- 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.
At Alpha’s Discovery Kids Preschool and Daycare, we understand the importance of educating children using a wholistic approach. Engineering is a key component of our STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) program which is one of our four pillars of learning. You may be wondering how we teach young children engineering skills. This may seem like an abstract concept that young children wouldn’t understand. So first, let’s define engineering and then discuss how we teach those skills to young children.
Engineering is the application of scientific knowledge to solving problems in the real world. Therefore, people use engineering skills to solve problems, which may include learning how things work and building things that we will solve problems in our daily life. So, if you look at it that way, young children are constantly in the process of engineering. They are so inquisitive and they are constantly trying to figure out how things work. It starts with simple tasks, like opening a closed cupboard door or moving a car up and down a ramp. Every activity that they are participating in, is giving them the opportunity to problem solve. One day, these simple little tasks will teach them to solve bigger problems. Teaching children how to think creatively and learning to solve problems prepares them for the future.
Engineering is the process by which young children discover how the things in their world are built and how they work. Whether it is building a block tower, or it is exploring a simple pendulum, engineering is a natural part of everyday, early learning.
Now that we understand what engineering is and how it relates to young children, how do we foster the development of engineering skills. Exploration is a major component when it comes to engineering, so we need to give children opportunities to explore. The ability to freely explore something is important while avoiding too many rules and instructions. This will help the children to solve a problem creatively and lead to understanding and insight.
Another way to foster engineering skills is to let the children play. As parents and educators, we can be over-protective of this generation of children as we try to eliminate any area of risk for them. We fear the slide is too high, that they shouldn’t climb up it. We begin to instill fear in them that isn’t there. Let them play in mud and make mud pies, let them play with sticks and blocks and shovels. Let them be kids and explore. Playing in mud won’t hurt them, it only creates opportunities to problem-solve, create and imagine.
At Alpha’s Discovery Kids, we provide planned activities to the children every day that builds on engineering skills. We provide specific materials to let them build and engineer with. It is important to have a plan and purpose, as well as have the freedom to play and explore. It is okay to create challenges for young children to engineer and build.
Here’s some things you can try at home. Give your child a basket of blocks and challenge them to see how high they can create a tower. Gather rocks outside and create a rock tower. Provide different shapes and sizes of these materials so that they learn what order to place the items in, from biggest to smallest, from fattest to thinnest. It is important to allow the space needed for when the tower does fall, or they make it too tall or too wide.
Provide children with random material in a basket and see what they can build and create. You can put paper, glue, scissors, random craft supplies and let them create and imagine. It is important to ask thought provoking questions along the way. The key is to have one-on-one conversation with your child throughout the engineering process.
Visit our curriculum page for more information about how we incorporate engineering into our four pillars of learning through STEAM curriculum. We have truly developed an exceptional program that focuses on the child as a whole. We believe that language, literacy, STEAM and mindfulness can provide children a path for continuous growth.
At Alpha’s Discovery Kids Preschool and Daycare, we understand the importance of educating children in all areas to help them to grow and develop. Science is one of the key programs that we focus on in our Four Pillars of Learning curriculum. It is the first letter in our STEAM program. Science can be a hard area for some of us to wrap our heads around, especially as adults. We think of volcanos and osmosis when we think of science, but if you look at the activities your child does in their day, science is everywhere.
By introducing science to children at a young age, we begin to foster their interest in the subject and their success in that subject at school. It helps them to problem solve and better understand their world around them. Science allows children to make predictions, complete observations and determine an outcome. Science easily links with many other parts of our program such as math and art. For example, we discuss the types of animals in the arctic and the temperature (math), and have them create puppets from paper bags (art).
Science is also a great way to calm children. If negative behaviours are happening at home or at school try using art and science as a way to alleviate some of those issues. Children generally love exploring with science, they love the mess, and the use of imagination. Simply mixing colours is a great way to show children science. Ask them what they would get if they mixed red and blue, blue and yellow or red and yellow. Have them try mixing their own colours to see how many different colours can be made.
Children want to be involved. Science can be simple at home as well. You can grow a garden or flowers. Allow them to help put in the soil, to water the plants. Make a graph of how tall it is getting. Show them how you can cook with what you grow. Cooking can involve both math and science by measuring and mixing ingredients to make something new. All these things are simple and will help your child to be excited about learning.
Here’s a list of some great simple science experiments that we do with the children in our programs that you can try at home.
1. Lava lamp. Take a water bottle and fill it with the following ingredients.
c. Food colouring
2. Colour changing flowers. Put the flowers in a glass with water and food colouring and watch the flowers change colours.
a. White carnations
d. Food colouring
3. Magic milk (one of my favourites). Mix all the ingredients on a tray. Watch what happens.
a. A large flat tray
c. Liquid food colouring
d. Dish soap
e. Cotton swabs
4. Painting on ice cubes.
a. A piece of ice
c. Tray to collect the water as it melts
All of these simple activities can be found online on Pinterest and in Youtube videos. They are simple and easy to do and you may find your child asking to do them over and over again. With any science experiment it is important to ask questions.
1. What do you think will happen? – Make a prediction.
2. What actually happened? – Observe the results.
3. Why/How did it happen? – Make a hypothesis to explain what happened. You may need to do some research with your child to explain why or how it happened.
It is always fascinating to make observations about what your child was able to understand. Then 6 months later do the same activity. You will be amazed at how much more your child is aware of and the questions they ask. Now get out there and have fun.
Visit our curriculum page for more information about how we incorporate science into our four pillars of learning through the STEAM curriculum. We have truly developed an exceptional program that focuses on the child as a whole. We believe that language, literacy, STEAM and mindfulness can provide children a path for continuous growth.
How To Transition from Home to Daycare
How To Transition from Home to Daycare by Nichole Folino, RECE
Having been in the childcare industry for almost 20 years, I can tell you honestly that enrolling your child into a quality childcare facility, is truly one of the best things that you can do for them. Is it scary for you and them? Yes, of course, but the experience they will have there is invaluable. Childcare teaches them sharing, patience, teamwork, empathy and so much more. It was always easy to stand in a kindergarten classroom and tell which children had been in childcare and which had not.
There are important steps that you can take when deciding to put your child into a childcare program. First and foremost, make sure you feel comfortable there. After taking a tour of the facility make sure you understand and agree with their values, ask questions and feel confident in your decision. Those few things will help to ease some of the anxiety that you will feel.
When it comes to helping your child adjust and be prepared for the first time in childcare, there are many things that you can do.
1. Transition together
Most childcare centres have a transition period to some degree. Take advantage of it. Spend time with your child in their classroom and with the teachers. This will help you and your child to feel comfortable while they explore the new environment. If you feel that your child may need additional transition time, don’t be afraid to speak to the supervisor.
2. Be Honest
Be honest with them about what to expect during their time there. Give them examples like, when you get to school you will see Ms. Jones, then you will play inside with the toys, then you will go outside on the playground, have lunch, a nap and finally you will have another snack before I pick you up. Setting realistic timelines for your child will help them understand their day and when to expect you.
3. Drive by the Centre
When driving by the childcare centre, point it out to your child. Remind them that they will be going there and provide them with days. You can say, in two days you will get to go and see Ms. Jones. It is important to speak fondly of the teacher and the childcare.
4. Say Goodbye
Lastly, but almost the most important is that you say a quick and confident goodbye to your child. Saying goodbye with confidence shows your child that they are safe. Most children will stop crying shortly after their parents leave. If you are concerned, you can also call the centre and find out how they are doing. Sending a comfort toy from home, whether it be a blanket or stuffed animal can help.
As a mother, I firmly believe that one of the best things I did for my children, was to put them in childcare. I believe it helped them to be prepared for the school system in ways I couldn’t have imagined. They were confident and not scared to leave me the first day of Kindergarten. It was me that cried when they went inside. It provided them a social experience that I could not have given them. They made friends easier and knew how to take turns. They were creative and could express themselves in healthy ways. Finding childcare is easy, finding a childcare that aligns with your vision is rewarding.
Conclusion: How To Transition From Home to Daycare
At Alpha’s Discovery Kids, we offer three free transition days prior to starting full-time to help you and the child adjust to our program and routine. If you would like more information about our centre, click here to book a tour.