How to Talk to Your Kids About Bullying

6 Oct


October is National Bullying Prevention Month. Having conversations in the home with children about bullying can not only prevents potential conflicts in the classroom, but can also prepare your child for being confronted by a bully. Here are five strategies for talking to young children about bullying:

 1. Get to Know Their Social Life

Checking in daily with your child is the best way to know when social dynamics begin to change in a way that could indicate bullying. Encourage your child to talk about their friends, sports teams, and how their classes are going. Your questions are a great way to show that you care while also allowing you to keep track of any environmental changes that may be problematic.

2. Build a Trusting Relationship

Ensure your child knows the lines of communication are always open when it comes to talking to you about what is going on in their life. Even if your child tells you something that is shocking, suspend disbelief to instead let them know you trust what they are telling you.

3. Establish Rules for Online Conduct

Surprisingly, a high percentage of bullying occurs online. With the prevalence of technology at home and in the classroom, it is imperative to establish online conduct rules for children from an early age. This will develop an understanding of responsibility for communications both verbal and virtual. You can encourage your child to keep protected by following these two guidelines:

  1. Never say or do anything online that you wouldn’t say or do in person.
  2. Never share any information that you wouldn’t tell a stranger.

4. Involve Child in Problem Solving Discussion

Work together to come up with a solution so that your child feels empowered. Trying to directly contact the parent of the aggressor can sometimes lead to additional bullying and rarely solves the situation. Instead, take active steps to talk to your child about ways they can bring conflict to an end. Find more resources on standing up to bullies here:


5. Focus on Social-Emotional Learning

Showing children that everyone is different and speaking openly about the emotions certain actions can evoke is a key part of developing your child’s social emotional skills. Concepts like responsibility, respect, and kindness need to be taught before children can fully understand what a bully is and how to ensure they don’t become one unintentionally.

From books to games, the resources below can help you build social emotional learning in your children as they prepare for interacting with their peers:


Family Time: Puzzles to Piece Together!

29 Sep

shutterstock_195729920Looking for an activity you can do as a family? Beat the bad weather and spend quality time indoors with your little one by piecing together a puzzle! Floor puzzles are perfect for promoting hand-eye coordination, fine motor development, and problem-solving skills. Time away from technology can also be the perfect way for your family to catch up in between busy schedules! Here are 10 of our favorite puzzles for the family:


1.     Animals Themed Peg Puzzle Set (Set of 2)

Build dexterity in your toddler as they learn about friendly and familiar animals! Pictures under each piece provide children with visual cues of where to place each piece, not to mention the artwork is adorable!


2.     Famous Artist Floor Jigsaw Puzzles 

Does your family love classic art? Reconstruct your favorites with the Famous Artist Floor Jigsaw Puzzles. Along with including works of Cassatt, Monet, and Van Gogh, the set includes an insert explaining the history of the artwork and a biography of the artist.


3.     Green Start Topsy Turvy Pattern Play Puzzle 

Teach patterns with these colorful puzzles! Made with wood, the colorful square-shaped pieces provide for tons of pattern combinations. Get as creative as you want piecing together a new pattern each time!


4.     Prehistoric Sunset 24 Piece Puzzle 

This dramatic dinosaur puzzle provides for an educational puzzling session as you appeal to your child’s inner dino lover. With bright colors and scenery, this puzzle is great for starting science conversations!


5.     Beginning Skills Floor Puzzle 

Work on your child’s beginner skills with this fun, colorful puzzle set! Teach the alphabet, numbers, colors and shapes as children piece together the different puzzles.

31422a6.     Animal Block Puzzles (Set of 2) 

Mix things up with block puzzles! These nine-piece puzzles allow children to build both vertically and horizontally as they re-create familiar animals. Each puzzles features six puzzles to complete.


7.     Alphabet and Numbers Puzzle Pairs 

Teach the alphabet and numbers at the same time as children piece together pictures to the alphabet and dots to numbers 1-10! Make the puzzle more challenging by following included instructions for challenging skill-building games.


8.     OBLO™ Spheres 3-D Puzzle 

Take puzzling to the next level with these award-winning 3-D spheres! To graduate from one layer to the next, children must find the correct position for each piece to build a sphere within a sphere! Is your little puzzler up to the challenge?


9.     Dinosaur A to Z Puzzle 

The 26-piece friendly Stegosaurus teaches letters with fun puzzle play! Once built, the stegosaurus can stand on its own for hours of fun and learning for your preschooler.


10. Shark Jigsaw 100 Piece Puzzle 

Do sharks fascinate your child? Dive into the deep seas by reconstructing this colorful, ocean scene! Talk about underwater ecosystems and food chains for an impromptu science lesson.

Didn’t find the puzzle you wanted? Browse through an even greater selection of puzzles for varying age groups here:

Fresh Fall Activities!

22 Sep


Fall starts today! Celebrate the change in seasons with these fun activities you can do with your children. (Don’t forget the usual fall favorites of pumpkin spice, leaf piles, and fashionable fall boots and scarves!)


1. Study Science by Tracking Seasonal Trees

In the spring and summer, trees have green leaves. When fall arrives, however, many leaves change color. Instead of green, you can see red, purple, orange, and yellow.

What You’ll Need:

  • Camera
  • Clear contact paper
  • Trees

What to Do:

  1. Select an area outside that has several trees, including both deciduous (trees with leaves that fall off in the winter) and coniferous (evergreen) trees, if possible.
  2. Visit the trees in early autumn. Pick a tree to “adopt” and observe. Encourage your child to explore everything they can about the tree, such as feeling the bark; examining the leaves or needles; looking for seeds, pinecones, nuts, and so on.
  3. Take a picture of your child next to their tree.
  4. As the deciduous trees begin to show signs of change, take another photo of your child next to their tree. How does the tree look different? Take photos as the trees with leaves change color and then lose their leaves. Have the evergreen trees changed?
  5. Continue checking on your tree throughout the year. Take photos in the spring when the trees are budding and when they have all of their leaves in summer.
  6. Cover the photos with clear contact paper.
  7. Spread the photos on a table. What changes do you see over time?

Books to Enjoy:

Activity adapted from The Budding Scientist.

Screen Shot 2015-09-21 at 4.02.21 PM

 2. Bake “Hello, Pumpkin!” Muffins

What better way to give your child a healthy dose of beta-carotene than with a delicious and nutritious pumpkin muffin? The sweet taste will keep him or her coming back for more, and the whole-wheat flour and pureed pumpkin will pack a powerful nutritional punch!


  • 1 ½ cups canned pumpkin
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/3 cup butter, melted
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2/3 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon cloves
  • chocolate chips (optional)
  • raisins

Note: Makes 1-2 dozen muffins, depending on size.

What to Do:

  1. Grease a muffin tin, or place muffin liners inside the muffin cups.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (adult only.)
  3. Invite your child to mix all of the dry ingredients together in a large bowl.
  4. Mix the wet ingredients together in a smaller bowl.
  5. Show your child how to make a well in the dry ingredients. Then help him or her pour the wet ingredients into the well of the dry ingredients.
  6. Mix gently until blended. If you want to add chocolate chips to the muffin mix, do so now.
  7. Fill the muffin cups about ¾ full. Give your child raisins to make faces on top of every muffin. Say, “Hello, Pumpkin!’ each time he or she creates a face, and be prepared for giggles!
  8. Bake for about 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean.

Activity adapted from The Budding Chef.


3. Create a Fall Leaves Art Suncatcher!

Finally, fall is a season full of beautiful colors that can sometimes come along with chilly weather. Celebrate the season from indoors with a colorful art project best appreciated by bright windows! The Fall Leaves Resist Art Suncatcher is a great tactile project for little hands. Find instructions for making this fun art project here:

How will you be celebrating the season? Let us know by commenting below!

Picking Out the Perfect Snuggle Buddy!

15 Sep


Trying to get young children to go to sleep for naptime or bedtime can always be a struggle. Having something as simple as a snuggle buddy can go a long way in expediting the process. If you’re thinking about purchasing the perfect snuggle buddy for your child, we have a four suggestions to give your little one the best plush experience:


1. Choose the Perfect Animal:

Knowing what your child likes best as far as animal preferences and themes can help narrow down your snuggle buddy selection tremendously! Whether it’s teddy bears, Sesame Street, Curious George, Pusheen Comic Cat, or Paddington Bear, we have a plush pal for everyone!


 2. Pillow or Plush Blanket?

For infants, soft animal mats can be the way to go as they provide the perfect cozy area for babies to enjoy some quality cuddle time while also providing a snuggle buddy! If your baby caters more to a tactile experience, we suggest the soft Buddy Blankets or Sleepy Sshlumpies. Both options are great for providing children soft textures to feel as they fall asleep.


3. Enter the Sleepy Sshlumpies Giveaway!

Don’t miss out on our Sleepy Sshlumpies Giveaway this week on Facebook for your chance to win your choice of three Sleepy Sshlumpies: a fox, a dog, or a bunny. These lush blankets also double as cuddly stuffed animals, making them the perfect companions for naptime. Enter by telling us how you get your baby to fall asleep here.


4. Choose a Special Snuggle Buddy Name:

Once you’ve picked out the perfect snuggle buddy for your child, be sure you help them come up with a name. Naming their animal is a great way to form an attachment and sense of friendship as they learn to settle in for nap time or bedtime with their new friend!

Happy naptime! Don’t forget to share and like your favorite naptime strategy on our Facebook page. 

Developing a Growth Mindset in Kids

8 Sep


The new school year is sure to bring challenges and obstacles for your children. Developing a growth mindset early on is important to not only success in the classroom, but in any challenge they face for years to come. Here are five ways you can encourage your children to be prepared with an open mind:

1. Revel in the struggle.

Many times, when our children struggle, our first instinct is to have them switch to something easier or even complete the task for them. However, when struggle is seen as part of the growing process, children can be taught to view it as learning. Acknowledge your child is struggling by using statements like, “I know you’re struggling, but you’re learning how to do it.” It will make the accomplishment so much sweeter. Incorporate music learning with Tough Stuff: Songs of Motivation CD. 


2. Try new things.

Without trying new things, children’s horizons are limited as they are given fewer opportunities to grow. Encourage your children to step outside of their comfort zone, whether it’s attempting a feat on the playground they think they can’t do, trying new food at the dinner table, or meeting new people. The willingness to try new things will establish the early stages of a growth mindset. To challenge children at home, start browsing our puzzling and brainteaser section:


3. Explore the concept of continual learning.

Intelligence isn’t fixed. This is an important concept for children to understand. Even mommies and daddies continue to learn every day! Be sure you’re open about continual learning and how it changes the brain and improves intelligence even as an adult. For a range of topics you can teach your children about every day, don’t miss the Learn Every Day series! 


4. Teach the importance of failure.

Even failures can be seen as a positive when seen through the lens of growth. When your child fails, encourage them to ask questions like, “What mistakes did I make?”, “How can I do better next time?”, and most importantly, “What did I learn from this?” This will instill resilience in children from an early age and an appreciation that success comes with hard work and perseverance. To learn more about how you can promote resilience in young children, check out Socially Strong, Emotionally Secure.

5.  Encourage positive self-talk when it comes to problem solving. 

Finally, encouraging your child to keep a positive perspective when faced with challenges is so important. Here are a couple phrases you can use to encourage and model positive self-talk:


Related Links:

Learning About Careers for Labor Day!

1 Sep


Labor Day weekend is quickly approaching! Do you have plans for your family? The three-day weekend can be a great time to teach your children about different careers in the community as well as get them thinking about potential career paths for themselves! Here is a fun project you can do together to celebrate the holiday with young children:

The Jobs People Do Project


  • Poster board
  • Markers
  • Graphics representing different jobs
  • Glue
  • Clothing proper representing different jobs
  • Various proper representing different jobs
  • Magazines
  • Construction paper

What To Do:

  1. Take a survey; ask parents in the community what they do for a living as well as discussing what you do for a living. Make a list of their jobs.
  2. Ask your children what they think each position does or includes and record their responses.
  3. Compare what your children say with what the jobs actually include. Talk a little about each type of job. One great way to do this is by using the Career Book Set. Make sure you don’t make children feel as if they answered incorrectly. Gentle correction is always best.
  4. Continue until you have talked about every job and then make a list of all of the jobs on a piece of poster board.
  5. Make a word/picture graph depicting community jobs. At the top of the graph print: “The Jobs People Do.” Under the heading make two columns, one for Moms and one for Dads. Print each parent’s job in the proper column. Add a small graphic that represents that job next to the printed words.
  6. Break out the dramatic play! Encourage kids to use props to pretend they are working at the different jobs discussed. If you’re in need of props, check out our career selection below:



  1. Cut out magazine pictures of people working to make a Jobs Collage as a family project.
  2. Work to create a unique and colorful jobs mural on poster board. Title it: “The Jobs People Do” and display it in your home for all to see. You can adapt this mural to do “Jobs I Want To Do” and have children include careers they are interested in.
  3. Wind up your celebration of the jobs people do by visiting a career place of your child’s choice. Libraries, fire stations, and sheriff’s offices are all usually open for the holiday, but it depends on individual hours. So, be sure to check beforehand!

Activity adapted from The GIANT Encyclopedia of Monthly Activities For Children 3 to 6.

For even more resources to get your children talking about what careers they are interested in, check out these career toys:

Back to School: 5 Questions to Ask Teachers

25 Aug


Are your kids starting school this week? As your children take off for the classroom, here are five questions you’ll want to ask their teacher to ensure they have a productive school year. After all, it’s always best to know how you can get involved to best supplement children’s learning experience in the home.

1. Is there anything I can tell you about my child that will help you better support them in the classroom?

Helping an educator understand your child’s needs from the start is a great way to equip them for a more meaningful relationship with your child. This can include anything from food allergies to personal strengths and weaknesses. The information exchange will allow for greater inclusivity in the classroom as well as act as an assurance for you that your child is being properly catered to in an active learning environment.


2. How can I provide the proper homework support?

It is paramount to establish a homework routine at the beginning of the year. Whether it’s checking a homework folder, signing off on a weekly newsletter, or checking a website, keeping up-to-date with your child’s homework requirements and holding them accountable to complete their weekly work load is key to their success in the classroom. Check out of some of our favorite homework resources below:


3. How should I respond when my child is struggling in the classroom?

As a parent, you know best when your child is struggling in the classroom. Many times, you can feel restless as you try to figure out how best to help. Putting a strategy in place at the beginning of the year is a great way to address problems before they arise. It will also establish an effective line of communication between you and the educator. One tool that can be used to ensure you stay involved throughout the year with your child’s literacy development is TAG You’re It! (Yearlong Parent Engagement Initiative). It’s always proactive to ask your child’s teacher if the classroom has already implemented this program or a program similar to it.


4. Is there technology needed to support self-directed learning in the home?

Many times, children can start falling behind in the classroom because they don’t have the necessary technological support in the home. Whether you have to take children to a library or invest in a new laptop, providing children with the tools they need to further learning concepts from the classroom is important not only for academic success, but also for fostering digital literacy as young children grow in the 21st century. Here are some of our favorite pieces of technology for the home:


 5. What academic standards do you use and what do I need to know about them as a parent?

Understanding the agenda and the academic standards of the classroom is key to supporting them at home. It will also help you understand what areas your child may be struggling in so that you can implement strategies to focus on those skills outside of the classroom. Whether it’s phonics or math, we have learning tools to support additional learning in your children to bring them up to speed:

We hope your kids are having a great first week back to school! Let us know what questions you always ask educators during the first week back by commenting below or on our Facebook page.


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