🐸My Etsy Sh🌎p🐸

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Books and Toys go hand in hand

 If I have learned anything from my 20+ years in the early childhood field, it's this...books and toys go hand in hand.
 I have observed many children flip through a book casually, lackadaisically.  But if you add an animal or play mat or props from the book...well, that's a whole new story!
 Once the props have been added, the book (and the learning!) becomes tangible.  Little hands play and the imagination sparks.  Children are able to act out parts of the story, committing it to memory more so that if the words are simply read to them.
 I love bringing favorite stories to life with props. I will be sharing more ideas on how to do this in the coming weeks.

Have a fun and playful day!

Friday, December 22, 2017

Reindeer Games - Math Concepts

Hard to believe that Christmas is just days away.  It's time for presents and visits from Santa and making cookies (lots and lots of cookies!)  It's also the perfect time for teaching math concepts to your little ones.

I set up a simple math game here.  This concept is number value.  Kiddos will understand that the written number '5' means five objects.  I only did 1-5 with this layout.  Start out simple and work your way up to 12 objects.

 You can use a whole host of items to teach this concept.  These small wooden reindeer, I found at Michael's Craft Store in the holiday clearance section.  I think there was a package of 20 for $2.99, but they are 70% off this week.
First, lay out the numbers (or simply write them clearly on a piece of paper) in order - 1, 2, 3,4,5.  Then ask the child to show you how many reindeer for each number.  If they place four reindeer under the number '2', don't say No, that's not right.  Say something like, Let's count those together.  While counting put your finger on each reindeer.  It helps to reinforce the number value.

You can use any objects that you have around the house - jingle bells, cotton balls, candy canes, etc. The play possibilities are endless!

Have a fun & playful day!

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Big Announcement for my Etsy shop

 Today, I am giving the readers of my blog a sneak peek.  Tomorrow, on my Instagram and Facebook pages, I will announce that I will be offering a few sets of these Schleich animals.  Whew! Finally, you say.
 Pairing these animals with my playscapes seems as natural as peanut butter and jelly, toast and jam, peas and butter...gosh, I am hungry!
 When you take away the bells and the whistles from toys, you get imaginative play in its purest form. Children gravitate towards these quieter moments of play.
 I do not have to site a Harvard study that tells you that imaginative play is essential to childhood.  It is therapy - a child can work out big world issue through play.  It is relaxing - sometimes, children just need a quiet time to simply play.  It is educational - children learn, role play, count, develop vocabulary, retell stories through play.
20+ years in the early childhood education field under my belt, I love to hear the stories and small world tales that children create with these toys.
I have only 7 sets available in my Etsy shop right now.  I may or may not be able to restock before Christmas, so snag your set soon!

Have a fun and playful day!

Friday, September 22, 2017

Bathtime - a splashin' good time or a chore

 Okay, parents, here's a question for you! Is bath time a fun, happy time or is it more like a chore? I think the majority is split 50-50.  For me, I think to when my girls were young, I looked forward to that nightly ritual of bubbles and puddles on the floor and laughter and warm towels fresh out of the dryer.  Those two little slippery bodies were happy and playing and getting clean.  I felt like I was the best mom in those moments.
 But there are parents that groan at the mere mention of baths.  (That's okay!)  It is seen more like a chore than anything else.  That water on the floor has to be mopped up.  I have more water on my than the kiddos.  I get it.  I have definitely had those moments.

I looked forward to it, because we would bring toys into the tub and create sea-worthy stories of elephants sailing across the ocean to discover new lands and new friends and even new foes! Sharks or alligators inevitably crashed our boats and created drama and new story lines.
Pretend play in the bath tub has the same benefits as dry land pretend play :) Children use their imaginations to tell a story, build vocabulary, role play.  In the bathtub, there is the added layer of water play or sensory.  And the kiddos get clean at the same time! 

Embrace this fleeting time called childhood.  It will soon be over and they will become smelly teenagers! I jest but as a mom of two college-aged daughters, I can tell you that I look back on those nightly bathtub tsunamis with great delight.

Have a fun and playful day!

(photo credit @stephanimcnally on instagram)

Friday, July 7, 2017

Making Literacy Tangible

 As a preschool teacher, I put it upon myself to 1. read many, many books to my students, 2. help them fall in love with reading at an early age, and 3. fill my classroom with amazing picture books.

This counting book I love so much.  Why?  The art is incredible.  I believe picture books are pieces of art with words.  And children can visit an art museum every time they open a book.
 I love setting up invitations to play around a book.  This book I discovered while searching for books about Africa.  That's the great thing about books - they can show you things, places, people that are thousands of miles away.
This book lends itself to a wonderful invitation to play.  I used safari animals from the book.  These are all by my favorite company Schleich.  I hand painted the peg dolls and used faux trees and greenery and some rocks (aka treasure!) that were found on a nature walk.

One day, I hope to get to Africa, to meet the people, to see the landscapes for myself, to hear their music (and maybe dance!).  I has been said that if you go to Africa, you will fall in love with it. Africa is #2 on my travel bucket list - just behind England.

With simple items, this book comes to life in a child's hands.  The learning is in the play.

Have a fun and playful day,

He loves me!

So...my husband does not buy me flowers.  In almost 18 years of marriage, I have received 2 bouquets.  Two.

He doesn't like to buy flowers, because "they just die."

Instead, he buys me toys.

He recently came home with 2 Schleich Giraffe Calves - that's better than a dozen roses any day!

He grinned that grin that STILL gives me butterflies (yes, even after 18 years!) and said, "So you can stage your play mats."

Gosh, he's cute.

And I...I am a lucky girl!

Have a fun and playful day,

Pictures from around the world

 I am sharing pictures that customers (and friends!) have sent me of my play mats from around the world.  To see more, follow me on Instragram @melanieshanks35