Our Trip to Ecosource Garden of the Valley

Our Trip to Ecosource Green’s 

Garden of the Valley was simply beautiful.

First, we meet as a class in our mindfulness circle. The children were led through a series of breathing, listening and relaxation exercises. This helped the children to understand and engage their senses, and tune into their personal well-being every day.

Students’ explored the garden using magnifying glasses, picked mint and made mint tea, used loose parts, tended to the garden. 


Students picked a handfuls or so of large mint leaves, washed them well and gently dried the mint with some paper towel.


Children love the natural world. An outdoor space that is rich in natural features can powerfully stimulate their sense of wonder and discovery. Where do ants live? Where do they get their purple colour? Looking for bees: Bee hunting, finding and following honeybees, is a mix of excitement and mindful meditation that provides valuable insight into the lives of bees.



Students found a quiet space in the garden to rest and explore the shells.

By providing props and making spaces that allow children to act out their imaginary worlds. Environments that facilitate storytelling and dramatic play. Set the stage for children to imagine themselves in many different roles.


Students explored a variety of shells on a tray so they could explore them in whatever fashion they wanted to. Students were observed using their olfactory sense to find out what the shells smelled like. (The answer? “Not much.” :-)) Students also used their sense of touch to decide if the shells were rough or smooth.

In childhood one is more open to sensory impressions than ever again in one’s life. Smells, sensations of heat, softness, weight, beauty and much more, form the basis of all of life’s later sensations.

– Eva Insulander, Swedish School Ground Designer and Planner

After meeting again and reflecting on our learning for the day, the children were given time for free play. During this time the students exercised their social skills while engaging in cooperative, imaginative play in the garden, and with loose parts. By encouraging the children to explore and understand the space independently, children are learning to be self-reliant.

Student voices from the garden…



“The water collected in the garden comes from the rain!” H.J.


“Our water smells like mint, we picked fresh mint.” A.F.


“There are so many bees looking for nectar.” T.S.


“This is our mini world, the animals love the garden.” M.D.

Children role play real-life situations through imagining scenarios and building small worlds. Plants, sand, and soil are materials that small children can relate to and manipulate for building and creating their own small worlds.




Our Butterfly Inquiry

“The children experiencing the transformation of the caterpillars to butterflies was magical. I can’t help but relate this experience to the uniqueness of teaching kindergarten and being able to learn and grow with the children. Metaphorically, they really do start out like little caterpillars that grow and grow over time and then one day, when they’re ready they spread their wings and fly.” -Wonders in Kindergarten


At its core, inquiry-based learning in kindergarten is about asking essential questions. When we invite young learners to wonder, we encourage investigation and creativity, to explore new possibilities, ways of thinking and solving the problems of the world.

Our Butterfly Inquiry was so special. 

To begin our inquiry we read The Very Hungry Caterpillar. As soon as the story was finished, we looked back through the book and asked the children to think about how the caterpillar changes in the story naturally this provided the context for questions and wonderings. Many of the children noted the growing process during which the appearance of the caterpillar changes drastically. The process of wondering took time to develop, after reading various books, watching videos/clips and finally having the caterpillars in the classroom, students began to share many of their wonderings because the children could connect with the caterpillar daily, make connections and verbalize their observations.

Our central theme in the classroom around inquiry was to develop a sense of noticing, naming and wondering.

“Inquirybased learning emphasises a student’s role in the learning process and asks them to engage with an idea or topic in an active way, rather than by sitting and listening to a teacher.”


Answering our questions… our wonderings…

Through book readings, videos, other research, and provocations, we may answer a few of the questions over time, but some questions we may never answer and that is okay. Sometimes the children have amazing theories and we discuss them. Inquiry, in the way I see it, creates and fosters a community of learners that become amazing observers, theory makers, and most importantly, wonder seekers. I believe regardless of the collection method, students are always encouraged to question, wonder, and share their wonderings with educators and classmates.


Once our butterflies arrived we placed various non-fiction books to support student inquiry.


One of the questions students ask was: “How long do butterflies stay in the chrysalis, or pupal stage?”

We learned:

  • Butterflies have four distinct stages in their life cycle. They start as an egg, hatch into a caterpillar, turn into pupae during metamorphosis, and finally emerge as a butterfly.
  • Different species of butterflies stay in the chrysalis, or pupal stage, for different periods of time. This can range from about seven days to more than a year, but for a large number of species it is less than 30 days.
  • The painted lady butterfly spends only seven to 10 days in the chrysalis.


Inquiry Prompts:

I like having available in the classroom injury prompts, I have this posted at the inquiry/science table. It helps me encourage students to wonder about the topic we are presently exploring. As their ideas will lead them to ask questions and become curious. This approach puts students in the center of the learning and offers opportunities for every child to feel included.


Representing the Butterfly Life Cycle

We learned: The butterfly life cycle includes four stages: stage one: egg; stage two: larva; stage three: pupa; and stage four: adult butterfly. Butterflies transform through these stages. This transformation is called metamorphosis.



Loose Parts + Butterfly

Since students have been working towards developing their own oral stories this term. We began by reading several stories where the main character was a butterfly.

A class favourite book throughout the inquiry was Bob and Otto by Robert O. Bruel


These stories helped students explore various characters, events, settings and problems in the different stories. Students were invited to use play dough, non-fiction texts (for research), and loose parts (glass beads) to create butterfly stories. Students orally shared their stories with the educators. 


“The butterfly in finding a hiding spot in the bushes, so it doesn’t get eaten by birds, snakes, toads, rats, lizards, dragonflies.” -C.B.


“The butterflies were very thirsty because it was so hot outside, they are puddling together to get the moisture from the soil.” A.B.


“The butterflies have spotted a toad in the pond. The are moving slowly so the toad doesn’t see them. The two butterflies have found a small drop of water.” T.F.

Butterfly Wings and More…

The students watched a various clips from the documentary about Monarch butterflies on called “Flight of the Butterflies” which coincides with their southern migration.  They were fascinated with this process and the intricate wing patterns of this species and butterflies in general after looking closely at deceased butterfly.  Extending their interest, we decided to invite the students to create their own wing designs using loose parts.


After exploring butterfly wing designs students began to notice that the patterns, colours, and shapes were the same on either side of the wing. We discussed that in math, symmetry means that one shape becomes exactly like another when you move it in some way: turn it, flip it or slide it. We demonstrated that shapes on one side of a line are the same as on the other side of a line.

Some of the students symmetrical experiences included…


Writing: “If I were a Butterfly?”

Students had the opportunity to draw and write: What they would do if they were a butterfly. Where would they fly to?, What would they do?, How would they feel?, Who would they visit?, What may they eat?”…





Dandelion Wishes in Kindergarten

Students were observed running through the dandelions fields during outdoor play, picking the dandelions, drawing the dandelions, writing about their dandelion wonders, and dancing in the dandelion covered fields. Students also shared that they could make a wish when you blew the dandelion.

“Hold the fluffy head of your dandelion near your mouth and turn carefully in the direction of the breeze. This insures a good flight for your wish and keeps all the seeds from landing on your clothing or in your hair. For the magic to be at it’s best you must blow all the seeds off with one breath. “



After a few days exploring the dandelions, we realized that the students’ intrigue was enough to fuel another inquiry.

Our Inquiry: Making a Dandelion Wish


What we learned about Dandelions?



Dandelion Lifecycle: Dandelions go through several life stages. They start out as a tiny seed and then grow into a plant. The plant grows flower buds that bloom into yellow flowers. The yellow flowers then close and transform into poofy seed heads. The seeds eventually blow away like tiny parachutes and the cycle starts again.



We watch a couple videos, read some books, and encouraged students to look at pictures of the various life stages of a dandelion and then challenged to go outside and find an example of each lifecycle stage.

Time Lapse Dandelion From Flower To Seed Head is a really cool time lapse video of the dandelion transformation from flower to seed head.



Students were invited to write down their wishes…


Ideas from: myclassroomtransformation.blogspot.

Extensions for home or your program: Compare the yellow dandelions with the white dandelions.  What are some of the similarities? What are some of the differences?  Consider discussing how the yellow dandelions transform into white dandelions.  On your walk, take notice of the size of the dandelions.  Collect a few dandelions and order them from shortest to tallest.



Autumn Leaf Man Exploration


With the coming of a new school year, I’ve decided to revisit one of my favourite autumn learning experiences with children: Exploring Leaves!

–This post is in reference to a experience I had with my Kindergarten class in Fall of 2018. However, reflecting on my teaching practice I’ve decided that I will extend this experience further when I encounter children’s similar interests in the future. 

Naturally children observe changes in the weather and in nature. Children are keen on sharing their wonderings, noticing and observations especially during autumn. In the Kindergarten classroom children were so busy observing this annual change in the season, and wondering why the many leaves of deciduous trees change colour during autumn and why so many leaves fall off the trees. Children also noticed that some leaves remained green while others changed in colours and hues (deciduous and evergreen trees).

“Why are those green?” K.L. (as he pointed to the trees)

“Don’t the needles change colour?” M.H. (while she picked up the evergreen needles from the trees)

“Look some are almost purple, these are brown and look here they are red!” B.G. (as child sorted the leaves outdoors)


Questions we asked to encourage wondering/inquiry:

  • What signs of fall can you see in the trees and on the ground?
  • How many different leaf colours can you find?
  • What will happen to the leaves when they fall on the ground? Where will they go?
  • Do the leaves travel anywhere?
  • Where do you think a leaf would go and why?
  • How many leaves do you think are on a tree?

A story I decide to share with the students was Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert. Lois Ehlert’s book Leaf Man follows a group of autumn leaves as they are blown by the wind over fields, past orchards, through prairie meadows, and across lakes and rivers. The leaves start out in the shape of a man and take on different configurations as they travel east, west, north, and south, going where the wind blows.


Our classroom journey with Leaf Man (flow of lesson)

I introduced the story by playing a sound recording of wind. This was done purposely to encourage children to begin thinking and exploring their sense of hearing … to begin naming their observations (signs) of autumn. (A conversation we were already exploring “Ms. Saenz it is so windy, I think that is why the leaves fall on the ground.”)

Other observations we discussed in the classroom included: How the air begins to feel crisper, especially in the morning when we walk to school, or wait outdoors. Students shared that sometimes the air begins to smell a bit different, it smells like soil. One child noticed that he saw morning dew on the windows of his mothers car… after these rich conversations I introduced the book…

We looked at the cover and together explored…

  • What they think the picture on the cover is. Identify what Leaf Man is made of.
  • Where has Leaf Man been, what could he be doing? Is he planning something? Does he go to school? Where does he live?
  • Name the different colours, shapes, and sizes of each leaf that makes up Leaf Man.

Invitations to explore, recreate, story tell

I didn’t take any pictures of the leaf man provocation in our classroom. However, I have included some photographs of other Kindergarten Leaf Man provocations for inspiration.

I love looking at the beautiful work of other passionate educators, there’s always so much to learn.

After reading the book with my students, I created a provocation of leaves, stones, and sticks and asked the children if they could create their own leaf person. I recored/scribed and supported children in their efforts at writing about what their leaf person was doing. I was also looking for children to express a connection with/understanding of the story we read.

Below is what our classroom display turned out to look like. I’ve also included samples of the students’ work and their thinking:

Moving forward

I’m excited to extend this activity in the future to include family partnerships and mathematics. I will do this by sending home a paper lunch bag inviting families to collect leaves they find outdoors.  

I love this idea from Early Years ideas from Tishylishy:

Mathematics Connection:

Once in class students gather together with their bags of leaves. I’ll place the hula hoops on the floor, overlapping them to create a Venn diagram. Choose a couple of leaves to sort by attributes and have students take turns adding their leaves. For example, if sorting by color, place a red leaf on the left, a yellow leaf on the right, and a red and yellow leaf in the center.

Examples of Letters that can be sent home:

Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.” “Every leaf speaks bliss to me, fluttering from the autumn tree.” “Notice that autumn is more the season of the soul than of nature.” “I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.” –unknown

Image result for autumn quotes


Our Month of October

Wow! What an October… we had soo much fun. Below are some of the daily experiences we engaged in!!

I’ll begin with math…

Ten frames are a simple tool that can help children immensely when it comes to counting, adding, and subitizing. It’s really amazing how much learning children get from these simple activities.

I noticed that even if a child can recognize the numeral symbol for a number they may not truly understand what that numeral represents unless they count each item one-to-one. Working with ten frames helps develop number sense because they actually understand number quantity rather than just identifying the number symbol.

Subitizing is the ability to instantly recognize the number of objects in a small set or arrangement without counting.

Using ten frames helps children see the quantity of each number and understand “how many” without counting. For example, eventually children will see the top row full and automatically know that’s five. This is the base skill needed for the ability to combine numbers from sets (like 5+2) and develop mathematical fluency.

What I observed children doing when they used the Ten Frames…



Here pictured above I observed a children sorting objects and counting each one. This was a very popular activity for children to naturally extend after using the ten frames. We focused on developing success, one of the most important goals was to help the students engage in using one-to-one correspondence.

While some students can recite the number sequence accurately (i.e. say 1, 2, 3, etc.) they are developing their understanding of maintaining one-to-one correspondence when counting a set of objects. Children not using one-to-one correspondence will not co-ordinate saying the number names with taking the counters one by one. Some will say more than one number per object; others will take more than one object per number.

I used google eyes as a counting manipulative and spiders on webs, I noticed these dice games helped strengthen number recognition, base 10 understanding, and addition and subtraction skills. Students roll a dice and then place that number of spiders on the web or google eyes. You may use a standard dice, numeral dice or any type of number representation type of dice to differentiate, support or extend

Students also picked a recipe card and counted out the objects to create the witches’ brew in the witches house, —dramatic centre!!


Alphabet Brew provides opportunities for students to recognise letters and practise the sounds that they make. Spooky Eyes are labelled with each letter of the alphabet and placed in a cauldron (Clear container). Students then select a spooky eyeball and say the sound of the letter written on the eyeball and use a bingo dabber to mark off the letter.


I am learning more about how to use our classroom word wall, I am discovering that an INTERACTIVE Word wall that allows children to access daily is most beneficial. Words used on the word wall are most helpful when they’re meaningful to the children. I believe this means the children’s names and certain words they like to write often should always be included. I also decided to include words and pictures used during specific lessons and surrounding holidays or special events relevant to the children’s daily experiences. Pictured below, is a photograph of a child’s inspirational drawing after i added some words.


Simple enough that the children could memorize it and recite it! The Halloween Sound Poem for Halloween was a hot –such a great way to encourage children to get creative with making sound effects and practicing our popcorn words!IMG_1346


Classroom Field Trip

We learned all about pumpkins, picked various classroom pumpkins (cinderella, knucklehead pumpkins, Jack-o-lantern pumpkins)… this sparked our interested into learning more about pumpkins.

We learned that Pumpkins have thick shells which contain pulp and seeds. Scientifically speaking, pumpkins are a fruit (they contain seeds) but when it comes to cooking, they are often referred to as vegetables. Pumpkins are usually shaped like a sphere (ball).

We extended our learning by reflecting on what we learned on our field trip… 

On the trip students noticed some pumpkins were open on the pumpkin patch… I used the photograph pictured above to help use reflect on what we wanted to learn more about the pumpkin… and begin exploring deeper the inside of the pumpkin. (I pictured the photograph on the smart board as we shared what we learned thus far).


Exploring a pumpkin activity

Fall is the perfect time of year to explore pumpkins! We got to see what was inside the pumpkin… I started by holding up the pumpkin for the children to see and asked them to predict what the inside of a pumpkin looks like. What color will the inside be? Will it be wet or dry? Once opened… I asked questions such as, “How does it feel?” or “What does it smell like?” to develop oral language, communication, and vocabulary.

Example of questions: (Connect these to the 5 senses)

  • How does it feel?
  • Is it hard, soft, mushy, slimy?
  • What does it smell like?
  • Can you hear anything?
  • Do you think we can eat this pumpkin?
  • Does it remind you of anything else you have smelled or touched before?
  • What color is the pumpkin?
  • What color are the seeds?


Inspired by real pumpkins –We used the pumpkins to create some Pumpkin Still Life Art using black markers and watercolours. Students observed the “ribs” (lines), the “skin” (green, orange, brown, purple), and the textures, size and weight or pumpkins.


“There is something incredibly nostalgic and significant about the annual cascade of Autumn” –Joe. L. Wheeler

Indigenous + Early Childhood Education

In Canada, Indigenous children are less likely to attend ECE programs compared to non-Indigenous children. This lag in attendance presents an immediate opportunity for policy intervention and a look into what we can do as educators to deepen or awareness, this blog post is just a starting point for the much learning that is ahead of me as I am certain I have much to learn.

As perhaps the most vulnerable segment of Canada’s population, Indigenous children may stand to benefit the most from having access to high-quality early childhood care and education.


“It represents a history, it represents a home, it represents a dwelling where families came together over the fire.”


Creating the culturally competent classroom involves the recognition of Indigenous culture and language.

I do understand many educators struggle to identify and use appropriate resources, and to create contexts in which such knowledge can be embedded. Educators with limited connections to Aboriginal peoples and cultures may require support to incorporate Indigenous knowledge respectfully and appropriately in the classroom.

Rather than just an add-on, the histories and cultures of Indigenous people can be integrated into each learning area to bring new perspectives to existing knowledge and practice, and to encourage interesting and innovative ways to incorporate this knowledge.

Thinking about traditional indigenous child rearing – baby doll in coolamon in home corner
Coolamon (plural coolamons)
An indigenous container with curved sides, typically used for collecting berries

It is essential to incorporate the unique learning values of Indigenous people in creating successful Indigenous-centred early education programs and policies. Unlike many programs based on western pedagogy, the concept of “holism” is a vital aspect of Indigenous-centred education.

Holism treats learning as a process that is spiritual as well as experiential, that has its foundations in language and culture, that spreads across all stages of life, and that integrates western as well as Indigenous knowledge.

Lovely way to incorporate indigenous play into the classroom! These could be used for matching or for storytelling!
Aboriginal story stones live in a basket in Story Corner
Exploring indigenous symbols at Pied Piper Preschool

Early childhood provides an enormous opportunity to build the roots for native language learning. This is particularly important in the Indigenous context, as the loss of culture and language is greatly felt by Indigenous communities due to a long history of colonization and marginalization. Preservation and continuation of languages and culture is a top priority for Indigenous people, and early childhood is the best time to focus on achieving this goal.

Here is a beautiful invitation to play and explore. The inclusion of this culturally specific way of communicating open a dialogue of the “many facets of natural language.


I end by describing my thoughts about learning … All people benefit from a sense of belonging, to their families, culture and communities. It is especially important in the case of parents caring for young children. Parents need to feel supported by family, friends, the community and by ECE’s.

Aboriginal people, through a long history of assimilation and discrimination, may not have this sense of belonging. This may impact their health and sense of worth, and may result in feelings of despair and hopelessness. There are many things that ECE’s can do to foster a sense of belonging in Aboriginal families with young children, connecting parents to the information and supports that they need in a respectful and caring manner, and acknowledging their strengths.

We must ask questions and seek current information about factors that influence Aboriginal children in today’s society and find ways that respect Aboriginal realities in our classrooms.


*Photographs do not belong to me, I am completely thankful for the beauty and dedication that has gone into allowing users to use these photographs for learning and dialogue.

STEM in the Early Years… Is it Possible??

STEM is an acronym for science, technology, engineering, and math. STEM Education, a term initiated by the National Science Foundation, refers to an educational approach which integrates more than one of these disciplines.

My favorite way of better understanding STEM: STEM really is a philosophy. STEM is a way of thinking about how educators at all levels—including parents—should be helping children integrate knowledge across disciplines, encouraging them to think in a more connected and holistic way.

Behind the magnifying glass! Exploring outdoors—👧🏻🌾🍃grasshopper with Sophia

STEM/STEAM for infants and toddlers is about providing multisensory experiences: Seeing, hearing, tasting, touching, and smelling are all important parts of meaningful learning experiences.


When my daughter Sophia was an infant and toddler, at home we began allowing her to touch leaves, watch spiders, hold sticks, listen to water and take her on nature walks.

Were we doing STEM infancy and toddler-hood?

Yes, I truly believe so. She was investigating the natural world around her, beginning to learn about how it works by testing it with her tiny fingers, watching it change, listening to its sounds, and feeling its textures.

The secret is to tap into their natural and innate curiosity about the living world. By simply allowing them to investigate, by encouraging them to ask questions about the real world, you are engaging children in STEM.

… something I feel that I am continually exploring in my own life as a mother and educator.

Become more intentional about what you are doing.  If you start by reflecting on what you are doing already, you will find you that you are already doing things in STEM and with an increase intention in your language and your ability to support children to predict what might happen next or explore or question, you will already be advancing those ideas of science, technology, engineering, and math.” (Dr. Killins on Bam Radio)

How Adults support STEM for Infants and Toddlers:
  • Provide materials
  • Join infants and toddlers in exploration
  • Connect experiences to what children have done or experienced before
  • Invite children to use their senses and describe their observations
    • How do they feel?
    • What do they look like?
    • How do they smell?
    • How do they taste?
    • How does it sound?

Now that my daughter is much older, we often go on “nature walks” as a family, where we encourage her natural curiosity for exploration. She loves the opportunity to collect, pick up and look at or ask simple questions about almost anything: rocks, fossils, seeds, leaves, sticks, bugs, or whatever seems to be peaking her interest that day. As we collect, observe or discuss with her we are encouraging her to create hypotheses about the things we see, and look at the different designs and shapes that we find in nature, as an initial inquiry into engineering design. I would love to extend her experience by bringing along binoculars, magnifying glasses, and a child’s field microscope to deepen her investigations.

Collecting with Daddy at Riverwood Conservancy
STEM Playground Engineering

STEM Activities for Preschoolers… you’ve probably already done some…

  • Go on a nature walk. Can be a great outdoor STEM activity for preschoolers. Take a reusable bag and encourage children to collect interesting objects (i.e., small round stones, leaves, seed pods, or flowers). Later children can sort their found nature materials into categories, such as color, texture, size, and shape. Skills used: math and science


  • Cook together. Find a simple recipe for preschoolers. Follow the recipe letting children help measure and mix. Skills used: science, technology, and math
  • Build ramps to test which cars, balls, or marbles go the fastest. Use a board, sheet of cardboard, or small table with one side elevated to make a ramp, this is often easiest in the block area. Roll a variety of objects, two at a time down the ramp to see which is fastest. Record your findings on a chart, or verbally share in the excitement with children. Skills used: engineering and math
  • Play with water. Water is a rich STEM material. At the sensory table (bin with water). Provide tools to experiment with like a turkey baster, empty dish detergent bottles, plastic measuring cups, etc. to fill and compare. Skills used: math and science


  • Set-up building activities with paper or plastic cups. Give a challenge such as, “How high can you make a tower of cups?” Measure each tower and record their height. Skills used: engineering and math


According to Dr. Sherri Killins, “What STEM does is give a label to what you are already doing… helping children to explore, observe, ask questions, predict, integrate their learning… its what we’ve always done in early childhood education.”

Some Resources I liked:

Be sure to check out the Children and Nature Network. Their site has a wealth of information on the back-to-nature movement.

The Boston Children’s Museum’s excellent STEM Sprouts Teaching Guide assists preschool educators in focusing and refining the naturally inquisitive behaviors of three-to-five-year-olds in STEM.

Patterns and Loose Parts

Pattern: When items are in a repeated sequence, they form a pattern.


Children will recognize and create patterns.

For example, when coloring they may shade a shirt in a “blue-red-blue-red” pattern. As they mature, the patterns will become more complex. When playing with blocks they may be able to put them in a “triangle-circle-square-triangle-circle-square” sequence.

Working on pattern recognition is an important area to practice with children in childcare. The ability to recognize, follow and predict patterns is an important early math skill. Understanding patterns helps children to understand and deal with the chaotic environment around them, as they learn to do things in the correct order.


The ECE’s role involves posing questions that alert children to patterns which occur naturally in the sequence of the day, such as in the songs sung, the books read, and the games played in outdoors and indoors. This is an ongoing and natural process. Activities should highlight patterns that are visual, kinesthetic, and auditory.

Tip: Experiences with sorting and classifying may help with the learning of patterns. The ability to work with patterns is strengthened by the recognition and identification of attributes such as colour, size, and shape.


Patterns are everywhere in math!

I have discovered the art of setting out materials in the classroom to be so inviting, and encourages children to explore with all their senses.

Math Language: Repeating pattern, position words (after, between, beside, before, next), attribute vocabulary (colour, size and shape).

Loose Parts = More Complex Play

Architect Simon Nicholson used the term “loose parts” to describe materials with varied properties that can be moved and manipulated in many ways. He theorized that the richness of an environment depends on the opportunity it allows for people to interact with it and make connections.


The term loose parts relates to any object which was can moved, carried, combined, redesigned, lined up and taken apart and put back together. Playing with loose parts is a popular activity in preschools and upwards to help children develop their skills in creativity, flexibility and independence.


Love the open ended nature of these activities. The children can be as creative as they want and all approach it in their own way. Very inviting and so gorgeously place loose parts.

When children are encouraged to use loose parts and try their own ideas, they are driven to learn. They are driven to not only ask their own questions, but also discover their own answers and create new possibilities. A child’s play with loose parts even begins to match their developing skill level (Daly and Beloglovsky, 2015), providing opportunities for divergent and creative problem solving.


Daly, L., & Beloglovsky, M. (2015) Loose parts: Inspiring play in young children. St. Paul, MN: Redleaf Press

Thank you to all the Early Childhood Educators and Elementary Teachers who have worked so hard to create activities for children. –credits to the photographs


A Welcome Stone: A Sense of Belonging

Arrival stones for attendance at a child care, fosters a sense Belonging. 

Belonging happens when a child has a sense of connectedness. Forming strong, trusting relationships are important to feel safe, explore and learn.  Children need to feel part of a community within their family, friends and the natural world.

Introducing Rocks to Children: Classroom Belonging Activity

“Everybody Has a Rock.”  Each child blindly selects a pebble from the basket.

Share with the children that their rock is waiting for them and that it will choose them.

Each child is responsible for putting his or her rock in the basket each morning and afternoon. Take attendance from the rocks remaining on the table.

“It is symbolic of their presence and gives them a little more responsibility.”


This is a wonderful nostalgic book for adults who collected rocks when they were children; I’ve observed my daughter collect rocks. And, some children who enjoy the natural world might appreciate it because it stresses their autonomy in the pursuit of choosing a rock of their very own. I also like how the girl stresses play with her rock can be more fun than playing with the kinds of things that have to be purchased.


Love this rock name idea from Stimulating Learning with Rachel.

Making the surroundings welcoming for all children and families

Welcome stones …

  • Children take the lead; actively shaping their day right in the morning.
  • Invite and engage others in the continuing process of program development including parents, the children themselves.
  • Educators listen and learn from the children as much as the children listen and learn from the educators.
  • Educators encourage children to explore nature and their natural environments.


Routines and activities to help children develop a sense of belonging in a child care program.



Looking at the environment and our practices with a critical lens can help us to strengthen our programs and thus foster positive development in the children we care for.

Questions to consider:

  • How do I foster relationships within my program to create a sense of belonging with both the families and the children?
  • How does the environment I provide support belonging?
  • Are there policies or practices I might reconsider?


“Growing” belonging

A sense of belonging doesn’t just happen; it takes time and effort to grow. Focused, planned ideas are important. Growing with your families creates not only a positive sense of belonging, but also helps foster the circle of nurturing: “You’ve taken such good care of me; I want to take good care of you.” This adds to what is special and unique about your program.