Taking a Ride on the Little Yellow School Bus!

Today was a super exciting day for the Tiny Turtles classroom! A mime stopped by Toddler Tree and did a nice show full of magic and fun! We shared some pictures on our group’s Facebook page. Our main event for the day was also Eugenio’s Super Kid! Even though his birthday is on Saturday, we wanted to celebrate such a special day. Mr. Mike made a special super kid crown for the birthday boy and everybody sang Happy Birthday along Mr. Mike’s magic accordion. His mom and dad brought a tasty treat for everyone: “Conchitas” and Eugenio shared with all of his friends. Eugenio, Miss Karen and I want to wish you a very happy birthday, we love you very much!

What a fun and busy week we just had! During exploration time we played with letter magnets and our chalkboard. Kids identified their teachers and classmates learning their names. We had a fun fine motor skills activity called “Yarn apples”, a pasta and grains sensory box, but their absolute favorite was pretending to “ride” the School Bus.

In creativity class with Miss Cristy kids used chalk on dark paper, practicing the letter “S”. The Sort, Pick up and Put Away activity was definitely a big hit with the kiddos, they love to locate items in drawers and cubbies. Our paint activity of the week was making “Apple Prints”, turtles got half of an apple dipped in red and green paint, and they made some prints on some white paper. In order to review our school bus theme children made a cute “School Bus” craft made out of yellow and black construction paper, small piece of aluminum foil and stickers, they used a glue stick to paste the windows and the wheels, as well as the lights of their bus.

Some of the songs that we loved in our physical development class with Miss Mely were: “Wake up your muscles”, “Shake your bean bag”, “Music, music, music”, “If you’re happy and you know it…”, “Listen and move” and “Scarecrow”. Tiny turtles love music and they have a blast every time they get the chance to play a musical instrument, this week was no exception, we got some maracas and sticks.

Books we loved this week: “Clifford’s first school day”/ Fisher Price “I’m going to school today”/ The Berenstain Bears “The homework hassle”/ “I don’t want to go to school”/ Finding Nemo “Fish school”/

Video of the week: Mime visit to Toddler Tree 2014

This week’s vocabulary words were: Introduce school: classroom, chalkboard, calendar/ Table – chair – cubby/ Teacher – apple/ School – friends/ School bus – car seat

Our topics for next week will be: School box items/ Review my home and my school/ Review me, myself and I / Introduce shapes: Circle/ Triangle

Have a nice weekend!

Miss Judy and Miss Karen

September Week 4

Big Bears had fun learning all about school. They are also adapting to new rules and instructions such as how and where to line up, walk and sit. They are learning the consistency of a routine.

I would like to invite you to read a short story to your child at least four times a week. As you know, this activity will help her/him to develop language skills, both verbal and non verbal. I encourage you to have a conversation about the story afterwards. Your child will enjoy it!

This Friday the 25th we had fun pretending to be mimes. We had several children expressing feelings using mimics. Once they saw the real Mime their facial expressions were captured by our cameras. They all felt safe and were amazed by the Mime´s presentation.

Here is a short poem for such wonderful parents!

“An Apple for the Parent”

An Apple for the teacher…

It´s really nothing new.

Except when you remember

Parents are teachers, too!

Have a nice weekend!

Ms. Caya & Miss María Elena

Our School!

During this week, we have been talking about our school and everything related to what our students see and do in their daily  routine. Vocabulary words, such as classroom, chalkboard, calendar, table, chair, cubby, teacher, apple, friends, school bus and car seat have been reviewed daily during our school week. It was very easy for them to understand  this topic since they were learning about things that they can actually relate to and see and feel every day.  Using our magic pointer was fun to have the students name different items we would find in our classroom. Activities enjoyed by them to reinforce these concepts include: usings magnets on the chalboard using David´s box, which was made into a school bus with the help of his mom, in order to relate to the vocabulary word “school bus”. He was very proud to show us his school bus with pictures of his familiy on it! Mr. Mike talked about teachers, and the class is able to pronunce both Mrs. Martha´s and my name as well! A red apple was shown to them, and they even had the opportunity to taste a piece of it (if they wanted to). Most of them wanted seconds!! They also practiced their fine motor skills with an apple made of cardboard, since they had to use yarn to wrap it around the apple.

During their Creativity Calss this week our Tigers made a beautiful piece named “Northern Lights” using  colored chalk and cotton. They also worked with real apple halves and used them to make prints over poster board. These were later used as hats for them to take home! Finally, they made their own school bus using yellow and black construction paper.

Books read to them this week include titles such as: Elmo Goes to School, Baby Bop Goes to School, Clifford´s 1st School Day, Take Me to School With You, I am Going to School Today, and My School Bag. It is wonderful to see how much they can remain seated now during Story Time!

Being the leader is now understood by our students and they allow the leader to participate in his/her daily activities without interfering. It is such an exciting moment when they try to guess what is in the mystery bag everyday!

On Friday, we had a special visitor at Todderl Tree: a Mime! We had “prepared” our students previously by showing them the video of the Mime so they knew what to expect. Watching this video, they understood that he is a normal person, just putting some white makeup on his face. The kids were very attentive to what he was doing during his presentation!

Next week we will be reviewing all of September´s topics and beginning to talk about the different shapes. Our students will also get familiarized with our new season right now:  fall.

As you can see, our Terrific Tigers have many wonderful activities  prepared  for them everyday! It is a huge privilege to be able to be part of your child´s daily activities during their morning here with us!


My House

Dear Parents,

Tiny Turtles learned all about their house: kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, living room and dining room. We took the kids outside so they could play in the kitchen and the playhouse; they enjoyed hiding inside, opening and closing the windows as well as pretending to cook a yummy meal or grocery shopping. Children had a blast playing with a big plastic doll house and learning about the different rooms inside a house. Turtles had a big box full of furniture and they learned with items belong to each room of the house. We tried introducing new experiences and sensory activities to stimulate your child’s senses: touch, smell, taste, sight and hearing. This week we pretended to be bakers for a day, we hand out some flour tortilla dough and rollers, kids rolled the dough and then used a cookie cutter to make cookies. Next we pretended to put them in the oven and voila! Cookies were ready! (We shared galletas Marias) Kiddos had so much fun with this activity and enjoyed the feeling and texture of the flour tortilla dough between their fingers.

In creativity class with Miss Cristy we had the perfect project: House. With the help of paint and some paintbrushes turtles are making a house made out of the cardboard of a cereal box. As you are aware of children like to experiment and try new stuff, anything that involves a little bit of a mess is perfectly fine with them! On Monday turtles made some “puffy paint”, they started by mixing flour and water and a few drops of food coloring. Once their mix was done, every kid got a paper plate and used the different colors of their special mix (red, green, orange, blue, purple and pink) to make their own work of art. After this they took turns for placing their puffy paint plate into the microwave. One of the best parts of this activity was pushing the buttons to set the time and opening and closing the microwave door.

To celebrate our Independence Day kids made a Mexican flag, pasting red and green construction paper as well as the national emblem right in the middle. Little ones were excited to take it home on Tuesday just in time to commemorate such a special holiday.

Physical development class with Miss Mely is all about developing your kids motor gross skills, this week children practice their throwing skills by throwing a ball through a hoop as well as rolling a ball on the carpet and passing it to a classmate. Turtles got to wear some props this past Tuesday, everyone had a hat and danced around to the sound of mariachi music. Our class is learning some “listen and move” songs and they get to practice daily how to march around the classroom. Miss Mely plays some fun songs to get everybody moving around and shaking their body following simple steps and instructions.

Books we loved this week: “Breakfast time”/ “Mi casa”/ “My mother is great”/ “Peekaboo Morning”/ “Violets House”

Movie of the week: Ratatouille

This week’s vocabulary words were: Introduce house: kitchen/ Bedroom – bathroom/ Living room –dining room/ Review home

Our topics for next week will be: Introduce school: classroom, chalkboard, calendar/ Table – chair – cubby/ Teacher – apple/ School – friends/ School bus – car seat

Have a nice weekend!

Miss Judy & Miss Karen

September Week 3

During this week we had the opportunity to learn about the different parts of the house. Our Big Bears were quite interactive during several creativity activities. They were able to act as little chefs in their own kitchen pretending to bake a cookie! All the activities made our classroom a wonderful “home”.

Next week we will learn all about school items in our classroom. We will practice numbers one and two and will learn not only how to say the numbers, but recognize each number and understand what each one represents.

Big Bears will practice the following language patterns:

May I go to the bathroom please.

What do you see? I see..

We are very happy to let you know that the Mime will visit us on Friday September 25. He will review different feelings that can be expressed without saying words.

Have a great weekend!

Ms. Caya & Miss María Elena


Our House and the Rooms in It!

Dear Parents,

Our Terrific Tigers explored different rooms that we find in a house, as well as talking about the furniture and items you can find in each room. We talked about the kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, living and dining room. Pictures and posters were shown to them  to reinforce the concepts.  Our students pretended to be chefs, and they “baked” cookies in our kitchen. They also pretended to be sleeping on a bed, sitting in a living room and eating at a dining room! They love to pretend!

We took a tour inside “Willie Worm´s” house to look for baby worm, who was lost. We saw all the different rooms found inside a house until they finally found baby worm! Books such as Breakfast Time, My House, I Am Not Going To Get Up Today, Pooh´s Tree House, Be my Friend, and Violet´s House were read during Story Time.

In Creativity Class they were thrilled to bake their own puffy paint! They had fun playing they were in the kitchen, mixing flour, water and baking powder and mixing different food colorings and placing their mixture in the microwave oven to create their own puffy paint! Other projects done this week included making the mexican flag, and working with the blue tempra to paint over cardboard.

During our Cooperative Play time, the kids liked inserting straws into containers, making towers and patterns with blocks, picking out iems and placing them in ice-cube containers, as well as working on puzzles. They are getting really good at working together as a group!

It is always so much fun watching our leader of the day walk into our clalssroom with his or her special mystery bag and show us what they have in it! They feel really special when it is their turn to show the whole classroom what they brought from home.

Next week we will be talking about school and different objects and activities done throughout the mornings.  We can’t wait for Friday when a mime will be visiting ToddlerTree!

Mrs. Martha and I hope you have a very nice weekend!


Ms. Nancy

Me and My Family!

Dear Parents,

This week our main topic was “Me and My Family”. We learned about mom, dad, sister, brother, baby, grandma and grandpa. Here are some fun activities we did during the week: Children had fun role-playing using family puppets; trying to identify the different members of a family. Kids absolutely loved the big plastic playhouse with “little family” toys and dolls. Our Tiny Turtles had a blast using play dough and cookie cutters boy and girl, and stars with different sizes, from big to small to resemble a family. For an outdoor experience we took the kiddos outside for a water play ball toss, with the purpose of stimulating and developing their gross motor skills.

In creativity class we started our “house” project, so far composed of three primary colors: blue, red and green. Turtles used sponges, paint, crayons, markers, stamps, rollers, etc. A color was chosen per day, using all the tools mentioned above. Little ones also liked the “handprints & footprints” activity with the help of their teachers they made the outline of their hands and then closed their hand and made a “footprint” by making a stamp of their closed fist.

Physical development is the time of the day to practice our gross motor skills. This week we practiced marching and making a line, as well as throwing a ball through hula hoops, sitting down in a circle and passing the ball, jumping and rolling.

We would like to remind you that on Wednesday September 16 there will be no classes due to the celebration of Independence Day.

Thank you!


Books we loved this week: “Just like mommy”/ “Arthur’s new baby”/ “My Grandma and I”/ “I love you mommy! /

Movie of the week: Princess and the Frog

This week’s vocabulary words were: Mom & Dad/ Sister, brother and baby/ Grandma and Grandpa/ Family review/ Mexican flag: Red, white and green.

Our topics for next week will be: Introduce house: kitchen/ Bedroom – bathroom/ Living room –dining room/ Review home

Miss Judy

Talking about the Family!

Dear Terrific Tigers Parents,

Week # 4 has finished already! During this past week we talked about the Family and its members. The vocabulary words used during this week were: mother, father, sister, baby, grandmother, and grandfather. Big posters of different family members were shown to our students and it was interesting to see how  well they payed attention. Some of them even mentioned who their brothers or sisters were. We used the family boxes also and it was very exciting for them when it was turn for their box to be displayed in class. They were very proud to point out to the different members of their own family!

During Creativity Class this week they worked on different techniques and colors, such as green, red and blue. They used their own hand prints, crayons, sponges, markers and rollers on the different colored papers.

Books read this week included titles such as: My Mommy & I, Daddy & Me, Babies, ! Who´s my Mommy? My Grandma & I, My Grandpa & I, I am a New Brother! and All About Me!

Our Cooperative Play Time included activities such as making towers with blocks, separating the different colored chips into the containers, picking items out and placing them in ice cube trays, working on puzzles and using the peg boards.

One of their favorite activities of the day is the “Surprise Bag”, where the leader shows his/her classmates what is inside his/her special bag and everyone gets a chance to see what it is and talk about it! They really enjoy being the leader of the day!

We are very happy to have two new classmates in our Tigers group: Lilia María and Lázaro have joined our group and are now part of our class.They have transitioned very nicely into our daily routine.

Next week our theme will be house and the different parts it has in it. We would like to remind you that next Wednesday, September 16th is a National Holiday and we will not be attending school that day. We hope you enjoy spending time with your little ones at home!

We wish you have a very pleasant weekend!

Sincerely, Mrs. Martha & Mrs. Nancy

September Week 2

We enjoyed learning about our family. The activities each family member performs and their favorites. Some were able to give a specific name to each member of their family. Big Bears role played using dolls, hats, glasses etc.

During creativity with Ms. Cristy they had fun starting making their own cardboard house, using blue paint.

Next week we will discover the different parts of the house covering the following vocabulary: house (which includes living room, kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, and dining room). We will talk about things we have at home: lamps, beds, table, chairs, windows, doors, closet, mirror, sink, towel etc.

Big Bears love showing their “Mystery Bag” when its their turn to be leader, they feel really special.

Have a great weekend!

People at Play

“Play is the royal road to childhood happiness and adult brilliance.” Joseph Chiltern Pearce

Children are playful by nature:

From a very young age children interact with the world around them using all of their senses, taking cues from those who engage with them and imitating their actions, sounds and behaviors. We as parents are our child’s most important and influential teachers and we are being watched, constantly. We are not all, however, instinctively good at knowing how to play with our babies and toddlers, especially if we haven’t had much contact with young people in our lives before becoming parents, but it’s easy to learn. Playing with our children is much more natural and much less scary than we realize. For example, almost everybody at some point just “knows” to play Peekaboo with a baby, and just think of all the skills that little game teaches a child! Communication, interaction, taking turns, cause and effect, humour, object permanence, eye contact, facial gestures, emotions and the list could go on! All from a simple, easy game that requires absolutely nothing but a willing, engaged parent.

Children develop their learning capabilities in the first 5 years:
I once went on a training course where they shared this information, and it was sobering to hear. A child’s brain develops more rapidly in the first 5 years of life than it ever does again, forming so many connections between the left and right side of the brain and essentially establishing its “ability” to learn new information in the future. A child left with no stimulation or enriching playful experiences is going to learn more poorly after the age of 5 than a child who has been played with, talked to, read to and stimulated on a regular basis. They need to interact with toys, materials, books, multi-sensory experiences and nature in order to develop real building blocks for learning. Too much screen time limits the sensory interaction, crushes creative, imaginative development and limits time spent communicating with others. Of course some TV and computer time is fine, as balance is so important, but some children’s activities tend to be top-heavy in this area.

 “There is nothing that human beings do, know, think, hope and fear that has not been attempted, experienced, practiced or at least anticipated in children’s play” Heidi Britz-Crecelius

How can we play with our children?
Playing with a young child takes on so many forms and we are familiar with them from our own childhood experiences. It doesn’t require anything extraordinary or expensive, and oftentimes it’s the natural or recycled resources that offer the most diverse and interesting play experiences. Playing with our children should be fun, relaxed, low-pressure and woven into every part of our ordinary daily routines. Here are a few examples of the types of play that we can engage with every day with our children.

Heuristic Play:  This sounds high-brow but really all it means is playing with “objects.” This is the type of thing our grandparents figured out a long time ago without any text books or websites to tell them what to do! Give a child a new toy and within a few minutes all he wants to do is rip the paper and twizzle the ribbon between his fingers. Try and set him up with a game in the living room and he follows you to the kitchen and happily pulls out all of the pots and pans, stacking and banging them together and making a wonderful mess! This all makes perfect sense because only by testing and exploring these real life objects can young children work out how to use them in life! It’s also a wonderful release for us as parents, because we don’t have to constantly fork out for the next expensive toy all of the time! (In fact, we’ll probably be doing them a favor if we don’t.)

Exploring a Treasure Basket of found and natural objects. Babies can start this from when they can sit up! Far more open-ended and stimulating than a plastic, electronic toy with one or two functions.

Playing with cotton wool balls and pads! Who knows why or what she’s thinking.

Filling and emptying a cake tin with cardboard tubes and opening and closing boxes.

Sorting and stacking with some nesting mixing bowls.

Sensory/ Messy Play:
This is by FAR the most important way that young children learn as it’s all about the senses at this stage of development. Indeed it’s mainly through taste and touch that they are discovering and making sense of the world in the first 3 years of life. And yet we often resist these activities because of the mess that it involves (and I totally understand this feeling!) However, you can always do these things in the garden, the bath, on the kitchen floor or in a deep, plastic tray to contain things a little bit. Your child will thank you for ever for giving them some of these experiences in early life!

Blowing and mixing bubbles in coloured water.

Playing with coloured shaving foam (in our outdoor water table!)

Sticking matchsticks and other objects into play dough. Play dough and salt dough are SO easy to make and offer such a rich variety of playing and learning experiences.

Simple water play fun, pouring and splashing and sitting in it! The bath is, of course, the world’s best water play facility!

Playing with (and indeed in!) packing noodles, shredded paper, hay, straw, sand, mud etc.

I’m a firm believer that a child needs to be allowed to get messy and that it really won’t harm them to do so! Too much anxiety about getting messy and eventually they won’t even want to do painting and glueing as they will be afraid of it. What a shame! (I’m not talking about children who have a genuine sensory problem here, of course.)

Imaginary and Role Play:
This develops younger than we realize as it’s all about imitation. Baby watches us cooking three times a day and soon enough baby wants to stir in a play saucepan and cook at a toy oven! There are some wonderful resources on the market for role play and imaginative play, such as toy cookers, dolls, shops, market stalls, tool kits, dolls houses and fire stations. You can also set up role play scenes for no money at all using a cardboard box to represent a car/ house/ shop/ space ship/ police station/ boat etc. The less pre-described toys and the greater the imaginative resources the child will have to draw on.

Having a picnic tea on the floor with a favourite teddy.

Delivering the mail in a cardboard post box!

Building on a building site using blocks, tape measures, tools and hard hats!

Driving a cardboard box car (filled with balls for an extra sensory dimension!)

Small World Play:

This is another form of imaginary play and dolls houses, police stations, fire stations, hospitals etc would all fit into this category too. Small world is exactly what it sounds like- a miniature play scene with figures, objects, scenery and a sensory element to enrich play and stimulate imaginative, creative and language development. Children as young as 2 and a half can begin telling their own stories through scenes like these.

A seaside small world scene with shells, pebbles and sand in a tray with some figures and a yoghurt pot for a boat.
Some beans, wood, real leaves, bark, dried pasta and play dough make up a dinosaur small world scene.

These sorts of scenes can be created by older children all by themselves and are totally absorbing for them to work on as a project.

Outdoor Play:
There is some powerful research that suggests the most important and special memories from our childhoods usually take place outside. When I think back to what mine are, this is definitely true for me. It was the summers spent playing outdoors, camping under sheet tents over the washing line, tramping through grassy fields on adventures, making mud pies in the garden and rock-pooling at the beach. Not a lot of the “best bits” happened inside. And, funnily enough, I don’t remember being cold out there. We don’t all have gardens but we do all live near at least a park or playground, if not a short distance from the countryside or seaside.

Running through a giant muddy puddle at the park! Oftentimes it’s just about getting the right all-weather gear for them to wear, and then wrapping up warmly ourselves!

Learning some new gross motor skills at the playground!

Playing in the garden together in all weathers!

Having a space of their own to dig and play without fear of messing things up.

Creative Play:

This covers art, craft, music making and dramatic play. These are some of the easiest activities to set up as there are so many great resources out there to buy for young children and a plethora of ideas to follow on the internet!

Babies can get involved too! Finger painting fun.

Colouring, tearing and sticking.

Painting and printing with everyday and recycled materials.

Making collages with scraps of fabric.

Creating texture in paint by dragging through forks, pizza cutters and other objects.

Painting and glueing sequins onto a pumpkin!

Making models from junk materials and using them for exploratory play. Rolling balls down tube slides in this case!

Reading books, story telling and puppet play:

These are so vital for a child’s development of language and literacy skills, not to mention just how much information about the world is picked up through every story or information book that is shared. Children should be surrounded by age appropriate books and also read to from slightly “older” books too to offer a rich and stimulating range of vocabulary, concepts and ideas. Rhyming books and picture books are fundamental staples for all under 5s. Ideally, books should be in most rooms of the house and in easy to access, low level boxes or baskets.

Reading in a cardboard play tunnel we made!

Finding your own spaces for looking at books. In this case, the washing basket!

Creating cozy spots for snuggling up together!
Playful childhoods create happy, independent, creative and imaginative children. Albert Einstein said “Imagination is more important than knowledge” which is a pretty mind-blowing statement if you take the time to think about it! We are the most important people in our children’s lives during these early, formative years and if we take the time out of our busy schedules to sit down and play with them, talk to them, make up stories and sing together we will be offering them the best scaffolding on which to build their later life experiences. We just need a range of good quality, toys, blocks and imaginary play items, cardboard boxes, recycled materials, art supplies, books and…most importantly…time!

And to sum up, perhaps my favourite play quote of all by George Bernard Shaw:

 “You don’t stop playing because you grow old, you grow old because you stop playing.”
So, let’s keep playing and stay young!