All Posts By

Amanda Camillo

Spring Craft: Painting with Flowers

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Here is a fun craft great for spring. It is simple and easy to do.


  1. Flowers (either the plastic dollar store kind, or experiment with picking real flowers from outside!)
  2. Paint
  3. Paper
  4. Paint tray


  • First, get your flowers! These can be plastic dollar store ones if you are concerned about allergies or of the weather is not so great and you don’t want to go outside for long, or you can pick some from nature! If you pick them from outside, try to get different kinds of flowers and different sizes.
  • Clean the flower stems so that they can essentially be used as a handle.
  • Place them into paint on a tray. These will be the “brushes” for this activity.
  • Let children experiment with pressing prints with the flowers, brushing with them, etc.
  • And that’s it!



Sensory Motor Skills

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Sensory motor skills. This is one of those terms that gets thrown around A LOT. Especially when it comes to development in early childhood! But what exactly are sensory motor skills? And why does this term keep coming up?

Basically, sensory motor skills are all the activities and movements that prepare the body to learn, especially when it comes to infants who learn primarily through their five senses of touch, taste, sight, hearing and smell.

To further define this we can split up the sensory skills and the motor skills. Sensory skills are the five senses listed above as well as the vestibular sense (this concerns balance and information about one’s own position in space) and proprioception (this is just a fancy term for feedback from the muscles and joints to the brain about movements).

Alternatively, motor skills refer more broadly to muscle movements, both fine and gross. These include crawling ,walking, running, writing, and even the facial muscle movements required for speech.

Now to put sensory and motor skills together, sensory motor skills include:

  • The Body in Space: knowing our location in space is important for coordination. Visual motor skills are essential in regards to this and also assist with things like learning how to write because you need to see where you are in relation to things around you in order to move in space, even when it comes to pen and paper.
  • Laterality: laterality is the ability to cross the right side of the body to the left and the left side to the right. This is also referred to crossing the midline. Development of this skills requires a great deal of sensory inputs to the brain and is incredibly important for coordinated movements in later years.
  • Balance: This is that vestibular sense that we talked about earlier. It mostly takes place through the movement of fluid in the inner ear. Development of balance is dependent on practice of motor skills.
  • Centering: this is the ability to not only cross the midline like in laterality but to do this from top to bottom, while executing other gross motor movements. This is important for fluid movement throughout.

So why is it important to know this information? Well as parents and early childhood educators it is key that we promote development of these skills. And we can do this a number of ways including encouraging movements that use both sides of the body, providing active play that requires movement and motor experimentation, and providing activities that are sensory stimulating with lots of texture, colour, or sound.



Featured Book: Freckle Juice by Judy Blume

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This week we are featuring a book good for approximately grade 3 aged readers. This one is a favourite for anyone who is a fan of Judy Blume! Here is a synopsis taken from (full source at the bottom):

“Nicky has freckles: they cover his face, his ears, and the whole back of his neck. Sitting behind him in class, Andrew once counted eighty-six of them, and that was just a start! If Andrew had freckles like Nicky, his mother would never know if his neck was dirty.

One day after school, Andrew works up enough courage to ask Nicky where he got his freckles. When know-it-all Sharon overhears, she offers Andrew her secret freckle juice recipe for fifty cents. It’s a lot of money, but Andrew is desperate. At home he carefully mixes the strange combination of ingredients. Then the unexpected happens…”

To get a feeling for the book check out this video reading of chapter 1:


Chromatography Butterflies

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This is a wonderful activity we did at the centre a couple weeks ago and thought we would share here. It is great for Spring and for incorporating into a metamorphosis educational theme.

Materials Needed:

  1. Coffee filters
  2. Non-permanent markers
  3. Small jars
  4. Water
  5. Pipe cleaners
  6. Pencil


  • Draw a thick circle with your marker around the middle of the coffe filter (make sure to do it on top of another surface like newspaper to protect the table).
  • Write the colour of the marker in pencil in the centre.
  • Fold the coffee filter in half and then in half again.
  • Get a short glass of water or water in a jar, balance the coffee filter so that only the tip is touching the centre, not the part with the marker.
  • Let it sit and watch what happens as the water begins to flow up the paper.
  • Once satisfied with the spread of the colour take the filters out and let dry.
  • To turn these into butterflies, wrap the centres with a piece of pipe cleaner.

And there you have it! Chromatography butterflies! Include a discussion of metamorphosis and of colour mixing to take the activity a step further.



Children’s Books For Spring

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It appears that Spring is finally upon us in the Lower Mainland! The days are getting longer and a little bit warmer, and the sun is peaking through here and there! So, we thought we would share some great Spring themed children’s book! These books are awesome for their simple stories, colourful illustrations and learning about Spring weather and creatures!

  1. “Ten Little Caterpillars” by Bill Martin, illustrated by Lois Ehlert. This is a fun one about, you guessed it, 10 caterpillars! They are preparing to turn into butterflies! This is also a great counting book for younger kiddos. The last page of the book also provides names and descriptions of the different types of caterpillars for those children who are scientifically inclined. Check out a video reading here: But, as always, we recommend the real deal!
  2. “Click, Clack, Peep” by Doreen Cronin and Betsy Lewin. This one is great for farm animal sounds! One of our themes for next month is agriculture and we will be taking a look at this book! If you like “Click Clack, Peep” you can also check out “Click, Clack, Moo: Cows that Type” also by Doreen Cronin and Betsy Lewin. For a video reading check out:
  3. “The Tiny Seed” by Eric Carle. If you think you recognize this authors name you are probably correct! Eric Carle is a wonderful children’s book author and illustrator famous for “The Hungry Caterpillar”, “The Grouchy Ladybug” and others! “The Tiny Seed” is great for learning about planting and gardening and for practicing cognitive sequencing skills. For a video reading check out this link: BUT, for this book we especially recommend the real version as the book is quite large and the illustrations are very beautiful.
  4. “Bear Wants More” by Karma Wilson, illustrated by Jane Chapman. This is an endearing tale of a Bear who wakes up from his winter hibernation at the beginning of Spring and is very hungry! We like this read because of its rhythm and rhyming words, and its cute depictions of familiar forest animals. For a video reading visit:

So there you have it! Four exciting children’s books for Spring. We have provided the links for video readings but we will say it one more time, holding the real book in your hands and reading it to your child is ALWAYS much better! So, visit your local library to take a look at these titles and get the best reading experience!

For more Spring books visit (source):


Hands-On Learning: What Does it Mean and Why is it Important?

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Today for our post we thought we would talk about an important aspect of early childhood education (and arguably education throughout your entire life): hands-on learning. Hands-on learning is one of those terms that get thrown around very easily. It is emphasized often, especially in early childhood education and for good reason. But in order to understand why hands-on learning is so important we first need to establish a solid definition of hands-on learning. Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines “hands-on” as “relating to, being, or providing direct practical experience in the operation or function of something; involving or allowing use of or touching with the hands; characterized by active personal involvement; gained by actually doing something rather than learning about it from books, lectures, etc.” (Source: Basically, hands-on learning is learning by doing. This definition might sound quite broad in scope, but in this case, that is appropriate. Hands-on learning can happen in a multitude of ways, with many materials, in a variety of spaces, and through various activities. And children are natural hands-on learners! From the day you are born experiences are key to developing understandings of the world around you. Babies don’t learn from worksheets, babies learn by exploring their environment, and so do older children. So do adults in a lot of ways!

So how do we encourage and facilitate hands-on learning for our children? Well this article from community playthings has a couple of suggestions (source at bottom).

  1. Blocks, Blocks, Blocks: building blocks like lego, wooden block sets, and other open-ended building toys are great. They have endless possibilities, they teach children problem-solving skills. The essentially encourage the process of having an idea, planning how to create it, implementing that plan, correcting where necessary, and implementing again. They get children to learn about geometry and physics. And when playing together blocks facilitate development of essential social and collaborative skills.
  2. Garden, Kitchen, Woodshop: get children involved in what feels like the everyday. For you making dinner might feel like a tired old chore, but for them it is an opportunity to use new tools learn about measurements and math, and more! The same can be said of gardening. And don’t be afraid to let your children do things like woodworking and sewing, you may be worried that the tools involved in some of these tasks are dangerous for them but you can always manage the activities so that harm is avoided and they are learning new skills. When taught properly, children can surprise you what they can do!
  3. Art: this is a common category of hands-on learning but a good one! Art is where the creativity is expressed. Create an art space for your child that is always accessible with various art implements. Bring in recycled materials too. Let them create!

Hopefully this article has given you some practical knowledge about hands-on learning and its benefits. For more information visit the source site below!



Word Dominoes Game

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Today we thought we would share this cool word game from nurturestore. This game is good for learning and practicing CVC words. CVC words are 3 letter words that alternate a Consonant letter, Vowel letter, and then another Consonant letter (hence, CVC). The are some of the first words early readers learn and they are good for practicing early literacy skills and building the foundations for spelling.

This game uses CVC words and is played much like Dominoes. To start with you will need to brainstorm a list of CVC words that rhyme. The source site used the following:

Cat Cot Bat Bet But Cut Bit Dot Fit
Fat Got Mat Mot Sat Sit Pot Pet Pat
Pit Rat Rot Top Cop Mop Pop Rip Tip
Pip Sip Big Dig Fig Pig Rig Rib Fib
Dog Fog Bus Pub Put Pup      

Once you have thought up your CVC words. Get some craft popsicle sticks. On each Popsicle stick write two of the CVC words at random and separate them with a line down the middle. These are your “dominoes”.

Divide the dominoes between players. To play the game have someone start by placing the first domino. Then you take turns placing the dominoes until someone gets rid of all of theirs first. You can place a domino by either matching rhyming words or matching the beginning letter of each word.

To extend this game you can have each player make up a sentence with the word before placing it down.

And there it is, simple and fun literacy game!