EduKids Early Childhood Education Centers

Archive for November 2011

Kate Dust, EduKids Education Director

Children are thinkers.  From infancy, our brains are wired to observe.  We use all 5 of our senses to investigate the world and collect as much information from as many sources as we can! 

Thinking skills include problem solving, sequencing, understanding and processing, anticipating, application of new knowledge to what is already known and the ability to learn more.  Thinking is choosing, organizing, creating, memorizing and using language & communication.

Wow!  Not only is it important to understand that our children are thinkers, it is important to support this critical lifelong skill. There are definite ways we encourage thinking.  Start with play!

Are you thinking about children’s holiday gifts?  Here are some ideas that support thinking skills for infants to school agers….

Puzzles: for older infants and toddlers choose large piece puzzles with knobs and picture boards to match pieces.  As children get older pieces are flat and should interlock.  Puzzles make wonderful family stations.  Keep a jigsaw puzzle “open” for your family to work on individually or as a group.

Blocks & props: soft blocks for babies.  Toddlers and older children enjoy blocks that connect as well as solid shape building blocks.  Block “props” add many layers to block play; buildings, people, animals, trucks & vehicles change play ideas and language.  Also consider peg boards, magnets, scales, gears and tracks.                      

Creative materials: play-doh, paints, craft materials, all sorts of paper, lacing boards, sewing and beads.  
Problem solving games: simple to complex card games, board games requiring turn taking, simple & appropriate computer games for older children, Detective games and lock boxes.

Think about health: outside equipment, obstacle courses, jump ropes, balls, hoops and dance & exercise mats are great.  Don’t forget measuring and cooking materials, cookbooks and kitchen helpers!

Language builders: Books, books and more books – picture books,  board books, favorite authors or types (rhymes, animals, chapter books…), seasonal & holiday focused books and classics are always welcome. Pencils, pens, fancy markers, crayons, chalk, notebooks and props to play school are big hits! 

Music:  instruments and songs.  Consider taking an older child to a play or concert (include lunch!)

Pretend Play:  turn a corner of a child’s world into a place to play house, school, or community helper i.e. firefighter, police officer, builder, artist, mail carrier or pizza maker. Include costumes and props.

Consider safety first when selecting toys for a child.

Keep toys simple, sturdy and easy to store.

Reconsider a toy that requires its own budget.

Always consider a toy that engages children with their favorite thinker of all – YOU!

“Invest a few moments in thinking. It will pay good interest.”Benjamin Franklin

-Kate Dust, EduKids Education Director

Kate Dust, EduKids Education Director

Holidays are here.  I already hear the moans and groans.  While I am tempted to join you, I will instead say these words of wisdom offered by my mother each and every year; “Stop it and enjoy!”   Words to live by.

Unless you live in a bubble, this is what you have noticed….While there are still jack-o-lanterns on porches, there are also wreathes with fancy “turkey” feathers and cornucopias to signal Thanksgiving.  In the middle of all of this are twinkling holiday lights on trees and lawn blow-ups of Santa with his reindeer ushering in Christmas.  Stores are a mix of orange, browns, green & red, treats, turkeys and tinsel.

We are often overwhelmed and actually annoyed by all of this. As adults, we wonder why there is no time between times! And it shows.

But what do our children think?

  • Babies have no idea what a calendar is or what our formal systems of time are like.  But babies are completely tuned into you.  They absolutely know when you are excited, happy and relaxed.  They also know when you are rushed, aggravated and stressed.  You are their world.  Babies are brilliant. 
  • Toddlers recognize a calendar as boxes that you write on. It hangs in the kitchen.   Or calendars are part of their friendship gathering circle in childcare.  Toddlers pay attention.  They hear the way your voice sounds and they know the way your body moves when you are having fun, when you get excited and when you are happy.  They also know what you are like when you hurry, complain or feel frazzled.  Look at a toddler’s eyebrows to know what they are thinking.  They will be like you.
  • Preschoolers and young school-agers are getting the hang of time systems.  They are typically good at understanding the big picture.  They understand about seasons, then move into calendar months that “go with” a season of the year.  Small time is recognized and remembered when it is meaningful, i.e. birthdays, game days and holidays.  They don’t miss a trick.  Preschoolers and young school-agers are totally aware of what your triggers are and your reactions to them.  This worries them and can keep them anxious.  They don’t like it when you are stressed and they take everything personally.  Preschoolers crave the sound of your laughter and delight in the times you laugh together.  They totally soak up your attention and affection.  They are like you.

So, once again, I know my mom is right.  There is never enough time and this time of year can bring out the best or the worse in us.   In reality, this is the perfect time that offers us ways to honor and cherish all that we hold dear.  A time to show family and friends unconditional love.  Or we can be swallowed up in a time that offers us ways to complain and feel helpless.

Either way, our children will know what we choose.

So, let’s stop whining – and smile!

“A smile is the light in your window that tells others that there is a caring, sharing person inside.”Denis Waitley

-Kate Dust, EduKids Education Director

Kate Dust, EduKids Education Director

“Just because it’s cold outside doesn’t mean you can’t have ice cream.”  These very astute words were said by a 6-year-old birthday girl who was taking great pleasure in chocolate ice cream cups shared with her classmates.  There was, of course, fancy cake on the side. Well, she’s absolutely right about the weather and about the ice cream.

Not just beloved ice cream but freezers full of cold delights are welcome all year long.  And they offer a great way to keep children eating and drinking nutritious foods.  How about trying some chilly children’s favorites?  Include your Chilly children as helpers – it’s part of the fun!

Ice Skaters’ Ice Cream                                                                                             

  • 2 1/2 pounds fresh seasonal soft fruit (peaches are great; can substitute canned for fresh)
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 pint half-and-half cream
  • 1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 (12 fluid ounce) can evaporated milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups whole milk, or as needed


Puree fruit with the sugar and half-and-half in batches in a blender or food processor.
In a gallon ice cream freezer container, mix together the fruit mixture, sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, and vanilla. Pour in enough whole milk to fill the container to the fill line, about 2 cups. Freezes in 60 – 90 minutes.

Spoon into gold metal cups and eat with your skates on!

Polar Bear Breakfast Smoothies                                                                                     

  • 1 quart strawberries, hulled
  • 1 banana, broken into chunks
  • 2 peaches
  • 1 cup orange  juice
  • 2 cups ice                                        


In a blender, combine strawberries, banana and peaches. Blend until fruit is pureed. Blend in the juice. Add ice and blend to desired consistency.
Pour into frosty glasses and serve.                                                                                

Wear your cozy scarf when drinking breakfast with the Polar Bears!

“I Scream! You Scream! We all scream for Ice Cream!” Traditional children’s song

-Kate Dust, EduKids Education Director


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