Top 4 Fall Family Fun Activities
What are your favourite Fall activities to enjoy with your family?
September has arrived and that means as the leaves slowly change colour, we have a short window to still enjoy some warm (or warm-ish) fall weekends to spend outdoors before Jack frost makes an appearance. As sad as we are to say good-bye to summer there is still so much to enjoy in the fall. Autumn seems to come and go so fast so let’s get a jump on the fun with some outdoor activities with the kids. Here are 4 festive fall ideas to enjoy in September and October during Harvest time …. I can already smell the apple pie…
1. Visit a pumpkin patch
As the harvest season comes to an end, there is nothing more fun than picking your own pumpkin – even if you decide not to carve it. They look lovely on your front step. There are so many beautiful varieties and colors. I especially like the white “ghost pumpkin”.
Here’s a list of pumpkin patches in the GTA.
One of our favorite farms for pumpkin picking is Springridge Farm. It is a beautiful farm with lots of opportunities for children to play in the fresh fall air. With the charming backdrop of this colourful farm, you will be sure to capture your kids in action or the most perfect fall family pictures.
2. Enjoy a Fall Fair
There’s nothing like spending the day at a fall fair and enjoying the food, rides and games. Here is a list of fall fairs across Ontario with a list ranging from very old ones in small towns like the Norwood Fall Fair, to the huge Royal Agricultural Winter Fair in Toronto.
There are many fairs that will be taking place soon. Oh, how we have missed fairs!
3. Apple Picking
There are many farms to visit at this time of year to get the festive fall feeling we all love. These farms are not limited to just pumpkin picking! Some farms, like these local favorites, Chudleighs and Downey’s, have fun activities for children, apple picking and lovely shops where you can purchase apples and baked goods. Check out this link for more apple picking spots where you can pick your own apples.
4. Get lost in the moment in a Corn maze
Before escape rooms for centuries many have found fun in the challenge of escaping a corn maze. Fall in Ontario brings a variety of farm activities including some amazing corn mazes which can encompass 20 acres! Some are cut in a seasonal or sports theme, but all are a super fun way to spend an afternoon. If you are feeling brave, check out this link where you can find a corn maze to find your way out of!
Enjoy the season! We would love to see you share your fall family pics with us.
Back to school during a Pandemic: What to expect in 2021
After a warm summer, September has finally rolled around and it’s that time of year when our little ones head back to school or perhaps start attending a new daycare or preschool. We are now 18 months into a pandemic and it’s not over yet! We seem to headed toward a fourth wave here in Ontario which will increase our anxiety levels as we strive to find ways to get back to some kind of normal routine while staying safe.
So, what can you expect for this new school year? Many of the COVID protocols and policies for schools and daycares will continue into the 2021-22 school year. Here’s what to expect:
- Screening – Be prepared for daily screening of your child. Whether your child attends daycare, preschool or any type of school, there will be a requirement for the school to screen the child daily to ensure the child is free from COVID related illness symptoms, has not travelled in the last 14 days and that everyone in their household is also healthy and not exposed to anyone with COVID or COVID symptoms.
- Illness – As cold viruses circulate in the Fall/Winter, be prepared to stay home with your child when they are ill for a few days. Also be prepared to get your child COVID tested if you want them to return to school or daycare quickly. Without testing, your child would need to isolate for 10 days.
- Masks – Masking of children over two years old is still recommended by public health. For children in daycare under 5 years old, masks are not mandatory but still recommended at the parent’s discretion. If your child is between 2-5 years old and attending daycare, you will need to decide if your child will wear a mask or not. Starting in Grade 1, masks are mandatory so ensure your child has a comfortable mask that they can wear for long periods of time.
- Face-to-face communication – Much of the communication between teachers and parents will take place via zoom. In daycares and schools, the use of apps makes it easier to communicate with teachers even though you can’t see them face-to-face on a daily basis.
- Hand Hygiene – Ensure your child knows how to properly wash hands and use hand sanitizer.
In addition to these COVID protocols, there’s the regular back to school preparation as well. Here’s some tips to help you prepare:
BACK TO SCHOOL TIPS
- Set safety rules for travelling to and from school: if your child walks or rides the bus to school, talk to them specifically about safety rules. For children in daycare, you may want to discuss parking lot safety and suggest that they need to hold your hand while walking from the parking lot to the daycare entrance.
- Label all clothing and supplies (but not where visible): It’s important to label everything that you bring to school or daycare to avoid it ending up in the lost and found. Remember to label on the inside so that it is not visible to strangers.
- Ask your child open ended questions about their day as part of your pickup routine: find creative ways to talk about it rather than the typical question “How was your day?” which normally doesn’t give you much info. Make sure your child understands that it’s okay for them to talk to you and their teacher about their needs or concerns.
- Role play: talk to your child about the new teacher/school/daycare and make it positive. If you are anxious about anything, they will pick up on that and it will cause them anxiety too! You can also role play different situations that may come up at school or daycare such as dealing with conflicts.
I am sure that for most of us, the first few weeks following back to school can be a little crazy. Remember to breathe, take time for yourself and enjoy the moment! Before you know it, your kids will be all grown up!
Especially in the younger years, our children will look to us for reassurance about daycare and school more than we think they will. While a cautious parent is a good parent, a wise parent will take great care to monitor the messages that they are sending to their child. If you start early by teaching your child how to stay safe and lay some ground rules, then you are off to a great start with preparing your child for life in the real world.
For more information about COVID protocols in the upcoming school year in Ontario, Visit https://www.ontario.ca/page/covid-19-health-and-safety-measures-schools
For more information about Alpha’s Kindergarten program, click here.
Water Safety Tips
Water safety is an important topic that we must educate ourselves about as parents. Knowing how to be safe in and around water is one way to keep your family safe. While water safety is somewhat of an unpleasant topic, it continues to be an important one. Even if you think you already know everything about water safety, take a moment to review these educational tips. I few minutes of reading may help to save a life. Knowing the risks is the key to preventing injuries and or death.
Children are naturally drawn to water and quickly discover the fun of splashing in it. Sensory play especially with water should be encouraged but ensuring that this is done safely is essential. You can never be too careful when it comes to water safety whether you are inside or out.
Close attention needs to be placed on safety around water to prevent drowning, scalding or electrocution. Regardless of your child’s age – whether infant, toddler preschoolers, school age or if you have young, curious, or even clumsy pets, it’s important to know that the number one safety tip is Supervision.
Here is why …. Did you know that babies can drown in as little as just 1 or 2 inches of water? It can happen silently, and within seconds, especially infants, because they don’t have much neck and muscle control.
Remember: Never leave your child alone or in the care of another young child in or near water—not even for a moment.
Most child drownings inside the home occur in bathtubs, and more than half of bathtub deaths involve children under 1 year of age.
Here are a few simple safe water tips to live by and share with anyone who cares for your child.
Bathroom water safety tips:
- Put toilet lids down. Install safety latches or locks on all toilet seat lids to keep curious little fingers from lifting them.
- Pull the plug on the tub. Consider removing the bathtub drain plug when it’s not in use to avoid the tub filling if a child turns on the faucet.
- Keep the bathroom door closed. As an added layer of safety, use safety latches or doorknob covers to keep bathrooms closed.
- Check the water temperature. Before putting your baby in the bath, check the water temperature with your wrist or elbow. Tap water that’s too hot can quickly cause burns serious enough to require a hospital visit or even surgery. In fact, hot water scalding is the top cause of burns among babies and young children.
- The hottest temperature at the faucet should be no more than 120 degrees Fahrenheit to help avoid scald burns. In many cases you can adjust your water setting to not go above this temperature.
Outdoor water safety:
- Never leave a filled, open-top water container unattended. Whenever they’re not in use, be sure to completely empty any liquids in containers such as:
- buckets and pails used for cleaning or painting
- wading pools
- coolers with melted ice
- large water bowls for pets
- trash cans or recycling bins that may collect rainwater
- secure swimming pools, including large, inflatable above-ground pools and other temporary pools, should be surrounded by a fence on all 4 sides.
- Assign a qualified Adult or youth with life saving certificate to supervise children
- Ensure life jackets and flotation devices are used with supervision
- Ensure Life preservers are readily available
- Use a water watcher sign. Assign a “water watcher” to supervise at all times and ensure they know their responsibility.
- Pool fences should: be at least 4 feet high and have no opening under it or between slats more than 4 inches wide.
- Check the gate frequently to be sure it works and keep it always locked.
- Keep toys out of the pool area when not in use so that children are not tempted to try to get through the fence.
- Be sure to always cover and lock hot tubs and spas right after using them.
Use touch supervision
- Have a towel within reach so you can always keep a hand on your baby so that you are within arms reach at all times.
- Before your baby begins to crawl or walk, check your home and surrounding area for any other potential water dangers.
Water and electricity don’t mix
- Be sure to keep electrical cords, battery powered devices and other power sources away from water and out of the reach of children.
It’s important that you teach your children water safety!
- Teach children the guidelines, rules, and boundaries around water that they will understand and follow.
- HAVE FUN AND PLAY SAFE!
- Rhythm and Rhyme and Early Literacy
Most parents would agree that learning to read is essential for young children. But how do we teach our children to love reading? At Alpha’s Discovery Kids Preschool and Daycare, we think reading and writing are so important that we made Language and Literacy our first pillar of learning in our Four Pillars of Learning curriculum.
Some of our favourite books for toddlers and preschoolers are written by Dr. Seuss. There’s just something about all of those wacky characters, silly rhyming words and colourful familiar stories. It’s always so much fun to invite children into a whimsical place that they will likely want to visit often.
The stories are so simple but are so broadly appreciated by both adults and children. I began to think back to my very first time I read an entire book by myself. In the summer between Grade 1-2, my grandfather gave me a copy of “The Cat in the Hat”. I remember how much I enjoyed the story. I started to flip the pages and wanted to read it again and again, memorized it and began to read it out loud with confidence. Soon after I began playing rhyming games which led to more word exploration with synonyms, antonyms, and homonyms.
The Dr. Seuss books show us that language and literacy can be fun and silly. Many Dr. Seuss books are written with lot of rhythm and rhyming words. Rhythm and Rhyme can help us in many ways. The rhythmic flow can hold the interest of the reader and the audience.
What we especially like about Dr. Seuss books is that his stories are far more than just lovely little springy poems but more of an introduction to language and literacy development. The books offer a bouncy, heavily rhythmic sound which gives the reader and the listener a crash course in early linguistics.
Rhythm is a vital tool for infants to understand when phrases end and begin. It is their first step in learning language and helps them develop a motor pattern. In a similar fashion before you learn to play an instrument you must first develop an understanding of rhythm. In the same way, rhythm helps to teach both language and literacy.
If you would like to learn more about how we teach language and literacy skills and what you can do at home to develop these skills, click on our Youtube video.
Imagination – Exercise your Creative Muscle
Imagination is so important – especially during this pandemic – given the many thing we can’t do and would like to do! At Alpha’s Discovery Kids Preschool and Daycare, we foster children’s’ natural curiosity and imagination.
Recently, we did an art/music activity which encouraged children to imagine. We played child-friendly Beatles music and of course the John Lennon song” Imagine”. The children were given oil pastels to trace the outline of the iconic John Lennon scribble face. This was a free and open process but also was a great fine motor activity as the children followed the lines of the original piece. Then, they used dry tissue to rub the paper and blend the colors. The effect was so simple and so beautiful!
One of our curious students asked about the singer John Lennon. The teacher explained that he was an artist who made music and tried to help people to see the world in a beautiful way. He sang about equality, kindness, and a world where there was peace and harmony. We talked about imagining the world to be a better place. We used this as an opportunity to reframe the pandemic through our imaginations. While some of us are simply counting the days until the pandemic to be over, others have chosen to try to imagine and dream of all the things they will do when the pandemic is finally behind us. It’s about using our imagination to look at the world in a positive way – even during a pandemic.
Children are used to looking at things for what they can be, instead of what they are at face value. A cardboard box can be a rocket ship, or a robot costume. We can learn a lot from how children think. As adults, when we experience criticism and feedback, we become less open to playful and creative thinking. And, in turn, we lose our creative freedom. Creativity is a skill you can learn. It is a muscle. The more you use it, the stronger it gets. This pandemic is the perfect opportunity to use that creative muscle and just imagine! It is often in times of constraints, that we become the most creative!
Try this activity with your child and have some fun!.
#1 Think of 2 things you did to survive during the Pandemic with the restrictions in place.
#2 IMAGINE what you will do when restrictions are lifted. There are no limits!
Click on our curriculum page to see more about how we foster curiosity and creativity through our Four Pillars of Learning.
Stuffed with Love – Plush Toy Activity and Food Drive
According to the 2020 Hunger report, food bank use was on the rise pre-COVID -19. With the onset of the pandemic, food banks experienced a surge in demand for food and necessities in communities across the country. As government supports and funding wind down, food bank use is now rapidly increasing. At Alpha Discovery Kids Preschool and Daycare, we understand that families of all tax brackets are struggling to catch up, stay ahead and even keep up. During this special time of year, we want to help, so we have joined “The Compass” in their efforts to gather food items that will be donated to those who really need a helping hand. The Compass is a Food bank and outreach centre located in Port Credit, ½ way between our Oakville and Mississauga centres. Their mission is to provide a place for people to come for help. They offer immediate assistance providing food and living necessities. In addition, they provide practical support, resources, and assistance to individuals with low incomes and or that are facing difficult times and challenges. We have coordinated an event called “Stuffed with Love” where our students will have an opportunity to build and stuff a plush toy called “build a perfect pet” on Dec 17th. We are able to offer these plush toys to our families for no cost thanks to the generous donation of Amber Dinda from Glen Abbey Decor. In addition, during the week of Dec 14-18th we have asked the families to help us stuff & fill something else…. A food donation box. We are accepting non-perishable food items and toiletries, basic needs for living, diapers, feminine products, and pet supplies. Each of our students will bring home a full-sized high-quality plush toy and customized T-shirt as part of the experience. Once they have completed building their “perfect pet” they will take it home with a personalized birth certificate. We are hoping to have a full box of donations from both our Oakville and Mississauga location to be delivered on Dec 21st to The Compass. We know that with all the closures and lockdowns, that these fun events are extra special and mean a lot to our families. It means a lot to us to fill our Alpha’s kids days with meaning and fun activities, but we also want to fill their hearts with opportunities to help others at the same time.
National Child Day
November 20th of every year is a significant day for children in many countries of the world. It is National Child Day. This is a day that celebrates two historic events. The first being the signing of the United Nations (UN) Declaration of the Rights of the Child in 1959.
The second being the adoption of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1989. The combination of these two documents officially created, the UN Rights of the Child. By ratifying the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1991, Canada made a commitment to ensure that all children are treated with dignity and respect. This commitment includes the opportunity for children to have a voice, be protected from harm and be provided with their basic needs and every opportunity to reach their full potential.
Recently, we have been teaching the children about being thankful , grateful and honoring others with recent calendar events such as Thanksgiving and Remembrance day. We want to continue to instill these concepts further by extending our students understanding towards empathy and compassion for others through relatable topics. We will do this by discussing the things that make us comfortable and safe. Things like some time and a hug from a loved one, a warm blanket, cozy Pajamas and a nice bedtime story. Here’s a link with some great information about why reading with a child is important.
To celebrate National Child Day this year, we will have the children become active participants in this “Cuddle Up and Read” outreach project by:
• Children will decorate a donation box called “The Helping Hands Bin”.
• Children will place the donated items such as books, blankets and pajamas they have brought in and make a wish for themselves and for other children in need.
• We will celebrate our accomplishments by having a Pajama Party on November 19th
The items will be donated on National Child Day to the Kerr Street Mission. The items will be added to their Christmas Wonders and Beyond program where they provide, toys, gift cards and P.J’s to each participant in the program.
I would like to thank all our families and teachers for their participation and generosity in advance!
Let’s all cuddle up and read!
Halloween Activities 2020
Halloween is just a few days away and 2020 promises to be a different kind of Halloween! Halloween has always been one of my favourite
holidays to celebrate with children. There is so much fun involved for children: the ability to transform yourself for a day in your favourite
character costume, the spooky decorations and of course – the CANDY!
As 2020 has presented some challenges with celebrating holidays according to old traditions, this is an opportunity to find new ways to celebrate
this fun holiday.
Here’s a list of Halloween activities you can do with young children in 2020!
Candy Scavenger Hunt: Kids love going on a scavenger hunt! The process of finding hidden gems (especially candy) is so rewarding and exciting!
You can create your own scavenger hunt or click on this link to print one.
Indoor Trick-or-treating: You don’t have to leave the comfort of your own home to trick-or-treat. You can setup trick-or-treating by going from
room to room in your home and having your child knock on the doors and you can have different people in the house answering the doors and
handing out candy. You can involve grandparents and other extended family members too! This activity is great for toddlers with their short
attention spans. They probably only want to knock on a few doors before they are done
Mummy Wrap: This is one of my favourite Halloween games. All you need is toilet paper and a willing person! You would wrap the toilet paper
around the person and try to cover them all up like a mummy. You now have a use for all the extra toilet paper you may have around the house!
How many Candies in the Jar? This activity will keep your child guessing all night long. Fill a jar with candy and ask your child to guess how many
are in the jar. They can take several guesses and you can record them. You can even extend the game to everyone in the house. Then you can take everything out of the jar and count it. This is not only fun, but it’s also a great math activity for young children.
Bob for Apples: This is a classic Halloween game! You can adapt it for 2020 by making individual bowls to bob for the apples. Each person gets
their own bowl of water with an apple floating in it. The object is to take the apple out without using your hands. Get creative! You can use your mouth, tongs, chopsticks etc.
Decorating yummy treats: This is a great opportunity to explore your creativity by decorating cupcakes or cookies. You can use spooky
decorations, or even candy to decorate with. Kids will develop fine motor skills by spreading the icing and adding the decoration.
Candy Toss: Grab a basket and some candy and create a tossing game. Position the basket a few steps away and ask the child to toss the candy into the basket.
Have fun creating new memories and traditions in 2020! Enjoy! Happy Halloween!
Exploring Pumpkin-theme Activities using the 4 Pillars of Learning
Fall is the perfect time to engage students in learning experiences around pumpkins. Children are naturally curious about this interesting vegetable that is harvested at this time of year. They will see pumpkins at the grocery store, at the farm or in fall decorations and it’s a great opportunity to explore them with some fun activities. Let’s explore pumpkin-theme activities using the Four Pillars of Learning curriculum to create an amazing learning experience for young children.
Pillar 1 – Language and Literacy
Form letters with Pumpkin Seeds: Write your child’s name on a piece of paper with large printed letters to take up the whole sheet of paper. Have your child stick pumpkin seeds to each of the letters with glue. This visual activity helps the child to learn how to form the letters in a hands-on way. It also builds fine motor skills as they manipulate the pumpkin seeds to stick to the letters.
Pillar 2 – STEAM – Science
Planting Pumpkin Seeds: Cut a small pumpkin in half and have children scoop out the pumpkin seeds (using their hands or a spoon). This can get messy, so make sure you have some wipes handy when their hands are covered in pumpkin guts. Clean the seeds and have the children plant the seeds in a small jar filled with soil. Water the seeds, place in a sunny place by the window and watch what happens. You can use the leftover seeds and toast them in the oven for a tasty treat!
Pillar 2 – STEAM – Technology
It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown: One of my favourite stories to read in the Fall is “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” which is also a 1966 American prime time animated television special based on the comic strip Peanuts by Charles M. Schulz. You can try to watch it on TV, read the book or even try to find it on Youtube. There is even an app with a game you can play based on this story.
Pillar 2 – STEAM – Engineering
Golf Tee Pumpkin Hammering: All you need for this activity is a small pumpkin, a hammer and some golf tees. The activity involves hammering the golf tees into the pumpkin. You can demonstrate how to use the hammer by doing a few and then giving the child the opportunity to try it. You can use hand-over-hand if you are worried about their ability to handle the hammer. You can also find small hammers at the dollar store for young children to use. It’s best to use a real hammer instead of a toy one. This is a great activity to empower children to work with a tool that they wouldn’t normally get to use.
Pillar 2 – Art
Pumpkin Stamping: Cut a mini pumpkin in half and remove the “guts” (Save the seeds for other activities). Use the half pumpkin shape as a stamp. You can dip it in paint or a stamp pad and then stamp on paper.
Pillar 2 – STEAM – Math
Pumpkin Math: There are so many ways to incorporate math with mini pumpkins. You can count them or sort them by colour or size. You can also measure different size pumpkins and compare the sizes. With the seeds, you can create 5 sheets of paper with the numbers 1-5 written on them. Have children count out seeds and place them on the paper corresponding to that number. For example, count two seeds and place them on the number 2.
Pillar 3 – Physical Activity
Pumpkin Toss: This activity reminds me of a fall fair where you would typically see a ball toss or ring toss game. Set up a basket or barrel at a short distance away. Get 4-5 mini pumpkins and make a game of tossing them in the basket.
Pillar 4 – Mindful Awareness
Pumpkin Breathing: This deep breathing activity uses a simple picture of a pumpkin, but you can use a real pumpkin, too. The small decorative gourds or pie pumpkins are perfect for this activity, because kids can hold the small pumpkin in their hands and feel the weight of the pumpkin as they complete the breathing strategy. Using a pumpkin picture or real pumpkin, show kids how to use deep breathing as a coping tool by taking calming breaths while they trace the lines of the pumpkin. Trace the lines up toward the stem while taking a deep breath in. Hold the breath for a few seconds and then trace a line down another section of the pumpkin while slowly breathing out. Hold that breath for a few seconds. Repeat this process as you slowly trace up and down the sections of the pumpkin.
These are just some of the pumpkin-theme activities we do at Alpha’s Discovery Kids Preschool and Daycare using our Four Pillars of Learning curriculum. Enjoy! Stay tuned to our next blog for more fun Halloween activity ideas.
The Benefits of Listening to Classical Music for Young Children
Did you know that classical music is beneficial for young children? Here are 5 reasons why you should encourage listening to classical music with your little one!
Creates a Calming Effect
First and foremost, classical music has a calming effect. Many doctors recommend that woman listen to classical music during pregnancy for that very reason. When a baby is first born, playing classical style music, especially during naps, will help soothe and calm your little one! This is not just calming for infants, all young children and event adults tend to experience a sense of calm when listening to the sounds of classical music.
Improve Listening Skills
Listening to music from classical music composers such as Beethoven and Mozart at a young age, has been proven to increase concentration skills in many young children. Studies have also found that children who listen to those specific musicians are more self-disciplined.
Improve Brain Function
One of the most known benefits of listening to classical music is the increase of brain function. Classical music helps develop the genes that secrete dopamine and improves synaptic function.
Become a Fan of Classical Music
Most everything we do in life is based on the habits we have formed throughout our life, especially in the early years. Listening to classical music can become a habit for those who have always listened to it. So, start them young!
Classical music, in general, is very inspiring. Since the music improves brain functions, it also inspires new thoughts which helps one to become more creative!
In our classrooms, we play classical music melodies during our nap times to create a calm atmosphere. We also use music to inspire creative expression through art. We play classical music while children are painting or creating art.
For more information about the benefits of classical music, click here.