Monthly Archives

November 2016

Featured Book: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

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This week our featured book is for our older audience. We are taking a look at “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” by Roald Dahl. Most people have likely heard of and seen the movies, but even if you have, the book (which came out first) is a must read! Full of adventure, humour and imagination this book is great for a grade 4-5 to read on their own, or to read aloud to your younger ones if it is too difficult for them to do independently.

For a video reading of chapter one visit:

For those who enjoyed this book, consider more by Roald Dahl, including “Matilda”, “James and the Giant Peach”, and others!


Winter Craft: Negative Space Christmas Lights

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This holiday season, try this fun craft to decorate your house. It is great for children to practice fine motor and creative art skills. Here’s what you will need to do!


  • Cardstock paper
  • Scissors and a pencil
  • Cotton balls
  • Coloured chalk
  • Black construction paper
  • Silver maker


  1. Have children do the following
  2. Fold a thin piece of cardstock paper in half and draw half a lightbulb shape (kind of like an egg)
  3. The half a shape should be against the folded side like the image below.
  4. Have children cut this out. This will be their stencil.
  5. Next, have children draw the string for the light bulbs using silver marker (if you don’t have silver marker white pencil crayon works as well)
  6. Place the stencil on top of the bases of the string of lights and outline with a piece of coloured chalk.
  7. Hold the stencil in place and brush the chalk away with a cotton ball.
  8. Repeat this for each spot on the string of lights for a bulb.




Promoting Positive and Happy Thinking Habits

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For most parents, raising a child that is happy and well adjusted is of the utmost importance. Here are some tips for encouraging development of positive thinking habits in your children.

  1. Introduce your child to great music, literature, and art to help them develop interests and learn about the world around them.
  2. Provide lots of physical contact. Hugging and cuddling your little ones is important for showing them they are loved and safe.
  3. Speak to your child as if they are an adult to make them feel respected.
  4. Encourage your child to communicate with other children their age in order to develop key social skills.
  5. Be careful with praise and punishment. Too much praise may cause your child to think they can do no wrong, and too much punishment can make them think all they do is wrong.
  6. Let your child develop their own view of the world; don’t impose your own opinions unless teaching key values and morals.
  7. Encourage and support your child in following their individual interests and skills, no matter what they are.
  8. Give your child’s imagination value. The fantasies and stories they develop are expressions of creativity and should be regarded as such, not discouraged.
  9. Focus on developing sensory-motor skills whenever possible. These are especially important in early childhood.
  10. Put less emphasis on the results of an activity and more on the process. It is the doing of something that matters in development, not necessarily how it turns out. This is an important value for your children to understand as well. Most experiences mean something regardless of the outcome and it is important to enjoy the process in order to live in the moment.




Go Ahead, Jump in the Mud

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Picture this; there has just been a heavy rain (as frequently occurs in the Lower Mainland). The sky is gray, the ground is wet, there are puddles everywhere and the areas where the soil meets water have turned to mud. Despite the soccer ball, and the bike, and the various other toys you have available, your child naturally heads straight for the mud. And all you want to do is get them out of that mess, I mean who knows what kinds of insect-like creatures might be swimming in that mud puddle? And will the stains ever come out of their clothes? And for goodness sakes you have all these other, less messy activities right here! This might be the reaction a lot of parents have to such a situation, and understandably so! Mud is messy, dirty, wet earth. But to children, mud is also absolutely amazing! It is nature’s play dough. And so, lets discuss why maybe it’s not just okay, but beneficial to let your child dig into that mud.

To start with, playing in the mud can be considered a joyful experience. Children of course are already aware of this, but now, so are researchers. They have determined that playing in mud can increase levels of serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is a natural chemical messenger in our bodies, and higher levels of serotonin are associated with greater happiness and decreased levels of depression.

Playing in the mud can also have health benefits…sounds weird right? But due to the sanitization level of today’s world, childhood allergies and asthma are actually increasing. Exposure to dirt and germs (like in mud) can actually help build up the immune system.

Mud also has a whole host of cognitive and learning benefits. The serotonin molecule mentioned earlier has also been shown to relate to improved cognitive function at higher levels. Additionally, children engage in great sensory play in the mud. They also, create a social environment that involves cooperation, communication, and problem solving skills. Plus, the sculpting nature of mud play employs artistic and creativity skills. The open-endedness (meaning children can create whatever they want, there are no rules) is beneficial for sense of self and confidence in children, and it allows children to choose how much and in which ways they want to get involved in mud play. Giving children choice, or agency, also contributes to their sense of self and their confidence levels in positive ways.

Lastly, playing in the mud inspires a connection to nature and the environment, which is incredibly valuable to instil in today’s children.

So, next time your child runs straight for that mud puddle and pauses to look back at you before they dive right in, maybe you let them. Maybe you tell them to go ahead, jump in the mud.

Source: (all information above is taken from this source)


Featured Book: “The Most Magnificent Thing”

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This week our featured book is a charming tale written by Ashley Spires. It is called “The Most Magnificent Thing” and is the story of a young girl who embarks on a project of creating the most magnificent thing she can think of. However, she hits a few bumps along the way and quickly becomes frustrated. She eventually quits her project. But, with some encouragement from her best friend and pet dog, she takes a break, calms down and returns to her magnificent thing. This is a great story for teaching children that it is okay to fail as long as you keep trying and to encourage their imagination and ingenuity.

For a video reading of the book visit:


Play and Higher Thinking

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The following is an article written by Deborah McNelis, M.Ed for the Himama Childcare and Preschool Blog. This is the article in its entirety. It is here in this format in order to preserve the assertions made by the author.

It is so incredibly important that young children have opportunities to use their imagination. This can be done through quiet reflective times or through a variety of types of play. During play children pretend, experiment and explore using their body and all of their senses, with a variety of objects, in many different ways. The development of imagination and creative thought is one of the many reasons I feel so strongly about the importance of play. Additionally, it is important to point out that learning may actually be slowed by overly academic preschool experiences that introduce formalized learning too early.

As numerous posts on the HiMama Childcare and Preschool Blog share, exploration opportunities are critical to optimal development. Creativity, problem solving and imagination are high level skills in the brain. It is simply essential that these opportunities are provided for all young children. It is through focused attention and repeated trial and error experiences that the brain learns and makes strong connections between neurons.

Play provides the optimal chance to develop these higher level brain skills. Activities like doing paper and pencil tasks, screen time or flash cards do not offer the possibility to develop the imagination area of the brain. Offering varied activities for play and exploring with real objects, people, and nature gives the brain the ability to pretend and to gain knowledge about how the world works. These types of experiences add to developing essential brain connections and contribute to the knowledge needed for the process of creativity and problem solving.

Additionally, creative ideas occur when the brain is in a relaxed state. A lack of stress allows children to open their mind to combine what is already known with new information. Young brains are then able to generate new thoughts and ideas.

It is extremely difficult to continuously hear stories about how frequently academics are pushed on children at younger and younger ages. Recently I was told of a mother that was relieved to find a preschool that taught spelling for her 2 ½ year old daughter. Another example is a 3 year old boy who received an “incomplete” on a worksheet because he didn’t write all of the letter E’s that he was instructed to write.

The importance of play in the early years is stressed in What Children Need Most Is Adults That Understand Development. In the post, Jane Healy, an educational psychologist is quoted to state:

“Early childhood programs that implement a directed academic curriculum often replace essential, hands-on learning activities with skill-based performance and rote-learning tasks. In doing so, they risk the developmental growth necessary for children’s future academic success.”

I find it very difficult to comprehend that science provides knowledge beyond anything we have previously known to demonstrate what developing children need most, and yet there continues to be a disconnect between this understanding and practice in far too many situations.

Through sharing this type of information, it is my hope that EVERYONE will finally understand how children’s brains develop best. Because, when children are engaged in play it is almost like you can see the brain connections being made!

If interested in further information to share, I invite you to visit Brain Insights!



Remembrance Day Craft: Coffee Filter Poppies

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This Remembrance Day consider doing a beautiful poppy craft to reflect on the day and teach children about the symbolism of the poppy.

Materials Needed:

  1. Coffee Filters
  2. Food colouring or liquid watercolours
  3. Black buttons
  4. Paint brushes
  5. Ice cube tray or small bowls
  6. Pipe cleaners


  1. Start by adding a small amount of water to an ice cube tray. Then add the food colouring until it is the intensity of colour desired.
  2. Crumple up, twist and fold the coffee filters and then un-crumple them.
  3. Then use the food colouring and water mixture to paint the poppies with paintbrushes. Add food colouring directly to the filter as well for more effect.
  4. Discuss the process of the coffee filter absorbing the water and the colour.
  5. Make connections to other absorption processes like drying off with a towel.
  6. Once you are done painting, let the coffee filters dry.
  7. Once dry turn them into flowers by layering two coffee filters and pinching them together at the back.
  8. Wrap a small length of pipecleaner around the pinched section to hold everything together.
  9. Glue black buttons to the center of the front of the filters so for the middle part of the poppy.
  10. Display the poppies or let children take them home.



What Makes a Successful Childcare Program?

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When searching for childcare it is easy to focus on the basic aspects of a centre, such as the cleanliness, the location, the reputation, and the ratio of staff to children. While all these things are important and essential, they are not the only markers of a great childcare program. As outlined by Spreewenberg (see source at bottom) the following items are also things to consider when examining the successfulness of a early childhood education centre.

Great Curriculum

  • What this comes down to is giving children a variety of learning opportunities. A word like curriculum may suggest a great deal of structure and academically focussed learning outcomes that are highly regiments, like a school. However curriculum can take many forms. In the Reggio Emilia Approach curriculum is much more loose as it follows children’s interests and provides an environment rich with opportunities to direct their own learning.
  • Good curriculum provides education through a number of mediums: art, physical activity, music, math, science, natural studies and more.

Established Rules and Policies

  • This just means that what staff, children and parents can expect from the centre is clearly established and made available to all parties.
  • Policies are written, practiced and put in place so that the appropriate response is automatic and clear in any situation

High-Quality Staff

  • Staff who love what they do, are engaged with the curriculum, care for their students are highly qualified are important to creating a welcoming daycare environment.
  • Additionally, staff should have supplementary coursework and certifications and all should have basic first aid.

Attention to Health and Safety

  • The facility being clean is a must
  • Safety in all regards is important. This means being aware of the surrounding grounds and removing any hazards, having working smoke dectectors and having policies in place for any kind of emergency situation

Parent Involvement

  • A successful childcare center establishes clear lines of communication between staff/administration and parents.
  • They invite parents to participate in events and notify them of daily ongoings when appropriate.

We hope that those who have experienced our center believe that Parkland Players embodies these qualities as we strive to make our center the best it can be.

Source: September 22, 2015. Author: Ron Spreeuwenberg