Room 122 Red Newsletter: April 8, 2016


Did You Know?

Throughout the year we celebrate with families at festivals and events in the classrooms and school-wide.



Save the Date! The Week of the Young Child Family Breakfast for Infants and Toddlers will be Friday, April 15th from 7:30 to 9:00 a.m.  Preschool/Kindergarten will be hosting their own breakfast on Thursday, April 14th.  If you have children in both Toddlers and Preschool/Kindergarten, please plan on attending both days to eat with each child individually.  If you have any questions please speak with your child’s lead teacher or Reagan Miller our Toddler Coordinator/Assistant Director.


Room Announcements

Dance Class: We will have dance class Thursday at 10:15 with Ms. Cheryl.

Homework: Next week we will be talking about the sense of sound! If your child has a favorite item that makes noise, they are welcome to it them in! We will be listening to them at group time.

Clothing: With the weather being typical Chicago weather and going through all four seasons each day, please make sure that your children are prepared for all weather.



Community Happenings

Music for Kids with Wendy Morgan: April 16, 2016, Morton Grove Public Library




Tip of the Week

Toddlers, Tantrums and Time-In’s, Oh My!

From The Gentle Parent: Positive, Practical, Effective Discipline by L.R. Knost

 When a little person feels frustrated, overwhelmed, or just plain old out-of-sorts (read: tantrum time!) it’s tempting for parents to focus on correction rather than connection. But when children are intensely stressed, the prefrontal cortex of the brain, which in early childhood is an underdeveloped, mushy grey sponge waiting to be formed, is flooded with cortisol, the ‘stress hormone.’ The result is what is known as the fight-freeze-or-flight syndrome in which higher brain functions (learning, reason, self-control) are markedly hampered and lower brain functions (instinct, physical reactions) take over. This is an in-built survival mechanism that gradually comes under conscious control through years of growth in a safe and supportive environment. Interestingly, it is theorized that this underdeveloped ‘sponginess’ is why small children are able to learn new languages more quickly than older children and adults. They are, in a very literal way, absorbing information raw, unhampered by the processing and reason of a more mature brain.

Expecting young children to have the maturity and self-control to overcome this God-given survival instinct is unrealistic. Threatening, punishing, or even reasoning with them while their higher brain functions are suppressed is futile and actually just adds more stress to the situation (more stress = fuel on the tantrum-fire!).

What they really need is help…

·                     First, help coping with their big emotions

·                     Then, help reconnecting with their source of safety and security (you!)

·                     And last, help processing the problem that sent them into a maelstrom of emotion in the first place.

Punishing them, yelling at them, sending them to their room, or putting them in time-out disconnects them even further from their source of security and not only delays a resolution of the issue, but misses an opportunity to equip them with the tools they need to handle future problems.

This is where the Three C’s of gentle discipline come into play.


·                     Remaining present and supportive until they are able to calm down enough to accept your help

·                     Drawing them close when they’re ready (time-in)


·                     Validating their emotions by labeling them and empathizing (i.e. “You’re sad because we have to leave the park. I’m sad, too. The park is fun!”)

·                     Offering words to help them express their frustrations using reflective language (i.e. “It’s hard to do things we don’t like, isn’t it?”)


·                     Helping them move on by redirecting their attention to the future (i.e. “When we get home we’re going to make a snack. Would you like grapes or bananas today?”)

·                     Modeling coping skills and self-control by calming your own reaction to their meltdown and helping them process their big emotions

These are all ways of reconnecting with your toddler or preschooler to help them successfully navigate their present difficulty as well as to cope with difficulties they’re confronted with in the future.

One effective tool for use in helping little ones cope with big emotions is a Calm-Me-Jar made from small, round, plastic bottles such as AquapodTM water bottles. They are perfect for small hands to shake and manhandle to their heart’s content.

To make your own Calm-Me-Jar, fill up a plastic water bottle with warm water and basic craft glitter glue in whatever color you like. You can add some extra glitter and a drop of food coloring to customize your glitter jar to your child’s tastes, and then when you have the look you want, be sure to hot glue the top on to prevent spills.

When my little ones have meltdowns, or, if I can catch it, before they reach that point, I pull out one of the Calm-Me-Jars and shake it up and just let them hold it while I hold them (when they are ready to be held) and talk or sing quietly. When I feel their body relaxing and their breathing slow down, I might say something like, “It’s sad when we can’t have a toy, isn’t it?” or whatever else will reflect what they seem to be unable to express.

When an older preschooler or early elementary-aged child has a meltdown, or, again, before if I can catch it, I first connect, “I’m here. I can see you’re upset. How can I help?” and listen as they try to verbalize their feelings. If they’re having trouble with the words, instead of immediately supplying the words for them, I’ll offer them a Calm-Me-Jar and ask if they’d like to show me how they’re feeling. They will often shake the Calm-Me-Jar vigorously while jumping up and down and twisting all around, which is a great physical outlet for their intense feelings. I watch until I see their movements slowing and their breathing evening out, and when they’ve calmed just enough to hear me, I quietly talk them through the calming process, “Look at all that fairy dust bouncing around like crazy! I bet that’s how it feels inside when you’re so upset. Look at how it’s starting to slow down and settle to the bottom. If we breathe really slowly, we can feel ourselves settling like the fairy dust. Want to try it with me?” Then, if there are any behavior issues we need to address, we’ll work through those afterward when they’re calm, connected, and capable of interacting and understanding.

Here’s an example of how Calm-Me-Jars are helpful in ‘listening between the lines’ to my children’s behavior so I can meet them where they are and help them process their big feelings:

My five-year-old is a tiny girl with BIG emotions, and she really likes using Calm-Me-Jars to work through her feelings. We’ve put several together such as a silvery one she named Goodnight Moon, a light blue one she named Nemo Under the Sea, a pink one she named Hello Kitty Princess Ballerina, and a dark blue one she named Starry, Starry Night. When she is mad at one of her siblings, she’ll often bring me one of her Calm-Me-Jars (Goodnight Moon is a favorite in the evening!) and work out some of her upset physically by shaking the jar like crazy while she jumps up and down and tells me how mad she is. When she’s a bit calmer, we’ll have a little cuddle and watch the glitter settle while saying goodnight to the moon, all the furniture, and whatever other silliness we come up with until she’s calm. If there’s a discipline issue or she needs some help working things out with a sibling, we’ll work through it at that point because I know that’s when she can hear me and really process what I’m saying. If she chooses Starry, Starry Night we might sing Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star or step outside and see if there are any stars out yet. If she decides on Hello Kitty Princess Ballerina she’ll often dance her frustrations away while shaking her Calm-Me-Jar. And if she picks out Nemo Under the Sea we’ll ‘speak whale’ like Dory from Finding Nemo or we’ll make fishy faces at each other until we’re both giggling.

As you can see, my feisty little girl’s choice of Calm-Me-Jar shows me what she needs to do to work through her emotions of the moment, whether it’s to act things out physically in acceptable ways or to connect through song or through silliness.

The key is being in tune with your little one enough to understand their personality and work with it instead of against it. My five-year-old is spunky and silly, so having a long, serious talk would drive her crazy and accomplish nothing. We quickly decide together how she’ll approach whatever the problem was the next time she encounters it, and then she’s ready to move on, whereas when some of my older ones were little they really liked to talk things through (and still do!). My toddler, on the other hand, doesn’t have tantrums because that simply isn’t part of her own unique personality, but she’s still fascinated by her Calm-Me-Jar and loves to sit with me and watch the “pintess faywe dut” (“princess fairy dust”) glitter settle when she’s feeling a bit cranky or out-of-sorts.

Remember, there is no cure for tantrums because they are simply a normal result of a normal developmental stage of childhood. Trying to avoid tantrum triggers (tiredness, hunger, overstimulation, etc.) is always a good first step, along with remaining in-tune, responsive, and available, but when all else fails and a tantrum does occur, reacting with an adult tantrum is tantamount to throwing fuel on a toddler-tantrum-fire. So instead of losing it when your little one loses it, take an adult time-out, breathe deeply to gain control of your own emotions, and then grab the Three C’s of gentle discipline from your parenting toolbox and work with your child, not against them.

“Reactors react to a crisis with a meltdown. Responders respond to a crisis with help. To raise a mature, stable adult, be a first responder, not a nuclear reactor!” ~ L.R.Knost

Curriculum Update:

The Five Senses: Smell

            The children’s noses were on high alert this week! We made goop that smelled like cinnamon that the children made “pancakes” with. The children glued all different spices such as nutmeg, oregano, cinnamon, onion powder, and basil to paper. Next the children made cloud dough (cornstarch and conditioner) for the sensory table, they have been making “cupcakes” and all sorts of food with the scented dough. The children became little chefs when we made playdough and added pinches of different teas and spices, the children then kneaded the dough and mixed in all the spices. The children also painted with flowers. The noses were on full overload this week! Ask your child about all the fun smells they liked and disliked!

Next Week: The Five Senses: Sound  

Have a great weekend!

Deb, Mariellen, Margaret

Room 122Red Newsletter: April 1, 2016

Did You Know?

Our school has a beautiful, inviting environment that respects our sense of order and provides a refreshing, cheerful place to spend our days.


 Save the Date! The Week of the Young Child Family Breakfast for Infants and Toddlers will be Friday, April 15th from 7:30 to 9:00 a.m.  Preschool/Kindergarten will be hosting their own breakfast on Thursday, April 14th.  If you have children in both Toddlers and Preschool/Kindergarten, please plan on attending both days to eat with each child individually.  If you have any questions please speak with your child’s lead teacher or Reagan Miller our Toddler Coordinator/Assistant Director.

Room Announcements

Dance Class: We will have dance class Thursday at 10:15 with Ms. Cheryl.

Homework: Next week we will be talking about the sense of smell! If your child has a favorite scent or smell , they are welcome tobring them in! We will be smelling them at group time.


Community Happenings

Family Day Jam: April 9, 2016, Museum of Contemporary Art.


Tip of the Week

MUD IS GOOD! Ten Easy Ways to Connect Your Family to the Joy of Nature

by Richard Louv

Short on Vitamin N? Here’s a brief list of nature activities to help you connect your kids, and yourself, to the health, cognitive and creative benefits of nature time — benefits that will help your child succeed in school and throughout life.

1. Invite native flora and fauna into your life. Maintain a birdbath. Replace part of your lawn with native plants. Build a bat house. For backyard suggestions, plus links to information about attracting wildlife to apartments and townhouses, see the National Audubon Society’s Invitation to a Healthy Yard. Make your yard a National Wildlife Federation (NWF) Certified Wildlife Habitat.

2. Revive old traditions. Collect lightning bugs at dusk, release them at dawn. Make a leaf collection. Keep a terrarium or aquarium. Go crawdadding — tie a piece of liver or bacon to a string, drop it into a creek or pond, wait until a crawdad tugs. Put the garden hose to good use: make a mud hole. (Your kids will sleep well later.)

3. Help your child discover a hidden universe. Find a scrap board and place it on bare dirt. Come back in a day or two, carefully lift the board (watch for unfriendly critters), and see how many species have found shelter there. Identify these creatures with the help of a field guide. Return to this universe once a month, lift the board and discover who’s new.

4. Encourage your kids to go camping in the backyard.Buy them a tent or help them make a canvas tepee, and leave it up all summer.

5. Take a hike. With younger children, choose easier, shorter routes and prepare to stop often. Or be a stroller explorer. “If you have an infant or toddler, consider organizing a neighborhood stroller group that meets for weekly nature walks,” suggests the National Audubon Society. The American Hiking Society offers good tips on how to hike with teenagers. Involve your teen in planning hikes; prepare yourselves physically for hikes, and stay within your limits (start with short day hikes); keep pack weight down. For more information, consult the American Hiking Society or a good hiking guide, such as John McKinney’s Joy of Hiking. In urban neighborhoods, put on daypacks and go on a mile hike to look for nature. You’ll find it — even if it’s in the cracks of a sidewalk.

6. Be a cloudspotter or build a backyard weather station.No special shoes or drive to the soccer field is required for “clouding.” A young person just needs a view of the sky (even if it’s from a bedroom window) and a guidebook. Cirrostratus, cumulonimbus, or lenticularis, shaped like flying saucers, “come to remind us that the clouds are Nature’s poetry, spoken in a whisper in the rarefied air between crest and crag,” writes Gavin Pretor-Pinney in his wonderful book The Cloudspotter’s Guide. To build a backyard weather station, read The Kid’s Book of Weather Forecasting, by Mark Breen, Kathleen Friestad, and Michael Kline.

7. Collect stones. Even the youngest children love gathering rocks, shells, and fossils. To polish stones, use an inexpensive lapidary machine-a rock tumbler. See Rock and Fossil Hunter, by Ben Morgan.

8. Encourage your kids to build a tree house, fort, or hut.You can provide the raw materials, including sticks, boards, blankets, boxes, ropes, and nails, but it’s best if kids are the architects and builders. The older the kids, the more complex the construction can be. For understanding and inspiration, read Children’s Special Places, by David Sobel.Treehouses and Playhouses You Can Build, by David and Jeanie Stiles describes how to erect sturdy structures, from simple platforms to multi-story or multi-tree houses connected by rope bridges.

9. Plant a garden. If your children are little, choose seeds large enough for them to handle and that mature quickly, including vegetables. Whether teenagers or toddlers, young gardeners can help feed the family, and if your community has a farmers’ market, encourage them to sell their extra produce. Alternatively, share it with the neighbors or donate it to a food bank. If you live in an urban neighborhood, create a high-rise garden. A landing, deck, terrace, or flat roof typically can accommodate several large pots, and even trees can thrive in containers if given proper care.

10. Invent your own nature game. One mother’s suggestion: “We help our kids pay attention during longer hikes by playing ‘find ten critters’—mammals, birds, insects, reptiles, snails, other creatures. Finding a critter can also mean discovering footprints, mole holes, and other signs that an animal has passed by or lives there.”

Richard Louv is chairman emeritus of the Children & Nature Network and author of LAST CHILD IN THE WOODS: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder. His ninth book, VITAMIN N: The Essential Guide to a Nature-Rich Lifewill be published in April.


Curriculum Update:

The Five Senses: Touch

            The children were actively engaged in the topic of Touch.  They explored a surprise box by placing their hands inside.  Items with different textures were placed inside and they were encouraged to describe the texture and what they thought it was.  The children strengthened the muscles in their hands squeezing and squishing play dough. They then used Popsicle sticks with different textures to make prints in the play dough. The children were most excited about taking off their socks and shoes and going on a texture walk. They stepped on bubble wrap, sticky contact paper, bumpy, rough, smooth and soft surfaces.  The activity soon evolved into a sensory crawl with the children army crawling across the surfaces on their stomaches and even on their backs.

Next Week: The Five Senses: Smell   

Have a great weekend!

Deb, Mariellen, Margaret

Room 122 Red: Newsletter: March 24, 2016



Did You Know?

Karen Crawford is a registered nurse and has been Nielsen’s health nurse consultant since January 2004. She graduated from Northern University.


Room Announcements

Dance Class: We will have dance class Thursday at 10:15 with Ms. Cheryl.

Homework: Next week we will be talking about the sense of touch! If you have any fun and interesting textured items around your house that you would like to share with the classroom please bring them in!

Staff Vacations: Margaret will be off on Monday 3/28 and Mariellen will be off Wed-Friday 3/30-4/1.  Jill will be the sub.


Community Happenings

Autism Awareness Day: Brookfield Zoo Saturday April 2nd.


Tip of the Week

The Most Important Skill to Teach Children

By Ashley Soderlund Ph.D.

Today I’m talking about the skill I believe to be the (Dare I say it?) MOST important skill to teach children.  To call it one skill, however, is a little misleading. It’s really a set of skills– a whole host of skills. At the center of those skills is the ability to control something– a behavior, a thought, movement, or a feeling.

Generally, this is called self-regulation. But I am also talking about executive function (control in the brain), emotion-regulation (control of feelings) as well as behavioral regulation (control of actions & movement).

Most of you have probably heard about the marshmallow test in which a researcher will ask a young child (usually between ages 3 and 5) if they would like one or two marshmallows which are placed on a plate in front of them. Then the researcher devises a reason to leave the room and the child is presented with a choice before the researcher leaves: they can eat one marshmallow now or wait until the researcher returns and then they can have two. This is technically called ‘delay of gratification’ or the ability to suppress an impulse (eat that lovely marshmallow) in order to meet another goal– listen to the authority figure of the researcher and wait.

Delay of gratification is only one self-regulation skill, albeit the most well-known one, and it has been linked to many outcomes– children who wait longer are more sociable, have better grades, and even better SAT scores years later. There are also brain differences between the children who were better at delaying and those who were not as good at waiting. Self-regulation is partially genetic– some children will naturally be better regulated than others, however, self-regulation is very teachable as well.

Here are FIVE key ways to nurture self-regulation in your children.

1. Use naturally occurring situations to teach strategies for self-regulation.

Waiting to open holiday presents, birthday presents, not sticking her fingers in her friend’s birthday cake before it is served, or waiting for a special anticipated activity are all teachable moments for self-regulation.

§                  First, realize that these situations are truly challenging for younger children. Before the event or situation, explain they will have to wait and why waiting is important.

§                  During the waiting process, offer ways for your child to distract themselves and help them to wait. What studies about self-regulation have shown is that it isn’t about the child having the sheer willpower to wait, but instead having lots of strategies to distract themselves while they wait. Do something else, sing a song, tell a story etc.

§                  Recognize it if they struggle, “Sometimes it feels hard to wait. When you are waiting you can do something else.” When I tell my son he has to wait for a special treat, he will say- “But can I just look at it, can I just touch it?” I say, “Let’s take a quick look and then let’s do something else, it is harder to wait when you are looking at it.” In doing that, I acknowledge his desire and offer a strategy to help him regulate.

2. Realize it is just as important to let go of control. 

One of my favorite quotes from researchers who study self-regulation is this:

“The human goal is to be as under-controlled as possible and over-controlled as necessary”— Block & Kremen (1996).

As parents, we spend ALOT of time trying to teach our children to control impulses. It is easy to forget that it is just as important to let them be “under-controlled” for lack of a better term.

I loved it when I would return to the room as a researcher in those delay of gratification studies and the kids would stuff both marshmallows in their mouth as happy as could be, no restraint at all. They waited until I came back and then they reveled in the fact of being able to enjoy those marshmallows.

In other cases, kids would seemingly do a good job waiting, but when I came back in the room they were over-controlled and anxious. Those kids could hardly enjoy the marshmallow. So, it isn’t just about waiting or controlling, it’s about being flexible in that control — able to control impulses when needed and letting loose when we can. If you notice your kids being pretty controlled and tending towards anxiety make it your mission to help them learn that sometimes it is okay to let loose.

Teaching your children when to let go of control is equally important as teaching them when to be in control. One of my favorite family traditions is that on your birthday you wake up to everyone in the family singing, presents and a sweet treat. Why on your birthday should you have to wait all day for presents and cake?



3. Remember self-regulation skills develop over years. 

Generally speaking, the organization of the brain system that underlies self-regulation occurs around the age of three. This system goes through a period of rapid development until about the age of five. After the age of five, the development brain areas associated with self-regulation slows down until puberty when a second brain growth spurt means a whole new level of regulation skills will need to be organized and learned in adolescence.

So, all those teachable moments will add up over the years. There may be times when you feel like you don’t see any progress — it develops slowly and gradually. It is one of those things where you’ll see effects much later.

Right now, I see my role as simply noticing when my son struggles and helping him through it.

For example, I love that my son has such determination– but he also gets incredibly frustrated. He will be trying to connect trucks together with Lego pieces and when it doesn’t work he screams and gets upset, but he WILL NOT give up. I want him to retain that feeling of determination, but he also has to learn to manage his frustration (don’t we all?).

I try different strategies (Three quick Tips to Help Kids Calm Down)  to get him to take a little break, sometimes I’ll even offer a snack, and then we will go back to his project. Often, he can either accomplish what he wanted to do or he will come up with an alternative. That way, I hopefully preserved that wonderful tendency for determination and helped him manage frustration. When he is older, he will be able to manage that frustration on his own, well, until he is a teenager, but let me get through threenager first! And that’s one reason behind the threenager/teenager comparison. Both, on different levels, are struggling with self-regulation.

4. Have your child make a choice and a plan.

Cognitively a well-regulated older child would be able to look through a set of options and make a reasoned decision. Or, faced with a wide array of possibilities, that child could make a plan. When it comes to well-regulated thought our goal for our children is that they can organize their thoughts and work through problems in a logical way. Cognitively they would be able to sort through the chaos, so to speak, and inhibit distractions in the meantime.

How do we foster this when they are young? I had a professor once who said, “No child is ever too young to make a choice, carrots or peas? Which one do they spit out the least?” Providing your child with plenty of opportunities for making choices — do you want to walk to the playground or play in the backyard? Will you have milk or water? Which pair of tennis shoes will you wear today? Gives them the practice they need to develop decision-making skills.

At younger ages remember to give a choice between two options and as they grow, increase the options. Also, give your child the opportunity to make a plan. This morning we are staying home we can do any of these things- what would you like to do first, second and third? My Aunt took her preteen and teenage sons to New York City once for vacation and she told me each son got a day to plan. They planned what they would do and she gave them a subway map so they could plan the route as well. I think this is a great activity for older kids. It is the same idea with younger kids as well– to plan and map out an activity is a great exercise in cognitive regulation.

5. Play control games.

Any game that asks kids to control something is fostering self-regulation. Anytime they have to suppress something. Like a whisper game, slow down speed up, the freeze game/dance, Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes, Simon Says, Red Light Green Light, and similar. See my post on more of my favorite games for self-regulation here. Also, make believe play has been shown to be linked to self-regulation. And just plain old free play. Yep, they are naturally equipped to learn self-regulation just through unstructured free play, we are along for nudges and helping through the struggles, but giving time and space for play may be the best thing we can do.


Curriculum Update:


            This week Kim has kept us very busy with the sense of sight! The children pretended to be eye doctors while using the eye test to try and see all the letters. For art this week the children made collages with feathers, foam shapes, and shiny shapes; created eruptions using baking soda vinegar and food coloring; painted with glitter paint; and did the “exploding colors” in milk and put their milk design on paper! The children also decorated homemade binoculars and took them outside to see what they could find on our playground! During group time the children determined their own eye color then used a chart to see how many children in the class had each eye color. The children also played a guessing game of “Who Does the Eye Belong To?” There was a picture of an animal covered by black paper, all that was showing was an eye and the children had to guess what the animal the eye belonged to. The children then lifted the paper to reveal the entire face of the animal and saw if they were correct! This proved to be quite tricky.

Next Week: The Five Senses  

Have a great weekend!

Deb, Mariellen, Margaret

Room 122 Red Newsletter: March 18, 2016



Did You Know?

In hosting parent seminars, we regularly work with our staff and outside experts in the community to cover topics of interest to parents.



Room Announcements


Dance Class: We will have dance class Thursday at 10:15 with Ms. Cheryl.

Student Teacher Takeover: Our student teacher from Oakton Community College, Naeun Kim will be taking over and implementing the curriculum for Sight and Touch. 




Community Happenings

Pets Unleashed: Now through May 1st.


Tip of the Week

Want Calmer, Happier Kids? Simplify Their World

By Sandy Kreps

As parents, we’re in charge of our family’s daily lives, everything from the schedule of events for the week to the environment where we work, play and rest. We build the structure and set the rhythm for the days, and a lack of routines, excessive toys and clutter, chaotic schedules, and an overload of information can bring even the closest family down.

Children are happiest and flourish when they have the time and space to explore their world without the constraints of “too much.”

“Too much” is overwhelming and stressful, whether it’s too much stuff, too much information, too many activities, too many choices, or too much speed – always hurrying from one task to the next, never a moment to relax or play. Having and doing too much can overwhelm a kid and lead to unnecessary stress at home and in the classroom.

Simplifying a child’s routine and cutting down on their information and activity overload, as well as excessive toy and clutter piles, could help over-stimulated kids become less argumentative and disruptive.

When you simplify a child’s world, you make space for positive growth, creativity and relaxation.

“Many of today’s behavioral issues come from children having too much stuff and living a life that is too fast,” says Kim John Payne, author of Simplicity Parenting: Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier and More Secure Kids.

Payne says that many American kids are experiencing sensory overload with “too many trinkets, too many choices and too much information.” By approaching parenting using simplicity as a framework, parents may be able to significantly reduce a child’s daily stress, which can lead to happier, more successful children.

The easiest way to get started is with your home environment. “As you decrease the quantity of your child’s toys and clutter, you increase their attention and their capacity for deep play. Too much stuff leads to too little time and too little depth in the way kids see and explore their worlds,” says Payne.

Clear Some of the “Stuff”

When clearing out toys, focus on keeping a mix of toys that your kids consistently enjoy and that keep them entertained for long periods of time. Often, kids’ favorite toys are simple, classic toys without lots of bells and whistles – stuffed animals, dolls, building toys such as Legos, trains and cars, dress-up clothes, and arts and crafts materials.

Whittle down books to a handful of favorites that can be savored, and remove the rest to create a “library” to find new reads one or two at a time. Add in some fabric, string or pillows for creating forts and playhouses, then give your kids some time to adjust and create their own play world from this simple selection of toys.

Make Downtime a Priority

Another area to make some changes is your daily “rhythm” of events – children are comforted when they know what to expect each day. Your rhythm doesn’t need to be a strict schedule, but a predictable flow from lunch to rest time to outdoor playtime, and so on, helps a child know what comes next and helps the day transition smoothly.

Along the same lines, simplifying your family’s schedule can reduce the frantic feeling of always being on the go. Kids with a full plate of school work, extracurricular activities or sports each day may feel stressed and chaotic since they’re lacking the free time children need for creative play and exploration.  And when you set effective screen time limits, you’ll keep your child distraction-free and help her learn to find joy in the present moment.

As a parent “taxi,” you probably aren’t feeling all that relaxed either. Cutting back to just one or two of your child’s favorite activities can give them the freedom not only to have that time to play and explore, but also the time to actually practice and focus on the activities they do choose to partake in.

Reducing the physical clutter, setting predictable rhythms and streamlining activities has benefits for parents too. “As parents, we also define ourselves by what we bring our attention and presence to. This is easy to forget when daily life feels more like triage,” says Payne. By simplifying, we can concentrate on what we really value, not just spend our days reacting to everything the world throws at us.

Simplification is an ongoing process, not something that can be completed in an afternoon or weekend. It takes time to reduce possessions, change habits and develop new rhythms. It’s not easy to change directions when your whole family is moving at the speed of light and the chaos always feels like it’s creeping in. Begin slowly, with small changes and an eye toward what you want your family life to look like.

Simplifying is about finding a place of balance as you move away from “too much.” Only with less can children figure out what they truly like and want.



Curriculum Update:


            This week we concluded our topic on colors. The children created rainbow art when they squeezed and squished paint on paper that was in Ziploc bags. The children wanted to decorate their cubby shapes.  The children used the window to the parking lot to play a guessing game, taking turns guessing what color truck would come by next. They spotted many different colors, but purple and pink trucks did not seem to be among them. Playing “I Spy” has become a game that can occupy the children for long periods of time. They use their critical thinking skills to guess the objects described by color. We added some other type clues as well, such as this is found in water or this has wheels when the children were stumped.

Next Week: The Five Senses  

Have a great weekend!

Deb, Mariellen, Margaret

Toddler Two: Room 122 Red Lesson Plan March/April 2016

Topic: Five Senses 


o       We have 5 senses.

o       Hearing:

§         Ears are used for hearing.

§         Noises can be loud or soft.

§         People who need help hearing use hearing aids.

§         Deaf people have ears that can’t hear.

o       Smell:

§         We use our noses to smell.

§         When your nose is stuffy, you can’t smell.

§         Some things smell good, others yucky.

o       Sight:

§         We use our eyes to see.

§         People wear glasses to help them see better.

§         If a person can’t see at all they are blind.

§         Binoculars, magnifying glasses can make things appear bigger or smaller.

o       Taste:

§         We use our tongues for tasting.

§         The different types of taste: sweet, sour, salty, bitter.

o       Touch:

§         We touch and feel with our skin.

§         We use gentle touches.


Provocations/Materials to Explore

o       Surprise/ Feely box                                        Different textures

o       Sound shaker matching                               Multicultural instruments

o       Voice recorder                                                Mirrors

o       Color tiles                                                      Texture puzzles

o       Music                                                               Matching games

o       Scent jars                                                       Texture board


Group Experiences/Investigations (Integrated Content Areas)

o       What do we know about our senses?

o       What is a nose? What does it do? Are they all the same?

o       What is an eye? What does it do? How are they different?

o       What is an ear? What does it do?

o       How do we taste?

o       How do you feel objects? Can we only use our hands?

o       Listen to sound effects.  What made that noise?

o       Touch objects in surprise box, can you guess by touch only?

o       Guess that smell?

o       Baking Soda & vinegar volcano: What changes do you see occurring?


Art Appreciation/Art:

o       Water colors on easels                       Food paint with shaving cream

o       Finger paint on butcher paper            Food collage on contact paper

o       Frozen ice paintings                                Paint with salt added

o       Play-dough with texture sticks                Stamp pads with hammers

o       Shaving cream                                 Water color paint with Kool-Aid powder

o       Spice collage                                 Color on sandpaper with crayons

o       Nose prints                                   Paint with different textures           

o       Bubble wrap roller printing                  Puffy paint

o       Mirror art                                             Decorate binoculars


Special Activities

o       Go on a sight walk or play “I spy…..” in the classroom

o       Texture walk

o       Marching band with instruments

o       Tasting party

o       What do we hear? Walk

  • Eye doctor dramatic play

Room 122 Red Newsletter: March 11, 2016



Did You Know?

The Curriculum is literacy-rich, play-based, and project-oriented.



Room Announcements


Dance Class: We will have dance class Thursday at 10:15 with Ms. Cheryl.




Community Happenings

Bubble Festival: March 19, 2016 10am-5pm.



Tip of the Week

10 Things Children Need to See Their Parents Doing

Jennifer Bly

As a former early childhood professional, I’m keenly aware of how much children learn from observing those around them. The adults in a child’s life are especially influential.

I was recently thinking about what I want my children to see me doing and I came up with this list of essentials:



I don’t read as much as I would like to. Plus, when I do read, it’s while I’m riding the exercise bike or before bed. Children need to see their parents reading and enjoying books. By modeling an appreciation of literature, children are more likely to engage in reading as well.

Action item: 

Try scheduling reading time as a family. Everyone grabs some books and reads on the couch together. 

Helping those less fortunate.

We are a one-income family. Even though our budget is tight, we often look for ways to help those less fortunate. Whether it’s donating food to the food bank or collecting money for the homeless, we do what we can to help those less fortunate.

Action item:

Commit to one volunteering or charitable action at least once a month. Whenever possible, involve your children. It could be as simple as asking them to look through their drawers to select clothing items to donate to a local shelter. Another idea is to have your children choose several items to donate to the food bank

Saying please and thank you.

I don’t mean to sound like your grandparents but what’s with the lack of manners nowadays? I think good manners are essential and have an enormous impact on the way people interact with you. Children need to see their parents being polite with others because this is the fastest way for them to learn. They won’t do it if they don’t see you doing it!

Action item:

When someone holds a door open for you, say thank you (or be the one holding the door open for someone else). Be kind and polite to servers and cashiers. Be well-mannered with your spouse. If your hubby washes the laundry, thank him for it (and make sure the kids see you doing so as well). Thank your children when they do something helpful. 

Making healthy choices.

Many factors contribute to living a healthy lifestyle. From exercise to food choices, to adequate sleep and hygiene, we have got to demonstrate to our children what a healthy lifestyle looks like.

Action item:

When selecting beverages, opt for water instead of soda. Involve your children in making healthy choices at the grocery store; instead of chips, get hummus and carrots! Opt for a family walk over a family movie. Demonstrate proper (and thorough) hand washing. 


Do you pray in front of your children or do you reserve prayer for meal time and before bed? Our children need to see their parents praising God and thanking Him for His blessings.

Action item:

Pray regularly in front of your children. If something comes up (i.e. they mention a friend has a cold) offer to pray with them. 

Doing the things they love.

Do you have a hobby? How often do you reserve that hobby for a time when the children are involved in other activities or after they’re in bed? Wouldn’t it be neat if your child got to see your enthusiasm for building model train sets? Wouldn’t it fascinate them to see how much you enjoy something?

Action item:

Plan your hobby times so that your children have an opportunity to see you doing something that you enjoy. If they ask questions, tell them about your activity. Maybe they would like to try it, too!


I struggle with playing. Quite often, I feel like there are many other things I can and should be doing. Yet, I always make time to play.

Children benefit from seeing their parents engaged in play. It’s an incredible opportunity to role-model conscientious and courteous play attitudes.

Action items:

Look for opportunities to play. If you’re having troubles connecting with your inner child, then check out this post for inspiration –> How to Connect With Your Inner Child.

Schedule times to play, even if it’s just 20 minutes per day! 

Planning and goal setting.

I am a planner. This is an easy one for me to demonstrate. My daily routine involves planning for the day. This skill is vital to our children’s future! They need opportunities to schedule their time, plan their days, and set goals. The greatest lessons will not necessarily come from achieving objectives but by having unmet goals or days that don’t go as planned.

Action item:

Give your child an agenda. Once a week, spend some time together writing in your agendas and setting goals for the week. Encourage your child to look at and assess their previous week before they start planning a new week. 

Being conscientious with money.

All children grow up to be adults who buy, sell, and invest. Children need opportunities to observe their parents being practical and wise with money.

Action item:

When shopping, allow your child to hear your decision making process (i.e. I won’t get this but I’m going to watch for a sale). It’s also beneficial to demonstrate how you purchase based on needs rather than wants. You could also start a family savings jar for a special purchase or activity. 

Enjoying nature.

From rivers to mountains, to grass and trees, this world contains much beauty. In the documentary Play Again, they shared that environmental degradation is directly related to our detachment from nature. Why care for something we have no connection to? Why care for the environment or the planet if we rarely connect with the beauty and wonder that nature presents? It’s critical that our children see us enjoying and appreciating nature.

Action item:

Take your children on nature walks. Frequently pause to enjoy the scenery. Involve your children in planting a garden. Whenever possible, choose to be outdoors. 



Curriculum Update:


            Continuing our lesson on colors, the children made salt and watercolor art! The children drizzled glue on paper and covered it with salt; once the glue was dry they used pipettes to drop watercolors on the salt. Once the watercolor hit the salt it spread all throughout the glue lines!! You can view it in the hallway on our new Toddler Art Gallery (where the parent board used to be)! This week the children also tried an experiment with milk, food coloring, and soap! The children watched as a teacher poured milk into a shallow glass bowl and then added drops of food coloring. Once the milk was all spotted with color we took a q-tip with soap on the end and dipped it in the milk. When the soap hit the milk all the colors spread and swirled and mixed together! The children loved it so much we did it multiple times and also tried different techniques like adding the soap and drops of food coloring before the milk to see if it would work too!

Next Week: Colors  

Have a great weekend!

Deb, Mariellen, Margaret

Room 122 Red Newsletter: March 4, 2016



Did You Know?

We use to provide alerts to parents and staff about the status of our center. Please register so that you receive timely e-mail alerts in case of closures and for updates. The center is listed under “G” for Gertrude B. Nielsen Child Care and Learning Center.



Room Announcements

Dance Class: We will have dance class Thursday at 10:15 with Ms. Cheryl.

Homework: Thank you so much for all of the yummy fruit for our fruit salad.


Community Happenings

Happy Birthday, Dr. Suess: March 12, 2016 1-4pm.


Tip of the Week

The Secret to Getting Your Child Out the Door (and on time and without a fuss)

Tovah P. Klein

Welcome back to Toddlerland where this month, I address what I hear time and again is a top challenge for parents—getting your child out the door. This is an activity that many of you argue, and I agree, should be much simpler and yet it tends to be one of the most frustrating moments of the day, with morning tussles often being the hardest. I recently received this note from the parents of a spirited four-year-old. Does this situation sound familiar to you?
 “From the minute our daughter wakes up, we are walking on eggshells waiting for her to erupt. The mornings are a nightmare. Demands, meltdowns, rudeness, refusing to eat or get dressed. What do we do to make the mornings better?”
The havoc of getting your child out the door is a perennial and universal problem (meaning, your child is not abnormal or extra difficult) because leaving home is about separation from you and the comfort, stability and safety of home. This is one of the hardest transitions for your toddler to navigate.
Separation and saying good-bye is hard for toddlers; for some, the emotional intensity of separating starts the moment he or she wakes up. Even if your child enjoys being at school and looks forward to seeing his or her friends, separating is still difficult and delaying the inevitable good-bye may start well before you get to the front door. Battles over getting dressed, eating breakfast and brushing teeth are a common complaint, as are bizarre requests to delay separating. I remember when one of my sons was at this age and just as we were about to leave the house, he bolted back to his bedroom in full winter gear and hysterics screaming, “No, I won’t go. I didn’t put stuffed tiger on the shelf where he sleeps all day!” Was his meltdown about Tigey? No, he didn’t want to leave home.
What You Can Do Today:
Have a clear, morning routine in place (wake up, get dressed, eat breakfast, put on coat and backpack, wave good-bye to the house) that you follow each weekday with minimal distractions. If you send your child into the playroom to get her shoes she will see all the toys she could be playing with. Even a minor distraction can set your child off course. Instead, put her shoes by the front door. When leaving the house, let your child stick something small from home in his pocket or backpack. A note from you with a smiley face or a heart will also help your child feel close to home and ease his sense of separation.
Your child lives in the here and now. Your child is focused on the moment, which means she’s not thinking about what comes next (getting to school or to a weekend birthday party). Being so focused on the activity at hand also makes it hard for your child to stop and shift gears. As a parent, it is your role to move your child to the next thing, even when it’s challenging. The mother of a 5-year-old noted:
“He loves to be outside but getting him out is simply impossible, even to play in the yard. I dragged him out screaming because all he wanted to do was build Legos, Legos, Legos, which he had been doing for hours. He screamed that he hated me. Then, he played outside for two hours, gloriously happy. He didn’t even want to come in.”
What You Can Do Today:
To help your very focused child switch modes, give a heads-up before asking him to move on. Say, “In a few minutes, park your train for later,” and then let your child know that he can return to this activity later. Reminders like, “You can play with your trains again when we get home from the store,” tells your child that he will have the opportunity to return to his current play and helps ease the transition from one activity to the next.
Over-scheduled. I’ve discovered that the more scheduled children are, the less they want to leave home, especially on weekends. Of course, this isn’t true for all children, but it may be for yours. Consider how busy your child’s week is—day care, pre-school, after care, organized sports and other activities like music and language lessons can be a heavy load for a little person. For young children, after a fully scheduled day and week, just being home feels good and being able to decide for themselves what to do on their off-time feels even better.

What You Can Do Today:
Consider lightening up your child’s days—less planned activities, fewer weekend outings, more down time at home including being outdoors with family. You can keep a routine and still relax this way. Then on Sunday night, prepare for Monday morning. Breakfast dishes and clean clothes out. Lunches made ahead of time. Shoes, coat, and backpack all ready to go by the front door. The less organizing you have to do in the mornings, the more you can help your child navigate through their routine and leave on time.


Curriculum Update:


            Colors, colors everywhere! The children played “I Spy” looking for colors outside and in the classroom. They found a rainbow of colors in their environment.  The children each got a rainbow squish bag filled with finger paint. As they squished the primary colors, secondary colors emerged. The children discovered that the colors were even brighter when they squished on the light table.

Using toilet paper rolls, the children mixed and created circles of many colors. One child remarked, “These look like bubbles!”  The highlight of the week was making fruit salad. The children cut fruit up and feasted on it as they went along. We talked about the all the different colors of fruit that we had to taste.

Next Week: Colors  

Have a great weekend!

Deb, Mariellen, Margaret

Room 122 Red Newsletter


Did You Know?

We have only had three directors in our 25-year history, two of which have served for more than 10 years each.



Room Announcements


Dance Class: We will have dance class Thursday at 10:15 with Ms. Cheryl.

Welcome: We would like to welcome Ethan Harmon and his parents, Alison and Chris to our room. Ethan has an older brother in the preschool program.

Homework: Thursday March 3rd our student teacher Kim will be leading a cooking activity with the children! Please bring in some fruit (strawberries, blueberries, grapes, kiwi, etc.) for the children to make fruit salad with! 

Toddler Art Gallery: Keep you eye on the Parent Board in the Toddler Hallway. It will become the program’s art gallery. Classrooms will take turns displaying the children’s artwork.




Community Happenings

Cinderella… After the Ball: March 3, 2016 – May 8, 2016 Marriott Theatre for Young Audiences. Lincolnshire, IL




Tip of the Week

Your Toddler or Preschooler and TV

“If you want a child who can spend long hours entertaining herself (which will afford you many breaks and make you the envy of all your friends with children); and if you want your child to have the best chance of reaching her educational potential, be able to listen and retain what she learns and need to spend less time doing homework, studying for tests, stressing about school in general; then don’t turn on the TV for the first 2 to 3 years. It is much easier than you imagine. But once you begin using TV, it’s harder.
-Janet Lansbury


How much screen time should your Toddler or Preschooler have? Are you ready? In my opinion, no daily time on an ongoing basis.

Of course, screens are a terrific babysitter. If you have a new baby in the family, or you're trying to get some essential alone time with each of your kids, or if you're easing a long car ride, it's my vote that screen time is worth the risk. But if you routinely use TV so you can get stuff done, you're actually shaping your child's brain so that he will be LESS able to entertain himself over time.

It's better to find a babysitter or a preschool program for a few hours a day. Risking your child's brain development is too high a price to pay for keeping him busy.

The American Academy of Pediatrics is more open on this. Drawing from the research, they suggest that children under age 2 not watch any TV and that kids over age 2 be limited to an hour or at most two, daily, of quality programming.

That comes out to about ten hours per week. And yet, toddlers and preschoolers in the US watch an average of 32 hours of TV every week.

Why is this a problem?

  • TV changes brain development. Dr Dimitri Christakis will blow you away with this talk about brain development and the effects of TV.
  • TV can sabotage kids as they learn to read, and keep them from becoming good students. Why? Click here.
  • Toddlers and preschoolers have other, very important developmental work to do. This is a huge amount of time spent on TV that should be spend on the things that are better for their brains - blocks, art, running around, engaging with other people. These activities teach kids self-regulation, and are the foundation for the next stages of learning.
  • TV is addictive and this sets up a habit for life.

If you're protesting this as an extreme position, consider it from another perspective. Would you let your child engage in any other daily activity likely to negatively impact the way his brain is developing, or damage her body?

TV and computer games stimulate your child's brain to develop differently, and many of those changes seem to have to do with shortening attention spans, reducing impulse control, and heightening aggression. There's increasing evidence that the more TV kids watch the more likely they are to have ADD and ADHD symptoms.

Young children's brains were designed to develop optimally by engaging with the physical world, and with the imagination--being told stories, for instance--rather than to be fed passive viewing that bypasses the need for imagination.

Toddlers and preschoolers may not look busy, but they have important developmental work to do. Fantasy play, building with blocks, artwork, social interaction with their peers and siblings, cooking with their parents, climbing, swinging, looking at books. These activities help your child's brain develop as it's designed to, giving her people skills and problem solving creativity, as well as the foundation for math and reasoning.

What about the forbidden fruit argument? If your policy is simply that you don't watch TV at your house, your child won't question it, any more than he would question your decision not to serve sodas. Kids who don't drink sodas while growing up don't usually develop a taste for them. And if you're concerned about your child feeling left out of what the other kids know, you can always change your policy when kids get older and peer pressure makes it "essential" for your middle schooler to catch the latest show. Because she's starting later, the likelihood of addiction is much less.

Don't be seduced by the computer, either. I know, it not only babysits, it teaches your child to read! And computers are certainly better than TV because they're interactive. But most experts recommend that you delay introducing the computer, or strictly limit young kids' time on it, because computer games are also designed to be addictive.

Regardless of how carefully you monitor your young child's screen time, you're allowing an addiction to develop. By the time they're eight, if not well before, you won't know what they're seeing, because they'll be changing the channel when you're out of the room. Better not to get a habit started, and meanwhile leave time for the child to develop the habit of reading. 

Does TV Teach Children to Hit?

There is no question that "violent" programming causes greater aggressiveness in children. We have solid evidence from hundreds of studies on the effects of children's TV viewing. Think your children aren't seeing violent programming? Think again. According to the University of Michigan's Health System:

  • Even in G-rated, animated movies and DVDs, violence is common—often as a way for the good characters to solve their problems. Every single U.S. animated feature film produced between 1937 and 1999 contained violence, and the amount of violence with intent to injure has increased over the years.
  • Even "good guys" beating up "bad guys" gives a message that violence is normal and okay. Many children will try to be like their "good guy" heroes in their play.
  • Repeated exposure to TV violence makes children less sensitive toward its effects on victims and the human suffering it causes.
  • A University of Michigan researcher demonstrated that watching violent media can affect willingness to help others in need. Read about the study here: Comfortably Numb: Desensitizing Effects of Violent Media on Helping Others.
  • A 15-year-long study by University of Michigan researchers found that the link between childhood TV-violence viewing and aggressive and violent behavior persists into adulthood.
  • Even having the TV on in the home is linked to more aggressive behavior in 3-year-olds. This was regardless of the type of programming and regardless of whether the child was actually watching the TV.

The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, in a review of the literature, says that violent programming can cause kids to:

  • Become "immune" or numb to the horror of violence
  • Gradually accept violence as a way to solve problems
  • Imitate the violence they observe on television; and
  • Identify with certain characters, victims and/or victimizers

Studies show that even when the family atmosphere shows no tendency toward violence, kids can develop these symptoms. The Academy psychiatrists suggest that parents protect children from excessive TV violence in the following ways:

  • Pay attention to the programs their children are watching and watch some with them.
  • Set limits on the amount of time they spend with the television.
  • Remove the TV set from the child's bedroom.
  • Point out that although the actor has not actually been hurt or killed, such violence in real life results in pain or death.
  • Refuse to let the children see shows known to be violent, and change the channel or turn off the TV set when offensive material comes on, with an explanation of what is wrong with the program.
  • Disapprove of the violent episodes in front of the children, stressing the belief that such behavior is not the best way to resolve a problem.
  • To offset peer pressure among friends and classmates, contact other parents and agree to enforce similar rules about the length of time and type of program the children may watch.


Most toddlers and preschoolers who have never been exposed to TV and computer are used to keeping themselves occupied, and they stay busy. But if you're trying to break the electronic habit, try using audio books instead. These are more creative (since your child supplies the imagery in his own mind) and not addictive, but they offer kids downtime during which they're engrossed in something and less likely to need your attention.

To address times when your child just needs an activity of any kind, try an Idea Jar for boredom busting.

I should caution you that kids won't be able to occupy themselves if you have not spent any time that day with your child -- he needs his fix of parental attention and only something as engaging as TV or computer will divert him. But if you've spent the last hour building towers and reading to him, his emotional bank is full of your undivided attention. Now he just needs a transition to get into the next thing.

It’s great if you have a jar pre-filled with ideas, for when you draw a blank.

“Do you want to draw a picture for Grandma? Build a city for your beanie babies? Listen and dance to music? Cut out strips of paper and make a paper chain that reaches across the living room? Put on your jacket and make a sand castle in the sandbox? Or come up with an even better idea on your own?”

Of course, your child may not need a structured activity. Many preschoolers left to their own devices are happy to engage in fantasy play with an imaginary friend or some action figures. My daughter at age four would say "I think I'll play with Betsy" (her imaginary friend) and stay happily occupied for an hour.

Make it clear that it’s their job to entertain themselves. Once they get used to it, they will come to love this time on their own. The benefits to their imagination and self regulation are priceless. And learning the skill of managing their time and entertaining themselves is an essential protective gift for children growing up in our over-scheduled, hyper-media culture.


Curriculum Update


This week we continued our exploration on color! We learned that when mixing the primary colored paint (red, yellow, blue) on poster board we get other colors (purple, orange, green). The children were so excited when the colors mixed and they saw the new colors form! The children also sorted different items in the classroom by color. Our most exciting project this week was our flowers!! The children chose which watercolor they wanted and added it to a small bottle. The children then filled the rest of the bottle with water and added a white flower. Throughout the rest of the day and week the children got to watch the flowers “drink” the colored water and change color as a result! Next the children want to try adding color to their water or milk to see if they change color!! (oh my!)

Next Week: Colors  

Have a great weekend!

Deb, Mariellen, Margaret

Room 122 Newsletter: February 19, 2016



Did You Know?

We offer a comprehensive benefit package to our full-time staff members.


Room Announcements

Happy Birthday!: We would like to wish Sara Bezman a very happy 3rd birthday. She turns 3 on Saturday.

Dance Class: We will have dance class Thursday at 10:15 with Ms. Cheryl.

Goodbye: Troy will be leaving us this week. We are very sad to see him go! Please wish him and his family goodbye! We will miss him!!

Welcome: We would like to welcome Ethan Harmon and his parents, Alison and Chris to our room. Ethan has an older brother in the preschool program.  He will be transitioning next week.

COLOR DAYS!: Each day we will do a different color! Monday is favorite color day! Please keep an eye on the signs by the door to see which color is next!!

Staff Vacation: Deb is on vacation next week. Her sub is Jill.

Toddler Art Gallery: Keep you eye on the Parent Board in the Toddler Hallway. It will become the program’s art gallery. Classrooms will take turns displaying the children’s artwork.


Community Happenings

Sap’s Rising: February 27- March 19,River Trail Nature Center, Northbrook, Ill.'s-rising


Tip of the Week



“The way we talk to our children becomes their inner voice,” said author Peggy O’Mara, and subsequently thousands of Pinterest boards.

And it’s true.

The things we say — not only with our mouths, but with our tone, actions, and mannerisms — affect our kids. They’ll hold our words in that deep-down place where all kids do: Down where we keep our sense of worth, our feeling of being “enough,” our fears and doubts and self-love.

There’s a real resistance to the “self-esteem campaigns” I was raised with in the 90s — the “You are a special snowflake” sentiments that, while well-intentioned, are nothing more than a punchline now:

“Attention all whiny, entitled, self-centered Millennials — you’re not a special snowflake, yah hear me?”

Okay, okay. Maybe special is a bad word choice — although, I’ll be honest, my son is pretty darn special to me. Not the most special person in the world, and not more special than any other child, but his specialness is still there; I see it. Instead of using airy, ethereal words to raise up our kids (“you can do ANYTHING!”), maybe we just try kind words. Loving words. True words. Words that strengthen and reassure, not delude. Words our kids can pull out like tools, whether they’re 5 or 55.

With that in mind, here are some loving words and phrases I’d like to say more often — words and phrases that all kids deserve to hear:

1. It’s okay to be angry. I can help you calm down.

2. It’s okay to be sad. I will sit with you.

3. It’s okay to feel disappointed. I’ve felt it, too.

4. It’s okay.

5. I like who you are.

6. You are important to me.

7. I’m listening.

8. I’m here.

9. You don’t have to make me happy.

10. You are more than your emotions; they will pass.

11. I can handle your emotions, no matter how big they are.

12. Yes, I will watch you play.

13. Yes, I will join you.

14. Yes, I will lay with you.

15. You make me smile.

16. I believe in you.

17. I trust you.

18. You can handle this.

19. You aren’t perfect, and neither am I.

20. But our love is perfect.

21. Thank you.

22. I’m proud of you.

23. I’m happy you’re here.

24. It’s okay to make mistakes.

25. Take your time.

26. You are strong.

27. I’m proud to be your mom.

28. You are brave.

29. I forgive you.

30. Cry. Let it out.

31. I’ve been thinking about you.

32. I missed you today.

33. It’s okay to change your mind.

34. It’s okay to ask for help.

35. I hear you.

36. I see you.

37. I’m sorry.

38. You make my life better.

39. You are capable.

40. You are worthy.

41. You matter.

42. I love you, always, just as you are.


There’s a Jewish mystic story about an old Rabbi who taught his disciples to memorize the teachings and place the holy words on their hearts.

“Why on our hearts, and not in them?” one student asked.

“We put the words on our hearts, so that some day when our hearts break they will fall in.”

And so I hope to put these words on my son’s heart, too. So that one day when he questions his worth or feels unsure — when he feels his heavy heart caving in, for all of the reasons a heart might break— my words will fall inside.

Maybe then he’ll remember that he is okay and loved, just as he is. Maybe he’ll hear my words as his own. Maybe he’ll even pass them on.


Curriculum Update:


This week started the children’s exploration and investigation of color.  The children used primary colored food-coloring on snow and saw the colors that were created when mixed.  Colored paint on bubble wrap was printed onto paper to create colors in interesting shapes and designs. Color wheels on the light table were stacked to create multi-colored “cookies”, and “sandwiches.”

Next Week: Colors  

Have a great weekend!

Deb, Mariellen, Margaret

Room 122 Red Lesson Plan February/March: Colors

Topic: Colors


  • Red, yellow and blue are primary colors.

  • When primary colors are mixed together they create secondary colors.

  • Secondary colors are orange, purple and green.

  • If white is added to a color it gets lighter in shade. If black is added it becomes darker.

  • You can see colors all around us.

Provocations/ Materials to Explore

  • Color mixing bottles                                    color paddles

  • Magna builders                                                 Prisms

  • Color squish bags                                         Transparent colored manipulatives

  • Color tablets                                                 Colored ice cubes

  • Food coloring                                                


Group Experiences/Investigations(Integrated Content Areas)

  • Color Game: give each child a piece of colored construction paper. Give directions to stand up, sit down, turn around.  Have different colors do different things. (language, cognitive)

  • Read Brown Bear, Brown Bear by Bill Martin.  Ask the children “What do you see?”  Use children’s responses to create their own version of the story. (language, literacy, creative)

  • Exploding colors experiment.  Put milk in a container.  Add drops of food coloring.  Dribble dish soap down the sides and watch the colors swirl. Have the children describe the colors they see. (language, cognitive)

  • Color flannel boards. (Donut shop, Little Mouse, etc.)  Allow children to take turns choosing colors and guessing the hiding places. (language)

  • Go on a color walk.  What colors do the children see around them? Record responses. (cognitive, literacy)

  • Read Little Blue, Little Yellow by Leo Lionni.  After reading the story, show the children how the colors mixed and formed new colors, using markers.  Can they remember what colors were formed? (cognitive)

  • Sing “Mary Wore Her Red Dress.”  Allow children to say an item of clothing and its color.  Make a book of the classes version of the song. (language, creative)

  • Color of the day.  Match the color the day with the children’s cubby tags.  If your cubby tag matches the color of the day you can pick the book or flannel board.

  • Color chromatography. Using paper towels and coffee filters see how colors separate into its color components.

Art Appreciation/Art:

  • Ice painting                                                 Markers

  • Add white and black to paints                           Glue + Salt + watercolors

  • Water colors                                                   Fingerpaint                  

  • Stain “Glass” tissue paper collage            corn syrup + food coloring


Sensory Exploration

  • Squish bags                                                                 goop and colors

  • Different color playdough                                          Pom balls

  • Water mixing                                                               rice with funnels and scoops

Room 122 Red Newsletter: February 5, 2015


                                    Did You Know?

All staff are required to achieve 20 professional development hours yearly. Our staff are certified in CPR/First Aid and are trained in allergy awareness and action plans.



Room Announcements

Dance Class: We will have dance class Thursday at 10:15 with Ms. Cheryl.

Pizza Pajama Movie Night!: Don’t forget we are having our Toddler 2 Potluck February 12th 4:30-5:45 with the theme Pajama Party! We will be watching The Gruffalo from 4:30-5:00. Sign up sheets for food are located the Parent Bulletin board directly across from our classroom doors in the hallway. Please remember we are a peanut-free environment.


Community Happenings

Sky Circus on Ice: Feb. 12-14,Lake Lawn Resort, 2400 E. Geneva St., Delevan, WI, 262-728-7950,

Join us for free winter thrills during the 3rd Annual Sky Circus on Ice. The weekend spectacle will feature exciting airborne performances by professional kite teams from across North America, plus snow sculpting and ice carving by top regional artists. Kite making workshops and a mix of outdoor activities and games for all ages will round out the fun.

Don’t miss the grand launches scheduled for 11 am both Saturday and Sunday as we come together for our national anthem and over 400 kites take flight. Between their synchronized kite performances, experts will provide flying instruction and handy tips to attendees as they harness winter winds with their own kites out on the frozen lake. Activities and displays spread throughout downtown Delavan will also take place.

 Tip of the Week

7 Problems I’m Not Going To Solve For My Kids

by Leigh Anderson

Parenting is a weird tension between following your instincts and squashing them. When my son trips and falls, or squabbles with a friend, or is in some way struggling, my first impulse is to solve that problem, immediately: snatch him off the ground and dust off his pants, talk out the argument with the pal, rebuild the tower that collapsed. But as much as the endless discussion of helicopter parents bothers me, I have to frequently remind myself that it isn’t my job to make my kids’ lives as easy as possible—and that it may even be counterproductive. Below, seven problems I’m not going to solve for my sons:

1. Boredom

Boredom seems to have disappeared from childhood. Kids have tons of activities, reams of homework and a million options for entertainment at their fingertips. But boredom can actually be beneficial—it can prompt kids to try new things. My new response for “Mom, I’m bored”? “It’s okay to be bored.”

2. Frustration

I have a hair trigger for frustration, as does my husband, but we deal with it in totally different ways. I tend to get enraged and keep hacking away at whatever is frustrating me—getting angrier and angrier in the process. My husband will feel the early stages of frustration, set down the project and walk away for a while. He comes back when he’s calmer. The pause gives him space to think; he usually manages to solve the problem on the next go-round. This strategy has been a revelation for me. When my son gets furious that the Lego house he built topples over, I tell him to play with something else for a while and come back to it. Once he’s calmed down, he can usually tackle the problem without freaking out.

3. Not Liking Their Meal

We follow Ellyn Satter’s division of responsibility in feeding our kids—which means that sometimes I serve meals I like and sometimes I serve meals the kids like (though generally I aim for things we both enjoy). If they don’t care for the main course, that’s okay—there’s always something on the table they will eat. It’s important for them to know that everyone, even Mom, gets their favorite dinner sometimes.

 4. Failure

A fear of failure, writes Jessica Lahey, means that students don’t take intellectual risks. Encountering failure, or the possibility of failure, teaches kids problem-solving skills and diligence. If my kids are headed toward a wrong answer on a problem, or building a bridge that I can see is going to fall down, or even mixing paint colors into a monochromatic study in brown…well, that’s how they learn. It’s not my job to head them off at the failure pass. They need to fail to learn.

5. Running Out of Money

I’m a big fan of Ron Lieber and his advice on teaching kids about money. He counsels having kids take over more and more responsibility for their own expenses, like handing over the clothing budget for the year and letting them allocate it as they wish. As he said in an interview I did with him earlier this year, “At this stage, money is for practice. Mistakes are inevitable and can even be kind of entertaining. But we want them to make mistakes while they’re still under our roof, and not later on when the consequences are more dire.” So if my kid blows his clothing budget on one expensive pair of sneakers, and has nothing left over, well, that’s the lesson. He probably won’t make that mistake twice.

6. Arguments With Their Friends

I’m often tempted to mediate my kids’ squabbles with their pals. But (bear with me here, this is kind of a non sequitur) I have a pet theory about why celebrities’ kids are often kind of messed up: They’re surrounded by people who won’t push back against their bad behavior—caregivers who can’t really discipline without jeopardizing their jobs, or peers who are intimidated enough by fame that they won’t call the kid out. Children need to have conflict in order to know what boundaries are. They have to negotiate relationships on their own to develop checks on their behavior—it’s part of developing a social instinct. I won’t do them any favors by short-circuiting that process.

7. Homework

I’ve been reading a bit on the “homework wars” lately—how kids are swamped with hours and hours of work that infringes on family time, sleep and hobbies. And when I say I won’t solve the homework problem, I don’t mean I won’t offer help if they need me to explain a geometry lesson or talk about The Catcher in the Rye. I mean I’m not sitting and holding their hands through five hours of social studies and math. I’m going to set a timer for homework time, and what doesn’t get done doesn’t get done. Kids spend a full day in school and deserve some time in the evening for themselves, and for sleep. That’s more important to me than every scrap of homework finished.

So sure, I want to baby my kids forever, brushing away every obstacle from their path and kissing every boo-boo. But they need to learn to be independent from me and meet challenges head on. Because if they didn’t, well, that would be creating an even bigger problem—that they’d eventually need to solve on their own.

 Curriculum Update:

Light and Dark

This week we continued our exploration on Light and Dark. If the week were a Disney movie, it would be titled “Let It Glow!”  We created a black light table and investigated neon colors and glow in the dark materials.

There were glow in the dark stars and pebbles. Ice cubes were created with glow gel and tonic water. The children scooped glowing goop (cornstarch and diet tonic water). The children noticed that white clothing and bright neon shoes glowed brightly.  The glow in the dark gel was a useful tool to help reinforce the importance of using soap when washing hands. The children washed and then placed their hands under a black light. They saw that sometimes the gel washed off and sometimes it did not. We told them the gel was like invisible germs and how using soap and making lots of bubbles helps the germs go down the drain. The children continue to ask to have different glow materials available so we will continue our adventures in Light and Dark next week.

Next Week: Light and Dark  

Have a great weekend!

Deb, Mariellen, Margaret

Room 122 Red Newsletter: January 29, 2016



Did You Know?

We have an extensive teacher resource library that is available for our teachers to further their knowledge about early childhood care and education.



Room Announcements

Homework: We will be continuing our topic on Light and Dark for the next several weeks.

Friends Book: Please fill out Friends Book form and return so we can update our Friends Book.

Family Photos: If you have not already done so, please bring in a family photo for our Family Wall.

Dance Class: We will have dance class Thursday at 10:15 with Ms. Cheryl.

Pizza Pajama Movie Night!: Don’t forget we are having our Toddler 2 Potluck February 12th 4:30-5:45 with the theme Pajama Party! We will be watching The Gruffalo from 4:30-5:00. Sign up sheets for food will be out next week.


Community Happenings

Embrace the Chill on a NEW Day!

Join us for Wheeling Park District's

Winter Festival

Sunday, February 14

11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Heritage Park
333 W Dundee Road, Wheeling

- Free, Fun-filled Activities -

Snow Painting
Snow Obstacle Course
Ice Skating

(a limited number of skates will be available for use)
Build-a-Snowman Activity
Kids' Craft Making
Complimentary Hot Chocolate
& more! 

Come on over!

No registration needed. Fun for all ages.

Activities are outdoors, so dress for the weather.

Tip of the Week

6 Ways To Escape A Toddler Tantrum Before it Starts

Stephanie Thomas

Toddlers and tantrums go together like milk and cookies, only a little less sweet. If you're like most parents, you worry about what to do when your kid hits the floor. Do you pick him up? Bribe her to stand and stop crying? Let him get the frustrations out of his system? You have to make a quick decision. After all, the clock is ticking, people are watching, and your patience is running thin.

What if you could learn to (sometimes) prevent an outburst before it begins? With regular observation and quick action, you can. First, you have to learn how to spot the signs of an oncoming tantrum. Little ones wear emotions on their sleeves. That's why you get impromptu hugs and hear over-the-top laughter all throughout the day. It's also the reason tears come easily and frustrations loom large over seemingly small issues. Toddlers do happy big and they do sad big. Believe it or not, this toddler tell is your biggest clue for tantrums on the rise.

You sometimes have just a few minutes—seconds even!—to pick up on the hints before emotions boil over. So you have to pay close attention. This is what you're looking for:

  • Slumped shoulders and a face with a scowl
  • Whining that can't be talked down with your tried-and-true method
  • Playfulness interspersed with lots of laying down
  • Your "no" is met with more anger than usual
  • Thrown toys, books or food

As soon as you spot one of these signs, take action with these six ways to stop a tantrum in its tracks:

1. Provide a smart snack

Hanger—you know, hungry anger?—doesn't only affect adults. It hits toddlers hard, too, but they can't fix the problem as easily. Be prepared by stocking your pantry with smart snacking essentials and packing a snack for the kiddo whenever you're on the go. Be sure to offer food with plenty of protein and fat, like cheese, peanut butter crackers, a hard-boiled egg, or avocado, which energize little brains and bodies.

2. Encourage a nap

If hunger isn't the problem, sleep likely is. Toddlers need lots of rest. Sure, they fight sleep in hopes of playing a while longer, but their growing bodies need 12-14 hours of sleep in a 24-hour period! Look at your schedule over the past few days, and if things aren't adding up, do your guy or gal a favor and make adjustments. In the moments before a tantrum begins, you may need to break a few rules. Rock your little one to a restful state before laying her down for a nap.

3. Take a walk

A change of scenery works wonders for the frustrated mind. And nothing is quite as relaxing as a dose of fresh air. So take your toddler for a stroll. Yes, even when it's cold. Just bundle up! Being outside allows a toddler to clear his head and take in the wonder of nature. It also frees you up from correction and discipline for a bit. A 30-minute walk can reset your entire day!

4. Read books in bed

Before a fit hits the fan, grab a stack of your toddler's favorite books. You'll know best whether this is a time when your little one wants your attention or needs to refocus. If it's time with you she needs, invite her up to mommy and daddy's bed for snuggles. Get comfy and flip through the books together. Or, if she could benefit from some time alone, place the books on her bed, set a timer and tell her you'll be back to hear all about the stories she read in just a bit.

5. Distract with enthusiasm

This tip is easy and effective. Simply take your finger, point at something—anything!—and discuss with passion. "Look! Look! Do you see that light? Look how bright it is! And it's so high on the ceiling!" Ask questions like you really don't have a clue about the answer. "Woah! What is that? A tractor? You're right, it must be a tractor! What color is the tractor? How tall do you think it is?" When all else fails, dive into a game of "No, I love you more!" with all the sincerity you can muster. Toddlers can hardly handle the humor.

6. Offer to help

Many a toddler tantrum is born out of anger for something they can't do. How discouraging right? The world is open to them; they're reaching out; and—bam!—they get rejected, either by a lack of ability, patience, or even mean ol' mom and dad. If you add to these frustrations that toddlers are still trying to learn to express themselves, it's no wonder they quickly melt into tears. A kind "Can I help?" goes a long way. With three words, you defuse the situation and bring about immediate calm. When you get the puzzle piece in place, the doll's hair braided, or the blocks stacked just-so, a quick follow-up conversation becomes a teachable moment. You might say, "Next time, instead of whining, ask me for help."



Curriculum Update:

This week we were able to get outside! The children enjoyed the fresh air and any snow that was left on the ground! Our favorite activity of the week was the Reptile Show! The children were excited to learn about snakes, a tortoise, an iguana, a beaded lizard, a toad, and a tarantula. Some of the children even got to touch the snakes if they chose to. Such an exciting way to break up the week!

Next Week: Light and Dark  

Have a great weekend!

Deb, Mariellen, Margaret