Spring into Outdoor Learning! 

The moment we have all been waiting for is finally here – the days are longer, warmer, and the outdoors no longer seem as treacherous and frigid as they once did. It’s a refreshing time of year – the grass is growing, and Easter is around the corner. Birds are chirping, snow is finally melting, everything seems fresh and new. The rainboots and rainbows are in full swing, the flowers are getting ready to bloom – it’s springtime. Get those raincoats ready and take an adventure outside – let’s spring into outdoor learning! 

Learning and playing are not mutually exclusive; they go together better than peanut butter and jam. The outdoors is like a blank canvas when it comes to exploring and learning – the possibilities are never ending! Getting in touch with nature is a wonderful way for children to have new experiences and touch, feel and learn all about new things in new weather. A change of seasons is a great excuse to get off the screens and get into the sunshine – and it’s even more fun with planned activities and games that can go along with it!  

The outdoors is like a blank canvas when it comes to exploring and learning – the possibilities are never ending!

What are the benefits of outdoor learning after a season change?  

Going outside reduces stress, boosts energy, and improves your immune system. After long, frigid winters and months of indoor recess and playtime, chances are children haven’t been playing outside lately as much as they usually do in the warmer months like July and August. Colder weather often discourages us from being active and watching TV and playing inside is an easy substitute for play during the cold winter days. This makes outdoor play in the spring even more important to make up for all those freezing days and hours of play that were missed out on being stuck inside!  

Children becoming familiar with the outdoors helps increase their physical health, helps boost self-esteem, social communication skills. It creates a positive sense of personal responsibility and awareness, as nature helps people of all ages become more in touch with themselves and identity. Being outside has been proven to increase happiness, attention, and help the body work better overall. Making an effort to get outside and be active can even help bring new and fresh ideas to your brain, and additionally helps cut back on screen time. Plus, who doesn’t love some sunshine and Vitamin C? 

six young children playing outside with sidewalk chalk

Making an effort to get outside and be active can even help bring new and fresh ideas to your brain, and additionally helps cut back on screen time.

What are some fun activities to do outside in the spring?

Sidewalk chalk. Sidewalk chalk is an easy favourite for kids of all ages – and adults too! Encourage kids to make a picture of something specific or allow them to create whatever their heart desires! Chalk can be used for so many things when it comes to outdoor play. Outdoor giant chalkboard flowers are weather resistant and a creative place to colour and draw with chalk. For a fun challenge, assign partners with sidewalk chalk and ask one person to draw and outline, and the other person adds on. The two partners can alternate adding onto the design. Another fun game to play with sidewalk chalk is hopscotch! Bonus tip: adding paint to the chalk can help make it a brighter and create stronger colours.  

Jump rope. Cardio meets fun when it comes to this classic game! It helps develop coordination and balance! Grab a jump rope and get outside to burn off some steam. It helps get the jitters out and exercise at the same time. This kind of movement is great for children’s health and helps them clear their mind and improve energy levels. Set a good example and jump rope along with the children! 

Blow bubbles. The giggles never go away! Blowing bubbles outside is a whimsical and playful activity that even adults can enjoy with familiarity and nostalgia. It is a super fun and relaxing way to spend some time outside. It’s simple, it never gets old and it’s super easy! 

a young girl blowing bubbles outside

Play with toys and wash them outside. Kids love to play outside with trucks and many various other types of fun toys. Sometimes they can get dirty. When children play outside, they often get their toys full of mud, especially after a rainstorm, since these play spaces are often wet and muddy. Teach them how to wash them down their toys with a bucket of water and soap. This helps instill care and teaches children how to take pride in looking after their toys! 

Painting eggs. Painting Easter eggs is a spring signature and well enjoyed by everyone. It doesn’t get more classic spring time than colourful Easter eggs! This is a great opportunity for children to practice hand eye coordination. For more precise and better finger muscle control, using a medicine dropper with paint can help little ones make their dream works of art come true. No craft would be complete without some glitter!  

Jump in a puddle. Put those rainboots to the test! After a rainstorm, let children experience the magic of stomping and making a loud splash. It is a rite of passage for kids and a moment they will always remember! Getting messy and dirty is a great experience for children and helps them feel free. Children are very curious creatures, and it is an important part of early development to allow them to have these very tangible memories and discoveries.  

Host an outdoor tea party. Introduce children to a fun and exciting lunch time with a pretend tea party! Send invitations to the “party” and suggest the children dress up for the occasion. This is an enjoyable way to teach children about how to get ready for events and a great way to make outdoor lunch more enjoyable. Pull out some small tables, chairs or benches and serve some cookies or cake. If the children aren’t fans of the tea, don’t worry! Substitute the tea with lemonade or water infused with fruit. 

Fly a kite. Take a walk outside and learn to fly a kite! It is a great way to teach children a new skill. It helps them get outside, learn more about hand-eye coordination, gross motor skills, and encourages them to run around! Demonstrate how to fly the kite and then allow the children to follow and attempt to do it on their own. This is an amazing example of teaching them how to follow instructions and invokes them to have stronger peripheral awareness. 

two young boys flying a kite

Outdoor workout. Use this fresh spring air to get some great exercise! Taking a walk is a great way to encourage children to move and be active and use this to help put in their head the routine of getting out of the house and centre. Going on walks and other various outdoor activity is also a positive way for children to connect with their friends. 

Fairy garden. Adding a fairy garden to the outside of your centre is perfect for little ones that have a passion for all things fairies and magic. Decorate planters or flowerpots with small figurines or story sensory stones and create a beautiful scenery spot. 

What are some fun outdoor spring games and sports?  

Create spring nature art. Take a piece of construction paper and get some glue and allow children to collect and glue down different pieces of nature to a piece of construction paper – flowers, leaves, sticks and create a beautiful and creative picture filled with natural art! This can be an awesome introduction to identifying and learning about nature. Use this opportunity to teach children about the different types of trees, leaves, insects and flowers! Encourage them to label   

Toss a ball. It can be anywhere – in a field, in the backyard. Throw the ball back in forth, kick it, or toss it. To make things a little more interesting, pick up a sport! It can be volleyball, soccer, soccer, dodgeball – anything that gets kids outside and active! There are really no limits – you can play whatever you want! Let children’s imagination run wild by letting them make up their own games. 

two soccer balls, two basketballs, two volleyballs and two footballs

Scavenger Hunt. Help kids learn with reading and finding things! Hide things around the yard and write on a checklist and encourage them to help find it! This can be a great way to start teaching early reading skills. Some things you can ask children to find could include dandelions, birds, rabbits, trees, insects, and other small things in nature. They will have a blast looking to identify and find these parts of nature, and it is way for them to learn how to use checklists and look for clues! 

Parachute games. There are many games you can play with a rainbow parachute! There are endless activities to play when it comes to parachute’s that you can read about in the book, 3-2-1: Time for Parachute Fun. Every child looks forward to parachute day in gym class, so incorporating parachute time in your centre is a special and valuable time that children will always have a blast with. Add the parachute accessory pack and you’ll have everything you need for many days and hours of fun outside spring play! 

a group of children playing outside with  a large rainbow parachute

What are some must have things to do to encourage outdoor learning in your centre in the spring? 

Smell the flowers. Teaching children about the five senses can come to life in the spring, making hands-on learning the easiest it can be. Ask children to analyze and identify the signs of spring, and question about what they are noticing. What can they smell? What can they hear? This is a great way to help teach them about the world around them and start to introduce them to nature science! 

a small young girl outside smelling flowers

Read a book outside. Upgrade usual reading time by sitting outside on a spring day! This could be reading to the kids, or the kids’ reading to themselves. One suggestion would be to read the All About Plants Series, a series focused on flowers, leaves, roots, seeds and stems. It features introductory vocabulary and gorgeous photographs about how diverse plants can be. Other activities usually done at desks like painting, colouring or crafting could also be done outside to soak up the season! 

Start a compost. There isn’t a better time to start a compost bin than the springtime. It is an amazing way to eliminate food waste while focusing on being environmentally friendly at the same time. Use a See Through Compost Container so that children can witness firsthand the magic of decomposition.  It is a great opportunity to eliminate waste in your centre and teach children about the importance of recycling!  

Have lunch or snack time outside. Looking to add some sun into lunchtime? Bring it outside! All you really need is a blanket and safe area to sit and enjoy lunchtime, having an outdoor bench is an even bigger bonus. Add juice boxes for a quick and shareable beverage! 

Take it easy. Soak up the sun and enjoy the warm weather. Sometimes the best thing for imagination, creativity and learning can be allowing it to unfold naturally. Let kids create their own world full of dramatic play and whatever their mind takes them too! Make having fun and being active a priority, and the learning is sure to follow.  

two young boys reading books outside and smiling

Are spring outdoor games and activities essential for learning in childcare centres? 

Not only is playing outdoors great for playing and exploring the world, it is also a valuable time for learning. Early development can set the tone for a child’s early years, and their brains are so busy learning and absorbing what the world is, and becoming familiar with nature, outdoor play, and the seasons changing. It helps encourage imagination and bonding between peers, and it creates valuable memories that children will always cherish.   

Outdoor learning is about introducing children to old and new adventures and assisting them with connections to make the most of playing in nature. It’s even more important when the seasons change to help expose children to the new season, new experiences and new activities and help them remember these activities and lessons to apply them to their own lives. It is so important for mental and physical health to get outside when the weather changes, specifically when it starts to warm up. Outdoor play is so beneficial; it helps children make discoveries and help them identify and familiarize themselves with the changing seasons, different parts of the year, and the exciting and new world around them! 

young boy blowing dandelion

Outdoor learning helps encourage imagination and bonding between peers, and it creates valuable memories that children will always cherish.   

Efficient Organization Tips to Help Organize Your Space 

In need of inspiration for making the most of your space when it comes to organization, storage, and décor? Looking to feel inspired and refreshed with the right storage solutions for you? This blog post has you covered!  

We have all had our fair share of struggling with organization. Feeling overwhelmed, tired, and staring at a pile of stuff, not knowing what to do and how to fix it is a problem we are all familiar with no matter the profession. However, teachers have the unique and additional responsibility of having to organize and look after a whole classroom. This means not only organizing your own space, but your workspace, and the learning space of an entire group of children. You want to find the perfect solution for a practical, neat and tidy space, and you want it to fit your learning style. It’s important to feel balanced, productive, and utilize your classroom.  

seven young kids in a classroom smiling

It’s important to feel balanced, productive, and utilize your classroom. ” 

What are some classroom products to keep you organized? 

When it comes to classroom organization, practicality is key. A space that can be flexible and allows easy access to all the tools you need. Whether it’s paper, pens, books, and folders, you don’t want to be wasting time looking through countless drawers. 

Storex’s products are a fantastic fix. Storex is known for their high quality and fun variety of storage solutions. Coming in tons of different colours, shapes, and styles, Storex is sure to have the right storage solution for you. With many options for different sized solutions no matter is they are small items or big items, there is something out there that suits your needs! The small book bin is perfect for small, thin, notebooks or journals, and the Large Book Bin is great for larger supplies like binders, paint, or scissors. The Blue Stretch Pencil case is incredible for pens, pencils, pencil crayons, erasers and sharpeners. It’s the perfect addition for any desk! 

The Storage Rack with 12 Clear Cubby Bins is another great storage tool. Ideal for toys, crafts, or art supplies! With twelve racks, there is lots of space to hold supplies, and with its clear appearance you can see through the shelves! No more guessing when it comes to storage, you can see before you even open the bins. Plus, it comes with rounded edges on the bins which make it safer for little hands. The cubby bins are made from a sturdy and drop resistant plastic. 

Need a place to put your papers while grading them? In need of something quick and easy to help with sorting? The Quick Stack Literature Sorter is the perfect fix. It features six compartments and comes in a classic black colour, and it snaps together with no tools required. It is sturdy enough to hold 500 sheets of letter sized paper, and comes in a multicoloured version if bright colours are what you prefer!    

a six shelved multi-coloured paper sorter

How to decorate your space the best way: 

Sometimes a room needs a little TLC to feel like home. You want yourself and the kids to feel comfortable in their learning environment and decorating the space can be a fantastic solution. Decorating and organizing can go hand in hand! Adding encouraging posters, great organization shelves, and fun rugs can really brighten up the environment. 

Adding colour. You want a vibrant, inspirational and eye-catching colour scheme without being overwhelming and distracting. You also want this theme to be something you really enjoy, since you will spend a lot of time surrounded by it.   

Make it practical. Don’t overdo it. You want to have a clean space that is neither overwhelming nor distracting as a learning environment. Every student has different needs, and some may struggle more with clutter than others. It’s important to keep things accessible to everyone!    

Showcase your student’s work! The bare walls in your classroom are the perfect canvas for all the beautiful and fun artwork. Arrange a bulletin board that can easily be changed out when projects come and go! It is an easy way to add colour, fun, and store all your art at the same time!  

Health and Safety posters. In uncertain times, little ones and adults alike can use reminders when it comes to distancing and proper sanitary measures. Washing hands and having classroom reminders promoting good hygiene is always good to keep in mind.  

Stick with the seasons. Is a fun holiday coming up? Use this as an opportunity to refresh! We all get bored with looking at the same stuff repeatedly, so when a holiday comes up, don’t be afraid to add some colour and spice to your classroom. Even small things like adding to your bulletin board, or hanging up fun pictures or posters, it creates excitement for students and teachers alike! 

a teacher helping a young girl with her school work at a desk

Efficient organization tips for a clean space: 

Figure out what’s eating your time. Spending too much time procrastinating or redoing the same corner repeatedly? Make a note of what keeps you behind. Set timers to help ensure you stay on track and record how long it takes to organize certain spaces. 

Establish a routine for the necessities. Having a place for all your papers is one thing, but it is another to have a routine to help sort through them. Once you hand your lesson out, have a safe place to put it afterwards, and after they are graded, etc. Once these papers all have a proper place and life cycle, the days of misplacing papers are over!  

Labelling. The days of questioning where things belong are over! Ensure all baskets, buckets, binders, and shelves are all properly labeled. This will save you lots of headache and time in the future! 

Make copies of your checklist. At the beginning of the year, print off multiple copies of the cleaning checklist you plan to make. Each week, or whatever time permits, go through the list to ensure everything is neat and tidy! Checklists can help ease anxiety and provide a sense of accomplishment, so it is a win-win. 

Make sure the environment will maximize learning. The last thing you want is your new décor and furniture is for it to cause distraction with your students. You want to create an environment that maximizes learning and minimizes behaviour problems. Not sure how the kids in your classroom feel about your organization system? Ask them! Don’t forget, with so many students and only one of you, it’s important to make sure the system you are using works for them too. That way, they are more likely to stick to it!   

Have a monthly folder. Need to stay fresh and on top of things that are recent? Have a folder dedicated to each month, day by day!  It makes it easier to find things when you need to back track, and it can help the overwhelming number of tasks that have seemingly piled up feel less daunting since they are broken down day by day. 

“With the right products and time management skills, you should be feeling calm, cool and collected – and organized – in no time!”

multi-coloured book bins on a bookshelf in a classroom

What are some tips for saving time, energy and reducing stress in the classroom?  

  • Declutter your email. An overwhelming number of emails can make you feel out of control and difficult to catch up on. Putting an effort into keeping your inbox clean can help give you a more clear, organized state of mind.  
  • Don’t hide the important stuff. Have certain papers that you seem to constantly be looking for, like report cards or field trip permission slips? Find a spot dedicated to them. Some people use a specific drawer or pin a folder to their bulletin board. Whatever you choose, make sure you save some space for the important stuff! 
  • Group similar tasks together. When organizing your checklists, group tasks that take the same amount of time or have similarities so you can finish them around the same time! 
  • Let technology be on your side. Send yourself reminders, turn off notifications, don’t let it be a distraction, let it help you! 
  • Don’t forget to stretch! It helps release emotional and physical tension. 
  • Get a good night sleep. It will help you feel refreshed, productive, and organized the next day. 
  • Stay as prepared as possible. Print off extras of your lessons, quizzes, tests, or any printable just in case you need them! 
  • Try to stay on top of mess! Clean up as you go when it comes to projects and experiments in the classroom. Before you start something new, ensure the previous mess has already been tidied up to cut down on clean-up time.  

Having so many responsibilities as a teacher can no doubt be stressful. Having an organized, clean, and tidy space should help you feel balanced and in in control. If you stay on top of the mess, dedicate some time and space for the right tools, and maximize the organization of your space, your classroom is sure to be at its very best. With the right products and time management skills, you should be feeling calm, cool and collected – and organized – in no time!  

a smiling teacher helping a young female student

Dress Up and Dramatic Play

Dress up and dramatic play is one of the most important and common parts of growing up, and a very important part of childhood. Watching young children play is like magic – the smiles, the fun, the laughter the creative ideas. Children from almost any age, any gender, any background and with any interests can remain occupied for hours through dress up and dramatic play. No matter what storyline they are acting out, they are creating meaningful interactions with each other and themselves that help them learn more about the world around them. Which might make you ask the question, how exactly does dressing up and dramatic play benefit learning, and why is it so important? 

Children get to express themselves, learn more about their identity, and become more confident. 

Children get to be themselves in a whole new way and indulge in a world of imagination. Children get to express themselves, learn more about their identity, and become more confident. Research shows that dramatic play is one of the most important forms of learning. It is linked to language development, positive social skills, problem solving skills, and thinking creatively. Dress up and dramatic play helps children imitate the world around them, making them form connections to other people. For example, when children are pretending to talk on the phone, it proves they are translating that they understand this concept and have demonstrated how to use it in their own lives. A great product for this would be My First Phone, which features a magnifying glass and a colourful dial pad encourage interactive play and help develop dexterity and cognitive skills. 

Two young kids playing pretend with phones

Learn Through Play

Learn while having fun! Children learn a variety of skills through dress up and dramatic play, such as: 

  • It helps children be creative. Children will take any kind of costume and make it into their own invention. It could be creating a completely new character or turning a tutu into a cape; whatever it is, it is helping children imagine and create without feeling like a chore. It helps open their minds to new possibilities!  

  • It can last for hours. Dramatic play is a great way to keep kids entertained. It is also extremely versatile as far as age groups go, as kids as young as toddlers up until around the preteen ages can engage in dramatic play.  

  • Independence. Young children learn how to dress themselves, create positive social interactions with friends, and take turns sharing and playing together. This helps children become confident in doing things by themselves, helping them gain independence and a sense of pride in themselves. It helps give them the confidence they need to handle more tasks in their day to day lives by themselves!  

  • Language and motor skills. Through interacting with their peers, using play objects and creating dramatic scenes, children are developing their vocabulary and playing with their hands simultaneously. They are essentially learning about the world around them through new words, new objects, new stories, and putting them all together at once! It’s incredible what their little minds absorb and retain.  

  • Social skills and friendships. These types of play help social interactions in a way that more traditional and structured ways of learning cannot. They help children learn to share toys, ask for favours, and form a sense of community. Sharing items with other classmates is an important lesson when it comes to early childhood development, and there is no shortage of sharing lessons learned when it comes to learning through play.  

Two young girls play pretend with stickers on their face

Teach Dress Up Play

Teachers don’t need to be involved much in dramatic play, as its main purpose is to help children learn real life skills individually and without assistance. However, if you do want to utilize the opportunities when it comes to learning through play, here are some tips to help your students get the most out of their dramatic and dress up play.  

  • Ask questions. Asking the children questions about the roles they are playing, the activities they are doing and what scenario they have created. If they play seems repetitive and simple, encourage them with new ideas and suggestions. 

  • Observe. Watch the children and see what kinds of pretend play they are acting as. Are they imitating people in their personal life? Or characters they see in movies/television shows? Superhero’s? This a great way to learn about their interests and have an idea on what kind of things they are observing themselves, as it reflects in their play.  

  • Don’t overstay your welcome. Students rely on hands on learning and this needs to be facilitated to a degree on their own. Getting overly involved can slow down this process and hinder their creativity. Learn the boundaries when it comes to play, and when to let the imagination take flight by themselves! 

  • Make sure no student gets left behind. Students who may have social anxiety or feel uncomfortable about playing with other students might be hesitant to put themselves out there. If you see a child by themselves, help integrate them by inviting them to play along. Students can be sensitive to new groups of classmates or may be feeling anxious in their abilities. Help assure them they are welcomed and an important part of the group. Sometimes, they just need a little push to help them warm up to their environment! 

  • Allow them to express different gender roles. Dress up and pretend play is often about focusing on children finding a sense of identity, so it is very common for them to play pretend with different roles, both masculine and feminine. They are discovering who they are, so encourage and allow that expression instead of enforcing specific gender roles on them.  

  • Remember, there are no rules in dramatic play. Dramatic and dress up play is a place for kids to interact with each other, their own world and identity, and this may look differently than what you expected or anticipated. Unless they are being harmful or obscene to one another, allow them to play however they would like – even if it doesn’t make sense or follow a specific idea of what you had in mind. Let their imagination run wild! 

Young girl plays dress up with pink crown

Play Area Set-Up

Dress up and dramatic play is an important part of development, as it helps children develop crucial life skills like language, creativity, independence and motor skills. Setting your classroom up for success may seem like a challenge, but with the right storage spaces, the right play area and the right accessories to accentuate dress up and dramatic play, children will have a blast playing amongst their peers and creating new scenarios in no time! 

Some suggestions would be the Rotating Dress Up Storage that features mirrors and compartments to put away their various dress up items and objects. The mirrors are great for dress up play so children can see exactly what kind of character look they have put together! The Multipurpose Storage Combination is another great option that features 20 mobile trays to store all your smaller dramatic and dress up play items. These kinds of storage compartments make it easy for children to grab what they would like to use and remember where they found it, so they can return it when they are finished using it.      

Children need an open play space that enables them to grow and learn. It should be safe, open, and can be organized. Helping children clean up after play is a great way to instill responsibility and ensure they don’t lose their favourite dress up and dramatic play items. So, you now know the benefits and reasons as to why pretend and dramatic play is a key role in early development, but you still aren’t sure how to plan and execute your space into the perfect setting to let little imaginations run wild. Take into consideration the age and interests of your students, the dimensions of your space, and how you plan on organizing your play items. Here are some simple steps to help create your dream play space: 

  • Step 1: Brainstorm what type of dramatic play area you want to have, with the pace you already have. Think of a theme or cohesive layout you anticipate the children using. An example of an ideal play space is a kitchen themed play area. It is a very popular idea for children, as it is versatile and has many different creative scenarios that can be used for dramatic play. Another fun spot for dramatic play could include a laundry centre. Kids love to mimic what they see in the real world and in their personal lives at home!  

  • Step 2: Plan the larger items, such as furniture and seating arrangements. Make sure the space is right for the appropriate age group. If you are teaching to young students such as kindergarten to grade 2, you need to create a space that is accessible to reach and play, filled with items that would peak their interests. Making this space easy for them to use, filled with age-appropriate toys, and setting a scene that allows dramatic play to flourish! 
  • Step 3: Adding small additional items and accessories such as play fooddolls, and kitchen supplies to help make this dramatic play area complete! Think about what kind of items would best fit with the theme of your play area, and how children could incorporate them with their dress up and dramatic play. You can never have too many items to encourage learning through play!  

Dramatic Play Accessories

  • Role Play Set can be a fun way for kids to engage in pretend play. It is creative and a fun way to get children involved in imaginary play. Watch children act out scenes as different titles such as doctor, fireman, scientist, and astronaut. This type of dress up play encourages children to dream big and learn more about their world! 

  • Dress-Up Tutu’s are a great tool for dramatic play. Children often use them in different ways than they are intended for, improving their creative skills and keeping them thinking outside the box. Children love to imitate ballerinas and other various styles of dance, encouraging them to be active!  

  • Action Hats are a go-to for dramatic play, as they are quick, simple and can be used for all kids and all types of play! 

  • Capes are an easy, functionable item to have with dress up play. Children can use capes and turn them into anything, to fit any story or play scenario. Children are fascinated by pretend magicians and magic shows! 

  •  A chef costume is a must-have for kitchen dramatic play! Children love to pretend they are creating their own bakery and restaurant scene, interacting with customers and pretend cooking.  

  • Play food is a perfect addition to dramatic play, especially for a kitchen set up. The fresh picked fruit and veggie tote is also a fun tool, with an assortment of seventeen colourful fruits and vegetables to choose from. Perfect for pretend play cooking and baking! 

  • Dolls are a fun toy for children to play with and are very popular. Children imitate being a parental figure with the doll and participate in things such as pretending to feed the doll, cradle it and change its clothing. It helps teach empathy and responsibility!  

Young child plays pretend with doll

Learning through play is a unique experience for every individual child and student, and each play scenario and storyline are different, which is what makes it so magical. It is so important to give students time to explore these types of play not only as it helps them in so many aspects of their life, but it also helps to create an inclusive community with bright and creative thinkers and provides children with an exciting and fun time in the classroom they get to look forward to. Dress up and dramatic play is one of the best tools for learning because children never get bored, and the opportunities are endless.    

How to Choose the Seat that’s Just Right

This one is too small; this one is too big – so how do you find the seating that’s just right?  

For little ones and grownups alike, uncomfortable seating can be unfortunate, especially when you need to sit for prolonged periods of time. It is important to find that spot that’s just right – the right amount of wiggle room, the perfect height, and the best position for learning. 

So, how do I find the perfect match when it comes to seating

Let’s talk about the basics! 

What seat height is a good match? It depends heavily on the height, weight, and age of the child, but what is equally important is the height of the table. It is also important to keep in mind smaller children like toddlers require less room than older children. We recommend leaving 7-8” of room between the seat height and the table height. We have a chart that is featured below for reference! 

What kind of chair options will work best for me? The ideal look and comfort level are preferences that differ for everyone! Wood chairs and plastic chairs are both great options that feature easy to clean material. Warranty is something to investigate as well, as a 5 to 10-year warranty can provide ease and comfort when your furniture being used by energetic little ones! 

How do I make sure the seat is a comfortable fit? We recommend that the child’s legs can sit comfortably at a 90-degree angle. If stuck between too similar sizes, it is always best to size up to allow for growing room! 

Popular Options: 

Firstly, the Berries by Jonti-Craft are a great option. They are easy to stack, easy to clean and feature chrome or painted legs that look stylish and functionable. They also have tables available to complement each seat height, so they perfectly match. Coming fully assembled, they are an easy, practical, and cute option for childcare centres. These chairs also come in multiple seat height available, from 10”, 12”, 14”, 16” and 18”. Bonus points: Jonti Craft also carries them in seven colours, including navy, red, key lime green, coastal blue, camel, blue and green.  

Jonti- Craft also carries in a wooden highchair version called Charries! These are super convenient for lunch time, featuring BPA- free plastic trays to prevent spilling! they are super easy to clean and made from stain resistant materials. They also come with easy adjustable seat belts, perfect for fast growing little ones!  

Another popular option includes the Value Stack Chair. Simple, durable, and light, featuring fun and bright colours, they are sure to brighten up any room. They are easy to stack and feature protective bottom legs that help prevent sliding and reduce noise, which makes it perfect for larger groups of kids. With five stylish colours to choose from – red, blue, green, cocoa and beige, you are sure to find the right match for your centre! Seat heights are available in 5”, 7”, 9”, 11”, and 13”. 

Finally, we have the classic Classroom Chair. These chairs are very popular and essentially a staple in classrooms everywhere. With different colours but an oh-so recognizable design, these stacking chairs are superior in quality and durability. The chair’s frame and legs are made of heavy gauge steel, and the legs are tapered and have swivel guides with nylon bases to offer protection for the floors. They are also featured in multiple different colours; purple, red, blueberry, forest green, navy, and chocolate, and heights in 10”, 12”, 14”, 16” and 18”. 

Shopping for new chairs is exciting, but we know changing up your centre can be very time consuming and overwhelming at times. We hope this has helped to guide you in the right direction and gave you a better idea of what to look for when shopping for chairs. Stay tuned for more informative tips and blog posts!  

Engaging in STEAM Play with Loose Parts 

As a young kid, learning can be complicated. Whether you are in day care, kindergarten, or even all grown up, learning can be frustrating, especially when you are focused on topics that aren’t interesting or don’t seem relevant to you. Studying can feel like a chore, and forcing kids to focus on learning instead of play can make it hard to keep their interest. That’s what makes play-based STEAM learning so great! 

STEAM stands for science, technology, engineering, the arts and mathematics. It combines all forms of learning into one and creates experiences for students that remind them of the real world and helps give learning a sense of purpose. STEAM connects play and learning and relates it to their own little world, making it easier for students to form connections both inside and outside the classroom. 

So how does STEAM play benefit learning? 

  • Confidence. STEAM projects encourage kids to problem solve, which creates a sense of accomplishment and pride when they succeed. Working through these problems to come to a solution help children feel more confident in their abilities and more independent. 
  • Teamwork. STEAM learning that requires communication with peers can help form relationships and social skills simultaneously. Working through problems and projects together promotes leadership and cooperation!  
  • Creativity. The solution of projects often come from thinking outside the box and can help inspire kids to think of new ideas, and support imagination and original ideas to run wild!      
  • Problem solving. STEAM makes figuring out problems fun and provides kids with a new skill. Teaching young ones about trial and error provides a new set of skills. They learn to keep trying, experimenting, and never giving up!   

So how can you engage little ones in STEAM play and what are “loose parts”? 

STEAM play with loose parts includes any material that can be combined, sorted, moved, taken apart and put back together, and when it comes to loose parts, the possibilities are endless. Loose parts are anything hands-on that can be used to learn while playing, like our rainbow wooden super set. This wooden set can be used to stack, assemble or even play pretend! With bowls, cubes, discs and more, small parts make it simple for imaginations to run wild with lots of creativity and enjoyment simultaneously.  They enhance fine motor skills and can be used for games, exploration and so much more. These small toys can make a huge difference in early development. The simplicity of loose parts can build and create so many things and keep minds engaged for hours, teaching kids that the sky’s the limit. 

STEAM play with loose parts doesn’t have to be elaborate, since it as all about bringing back the basics, and encouraging straightforward and creative playtime. The eco magnetic polydron is a great introduction to STEAM play, as it has many magnetic shapes that can create 2D and 3D shapes. Children learn as they form pieces together and watch them stick, educating them about magnetic force, patterns, and structure. It is a very hands-on tool, and with 72 pieces, the whole group can enjoy together.  

Through creating art, learning about technology, exploring engineering, adding and subtracting parts like mathematics, and examining scientific causes, STEAM play with loose parts can turn play time into learning while keeping kids entertained and invested. STEAM challenges little minds to analyse, design, and examine the world around them, while doing what they love most – playing! 

Classes Are Heading Outside and So Are These Products!

Spring is just around the corner and we are so excited that we just can’t hide it! The arrival of spring means we can finally welcome the beginning of warmer weather and longer days. We have all been searching and brainstorming for new ways to safely teach during the pandemic and this feels like the perfect opportunity to enjoy some time teaching outside. 

Bringing classes outside will be a new adventure for those that haven’t done it before. There are some great benefits to teaching outdoors. If you have heard the saying “fresh air is good for the soul” at one time or another, there is a reason for it. There have been studies done that explain the science behind that age-old saying, from an increase in the ability to concentre to feeling overall happier, fresh air really does us good! Being able to follow social-distancing practices in this Covid-19 world is just one more benefit to taking classes outside.  

Outdoor learning may also bring some hurdles that will need to be overcome, many of which we will learn about as we go. One problem that I anticipate is finding products around your classroom that can withstand the travel to and from, as well as the changes in atmosphere or difference in terrain. If you are lucky enough to be able to repurpose and reimagine products that you already have, that is a great place to start! By taking an item that is already available to you, maybe a Wood Stepping Stump Set, and using it as flexible seating for your class is a perfect example of reimagining a product. 

Educational resources like an Outdoor/Indoor Learning Centre are a wonderful tool to keep in your room. You can load it up with all the supplies you need to bring with you and it comes with a whiteboard, which is ideal for teaching lessons outside. The large wheels and handles make it easy to push over all sorts of terrain. For a miniature version, we have a Magnetic Tabletop Easel that can be used for one-on-one instruction or by individual students.   

While you are teaching, your students will need a place to sit and take notes. One of our favourite products is The Surf! This on-the-go work surface ensures you have a desk for your laptop or notebook wherever you need it. Both a seat and a surface, The Surf lets you work comfortably outdoors. For another option, our green or yellow sturdy plastic clipboards make writing outdoors easier to use while sitting on a durable Tatami Mat

If your class is ready for some free play fun, our Nature to Play line has everything you need – and then some more! There are many different options to choose from, one of our favourites includes the Water Table. Fill the two large basins and unlock endless hours of outdoor sensory explorations. From water and sand to shaving cream and slime, this table’s large work surface encourages messy, collaborative play and social interactions.  

Another popular choice is our Mud Kitchen, where children can inspire their growing imaginations by baking a mud pie or mixing up some leaf soup! Use the Mud Kitchen’s large work surface and sink with a removable plug to incorporate messy materials such as mud, sand, and water into collaborative outdoor play. For more fun, store mud tools, buckets, and Nature to Play Crates on the convenient bottom shelf.  

We hope that this inspires all of our wonderful teachers to take on the challenge of outdoor learning. We would love to hear how you take your classes outside!