The Importance of Reduce, Reuse, Recycle 

It is no surprise that children hold the key to the future; their generation consists of our future leaders, teachers, parents, and so much more. Learning to take care of the earth is a significant part of development and educating little ones about their personal responsibility to reduce, reuse and recycle. It puts them in the mindset to minimize their carbon footprint for the rest of their lives. Starting early by teaching children how to be environmentally friendly can have a very positive affect on their habits, and sustainability can become a natural and unconscious part of their decision making. 

Creating a better environment starts with our youth, and it starts in the classroom. There are lots of tips and lessons that can be taught to encourage and educate children of the importance of going green, and fun interactive activities that can make learning easy and memorable!

How to Reduce, Reuse and Recycle: 

Reduce:  

Purchase eco-friendly toys. PlanToys offers incredibly high-quality eco-friendly toys made of wood that offers a natural feel. These toys enhance development and allow children to experience play in a unique way that are not only adorable and fun, but also sustainable. The Dentist Set is a creative way to teach children about tooth care while simultaneously being made of super eco-friendly and sustainable material. There are so many different unique play experiences Plan Toy’s products have to offer, like the Bread Loaf Set where children get to pretend to be a baker, or the Tool Belt Set where children can practice fixing and creating things at the touch of their attached belt featuring a hammer, wrench, screwdriver, and level.       

children's play toolbelt

Do I really NEED it? Remind children that before they make a purchase, ask themselves if this item is a necessity, or something that can be left on the shelf. Use what you have at home first and think about ways to repurpose what you already own before purchasing new things. Don’t fall for “Buy One Get One Free” bargains if you don’t plan on using the second item. Taking a moment to really evaluate if the item is something you need can help save money and time – and help save items from becoming lost in landfills without a purpose. 

Limit waste. Food waste specifically is an incredibly common problem, not only for the food itself being wasted, but also the additional packing it comes with, such as extra and unnecessary plastic bags. Have an important conversation about brainstorming different ways we can all limit waste – at home, at school, and on the go. 

Here are some tips and ideas to mention for saving and reusing: 

  • Use reusable bags and lunch containers. 
  • Buy refillable cleaning products like hand sanitizer and soap. 
  • Freeze products that go bad quickly like bread and avocados.  
  • Make banana bread out of browning bananas! 

Reuse: 

Reusable bags. Going to the grocery store and constantly taking disposable bags that are immediately thrown out is never good for the environment. Bring reusable ones. This is a habit to teach your class about – remind them that their backpacks are a perfect example of a way to use a bag repeatedly. 

Repurposing clothes. Their clothes can also be reused and repurposed, cut into cleaning cloths, blankets or any other various cloth household item.  They can continue to make new memories with their favourite clothes – just in new forms. 

Encourage donations. Teaching kids about reusing clothing, not only about thrift shopping for themselves, but also the importance of donating or handing down clothes when they no longer fit or desire them anymore. Chances are that most kids have grown out of some of their toys and clothing from their younger days. This is the perfect chance to give back! Explain the cycle of reusing and how shopping second hand at thrift stores can help benefit the community. 

Recycle: 

Composting. Composting is the natural process of organic material like food scraps or old plants breaking down and turning a nutrient rich soil that has plenty of uses. It cuts down significantly on trash in landfills and creates a healthy soil that can be used as fertilizer (and does not require pesticides). The See-Through Compost Container is a neat way to witness the entire decomposition process from the comfort of your own classroom. With three aerated compartments, you can see different materials as they decompose individually and make comparisons. 

young girl looking at compost

How to Educate the Importance of Going Green: 

Global warming and climate change can be an intimidating topic for children, so it is important to approach it with sensitivity and awareness. Nonetheless, they are important conversations to have, especially since children hold the key to the future and have years of habit and decision making in front of them. Here are some tips on how to educate children on the importance of making eco-friendly choices. 

Inspire environmental curiosity. Little ones usually do not understand more complex concepts like greenhouse gases, so it makes the most sense to start simple. Teach children to plant seeds and take note of their environment, pointing out the flowers, animals, and insects. This makes them appreciate nature – and leave them wanting to protect it in the future. Make sure children spend some valuable time outside playing in nature to help them feel connected to the reason our earth is so important to protect. The All About Plants Series is fantastic way to learn more about plants, leaves, flowers, and more beautiful things that exist in our ecosystem.  

Recognize and encourage small actions. Remind children of the impact they have. Teach them about how picking up litter, preventing litter by always putting their appropriate items in the garbage or recycling, and packing lunches with reusable containers are all vital steps in protecting our earth – and no step is too small. Do not let them think they cannot make a difference – they can!  

three kids throwing water bottles into the recycling

 What are fun activities to teach the importance of sustainability?  

  • Recycling or Garbage? In this fun and simple sorting game, you can teach kids what goes in the recycling and what goes in the garbage with visual handmade cards! Cut out various recyclable and non-recyclable items from magazines and tape them onto card stock or thicker paper. Make some simple sorting boxes with signs on them and watch them place each item in either the recycling or garbage pile. After they choose each pile, you can discuss which items went in the right pile and which ones did not. It isa fantastic way to help children connect the dots and remember which items go in which bin when it is time to throw their things away.  
  • Recycle and paint! Making crafts is always a fun way to engage children in learning, and what better way to show an example of reusing things than painting. There are so many ways to use old items – old newspaper, single use plastic water bottles, corkscrews, egg cartons, the possibilities are endless! There are lots of fun eco-friendly crafts tools out there too, such as Wood Craft Rounds and the Natural Kraft Sheets.  
an eco-friendly paper package
  • Have a competition. Make recycling competitive. Challenge your fellow classes to see which class can fill up the most recycling in a month and celebrate with a pizza party afterwards! This helps give an incentive to remember to recycle, and who doesn’t love a friendly little competition? 
  • Read a book about recycling together. There are lots of important reads that help children understand the importance of recycling – such as the Planet Protector series, a non-fiction kid-friendly series of books all about fighting pollution, saving energy, reusing items, and not littering. The adorable and charismatic illustrations help make learning fun.  
  • Invite children to share about a way the reduced, reused, and recycled at home. Just like show and tell, ask children to name an example of how they implemented sustainable and eco-friendly habits in their own home. This helps them actively think of how they are making a difference individually and reminds them of the way they can influence habits that happen at home. It also challenges them to bring new and exciting ideas to the classroom and inspire friends and peers to do the same. 
  • Learn about the plant life cycle. With the Life Cycle of a Green Bean set, children get to watch a green bean seed germinate, develop roots and sprout. It is great for children to watch firsthand the life cycle of plants. It is an engaging way to learn with manipulatives that children can tangibly see the cycle of plant life. The Sprout and Grow Window offers a worm’s eye view of root growth. This transparent “nature’s window” allows gardeners of all ages to watch seeds sprout and grow into plants. It stands upright on a tabletop or windowsill, special potting soil nurtures seeds for optimum growth and comes with packets of bean and pea seeds. It also features a step-by-step guide with instructions, suggested activities, and journal pages to fill in as you follow the process from seed planting to full-grown plants. 
  • Pick up litter together. Spend some time outside cleaning up the playground to throw away litter. This gives children the opportunity to see recycling in real life, and becomes interactive, a way to remember and have an experience to reflect on it. It also acts as a way to help clean the surrounding areas and helps children see just how real littering and pollution can be. 
  • Inspire eco-friendly dramatic play. Children mimic what they learn in real life during dramatic play, so encouraging eco and nature friendly scenarios can help their imagination flourish. New Sprouts Grow It! Offers a garden full of imaginative play. Children can plant and grow flowers and veggies right before your eyes with gardening essentials including a watering can, shovel and 3 pots. It offers colourful mix-and-match flowers and veggies, encouraging role play and early vocabulary development while nurturing an appreciation for nature and simultaneously engaging in dramatic play. 
a young boy picking up litter

Tips for making recycling an important part of daily routine: 

  • Keep signs posted for directions and reminders to recycling cans and boxes. We could all use a reminder sometimes.  
  • Educate about hazardous materials. Items such as tires, paint, batteries, aerosol cans can be dangerous and should not be included with general waste products. 
  • Inspire conversation. Don’t stop talking about reducing, reusing, and recycling. Sharing new information, celebrating accomplishments in regards to picking up litter, using the right disposal method depending on the product, and being a strong leader in the fight against pollution all help put sustainability on your student’s radar. 
  • Keep plants around. Starting a garden outside can be a healthy environment for children to watch plants grow. A small greenhouse such as the Greenthumb Classroom Greenhouse is a fantastic place to start, since it features two sturdy wire shelves that keep potted plants off the ground, a clear vinyl cover that fits snugly over the metal frame and a large zippered opening to protect plants. 

Reduce our consumption, reuse our items, and always recycle – we hear these things all the time, but it’s important to remember to apply them to our own lives and encourage and inspire them in younger ones as well. With fun activities, positive reminders and unique games, you can help create a helpful learning experience that will cement recycling as a fundamental part of daily life and in the future. When we all work together, we can accomplish great things. By helping to work together, we can build a better, safer, cleaner world.        

two smiling children recycling together

The Weather Outside is Frightful, but Outdoor Play is so Delightful! 

As Canadians, we know the winter months tend to be a little colder (and longer) than we would like them to be. December, January, and February seem to drag into long, tiresome days that all blend together. Children get restless, parents get exhausted, and we are all waiting for those warm, light-hearted, and easy summer days to once again make their way back to us. 

However, winter doesn’t have to be so dreary, dull and boring. What if we decided to make the most out of the winter season and create a positive outdoor environment for our kids to play in? 

Outdoor play is an important part of early childhood development and living a healthy and happy lifestyle all around. Playing outdoors can help with both mental and physical health at all ages, so it is an important habit to instil in young children. The barrier between having fun and learning through play shouldn’t be cold weather, so here are some tips on how to make the most of outdoor play in the winter months. 

“Outdoor play is an important part of early childhood development and living a healthy and happy lifestyle all around.”

Being prepared for outdoor play: 

-Make sure you bundle warm. This seems self-explanatory, but it is none the less very important. Ensure that all little ones have the proper winter equipment like gloves or mittens, ski pants, toques, scarves and boots depending on the temperature. Make sure communication with parents is clear when organizing outdoor activities so that winter gear is sent daily. Try sending a reminder through email or newsletter or create posters to place around the entrances with reminders about the need for warm outdoor equipment. 

-Always check the weather. Some temperatures just aren’t safe for outdoor play, and sometimes winter can be sunny and warm and may not require as much outdoor gear as others. Oh, and don’t forget the wind chill!  

Read and learn about the fundamentals of play. Do some research, and find out what works for you and your kids. A good source of information is the Seasons of Play book! It comes with plenty of natural environment play inspiration and ideas for all four seasons, and a question-and-answer section at the back. It features lots of beautiful photography as well to really help get your mind picturing outdoor play!  

Remember safety comes first. Always use your best judgement to ensure the kids are safe, dressed appropriately, and having a blast! 

So, what kinds of outdoor play are good for the staying fit and healthy during the winter months?  

-Outdoor sports. When it comes to outdoor sports, the possibilities are endless. Any kind of games like winter soccer, sledding, or visit an outdoor skating rink. Anything that gets kids moving and encourages fitness outdoors counts!  

small child in winter gear playing on the playground in snow

-Going for a walk. There is nothing better than getting some fresh air, especially after being cooped up all day in a room. Going for walks has been proven to improve both mental and physical health, and during long, dark days with little sunlight and movement, this is especially important.  

Snow play. The possibilities are endless when it comes to snow play! From building forts, to sculpting snow men, to whatever their creative little hands can create. Provide kids with fun tools like buckets, mini shovels, mini rakes and watch their innovation come to life! It’s a classic, you really can’t go wrong with traditional snow play! 

-Let them get creative. Kids often don’t need guidance when it comes to play. They will have their own dramatic play scenarios ready before you know it! 

“Playing outside can help boost mood, mental health, and physical health.”

What are some fun activities and games for outdoor play? 

-Snow shovelling. Help teach kids how to shovel! Grab a shovel and show kids the ropes! This is a great and practical activity that kids can use to help at home whenever the snow falls!  

young child walking in the snow with a toy shovel and bucket

-Snow painting. Painting without the mess! Using spray bottles, fill up water with food colouring and let kids use it to spray in the snow. The best part: no clean up and it disappears completely on its own! 

-Polar Footprints. Using Let’s Investigate: Polar Footprints, allow children to make imprints in the snow. This is a great opportunity to teach them about wildlife that inherits the polar frozen landscape up north. Farmyard Footsteps or Let’s Investigate Woodland Footprints are also great options for learning about other types of animals! It’s educational, creative and fun!      

-Winter Scavenger Archaeologist Hunt. Burry various outdoor play items like Dinosaur Bones or Animal Friends under the snow and let kids dig them out to find it! They will love feeling like little archaeologists as they dig their way to find hidden treasure!  

“Getting fresh air and taking a break from the routine of learning indoors can encourage longer attention spans and help children feel refreshed and ready to take on new challenges.”

What are the Benefits of Playing Outdoors? 

Reducing the risk of catching a cold. Despite popular belief, playing outside in the winter is a fantastic way to help build kids build their natural immunity. The fresh air as opposed to recycled air in an enclosed space is much better for ventilation. Additionally, cold temperatures do not allow certain types of bacteria to survive minimizing the risk of catching an illness. 

Lowering the risk of developing childhood obesity. The winter months are notorious for eating lots of unhealthy foods and treats, which is great in moderation but can also lead to fatigue and weight gain. Outdoor winter play helps keep these things at bay and encourages movement, is great exercise and helps maintain a healthy life balance. 

Mental health benefits. Staying inside all day long is not healthy for anyone, especially children. Getting active outside helps boost mood, mental and physical stamina. Seasonal depression is prevalent at all ages, and children are no exception. Getting fresh air and exercise is extra important in the winter months!  

two kids smiling going sledding in the winter

Why is Outdoor Play so useful for Early Development? 

From mental and physical benefits to allowing children to be creative and have fun, outdoor play is an all-around important part of childhood growth. Playing outside can help boost mood, mental health, and physical health. Getting fresh air and taking a break from the routine of learning indoors can encourage longer attention spans and help children feel refreshed and ready to take on new challenges. It’s great for helping kids build connections with other kids and working as a team. Maybe those winter blues aren’t so bad after all!     

Support Early Development with Social & Emotional Learning 

What is social-emotional learning?  

Social-emotional learning, or SEL for short, is the process of educating children on how to identify and manage their emotions. It is an important process for early development as it helps children build relationships, cope with stress, and form a better understanding of themselves and how to regulate their feelings. There is a huge link between SEL and mental health, since it creates emotional maturity, and expands the feeling of control over one’s thoughts and life. It creates empathy and helps children put routines in place for ways to handle extreme emotions when they arise. SEL encourages children to familiarize themselves with ways to handle different emotions such as anger, excitement, jealousy, worrying, happiness and sadness.  

Why is it important for early development? 

Social-emotional learning is very valuable for early development as it helps set up skills that are important for day-to-day interactions with other people as well as one’s own self-control. Emotion management can be difficult for young children, and it can often remain a challenge in teen and adult years. This is an example of how early development can set the stage for later years, as habits, attention to actions, and control are all a huge part of successfully managing emotions. SEL is also important for awareness, as it teaches children to be aware of their communication with others, become a more understanding friend, and compassionate community member.  

SEL builds a foundation for a cooperative and happy classroom, and research shows that SEL leads to less emotional distress, better grades, test scores and focusing abilities. This also benefits teachers who as a result, spend less time disciplining students. Emotions heavily affect learning and behaviour, often causing students to talk out of turn or be a distraction to themselves or their peers. SEL is incredible because it goes beyond just helping children in the classroom – it helps children throughout a lifetime.  

SEL is incredible because it goes beyond just helping children in the classroom – it helps children throughout a lifetime.  

children in a classroom learning about emotions with their teacher

What are the five components in social emotional learning? 

There are five main components to SEL learning and focusing on these individual components is a significant step in creating independent, successful and confident learners. The Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL) has identified these 5 components in social emotional learning that are connected to competencies: 

  1. Self-awareness 

Being aware of oneself, abilities, feelings, strengths, and weaknesses. This is a huge part in creating new and better habits for emotional regulation, as it is important to be conscious of weaknesses to improve.  

  1. Self-management 

Controlling behaviours and impulses, managing stress and motivation to set and achieve realistic goals. Self-management can take some adjusting to, as reprogramming your brain to recognize situations in a separate way can be a learning curve.  

  1. Social awareness 

The ability to identify other people’s emotions and understand other point of views with empathy and compassion. Social awareness is the ability to recognize social cues, facial expressions, and being capable of stepping outside their own experiences and feel for others, regardless of their background or circumstance. 

  1. Relationship skills 

Being able to build and maintain relationships and create positive personal interactions while playing and working with others. This can look like engaging in productive conversations, asking questions, effective communication habits and being an inclusive friend.    

  1. Responsible decision-making 

Being conscious of consequences and making good decisions. Responsible decision making is a huge part of development, since it helps children understand cause and effect and prepares them immensely for the future. Even simple decisions like seating arrangements or clothing choices help children develop a sense of authority over their own lives and helps them feel in control and capable of making their own resolutions. 

How can social-emotional learning be used to help emotion management/behaviours and where should I start?  

As an educator, there are many things we can do to help children learn how to self-regulate. For starters, identifying what kind of problems students are having. Are you noticing a lot of fidgeting? What about accomplishing goals and meeting deadlines? Are students experiencing a lot of conflict amongst each other? Sometimes the simplest tasks can make the biggest difference, and when it comes to social-emotional learning starting off with small tasks and information gathering can be a great first step. 

Even simple decisions like seating arrangements or clothing choices help children develop a sense of authority over their own lives and helps them feel in control and capable of making their own resolutions. 

  • Start simple. SEL conversations do not need to be extreme or even out of the ordinary. Observe behaviours. It is easier to help settle certain emotions once you have noticed a reoccurring pattern. Watch children in your classroom interact and get a sense for their personalities, tempers and habits. 
  • Encourage conversation. Ask students what they are struggling with and identify the problems, what are triggering them, and steps to put in place to help calm down or moderate the situation in the future. Make sure all students know that it is important to talk about their feelings and express them, and that keeping them inside and feeling alone is not the answer. 
  • Educate them about how to have empathy for other students. It is incredibly important to make sure children can put themselves in other people’s shoes and feel for them. Ensure that they are aware of being sensitive to other people’s situations and encourage them to treat their classmates with kindness!  
  • Check in with your students. Ask them how their day is, or how their weekend was. This is a fantastic way to show you care and help students feel like they are included, and it makes them want to reciprocate the energy. Start every day with a simple “How are you feeling?” question to make them feel supported.  
  • Start every morning with a positive reminder. Encouraging and giving positive feedback to children can really help them have a positive self-esteem.  Ask children to write something nice about themselves each day. This helps build a constructive and supportive feeling in the classroom!  
two young girl having fun with a guitar and fishing net outdoors

How can I help my students regulate themselves emotionally?  

There are many exercises students and educators alike can engage in to help understand social emotional learning and set them up with positive emotion regulation skills. Encouraging children to express their feelings in a healthy way instead of repressing them is a great first step, as many children (and adults alike) have difficulty speaking about their emotions as they feel they should be kept inside. Encourage students to speak about how they are feeling and remind them by asking them how they are feeling consistently. Teach them ways to cope when these feelings arise. Imagine a toolbox equipped with everything you may need to fix something. Sometimes you need a drill, other times you may need a small pair of pliers. That is kind of what coping with emotions is like. Every situation is different, but the common theme is still the same, and you need to adapt these tools and strategies for different emotions.  

 Here are some tips and lessons to help guide your classroom through social emotional learning. 

  • Show and discuss a feeling wheel. Feeling wheels can be very helpful when identifying emotions, as they are colour coded and can familiarize themselves with the colours that correspond with the matching emotion. This is a huge help for those who are visual learners especially. Ask questions like “what feelings do you think when you think of the colour blue?” and discuss these emotional connections. Doing an art project and using different colours is a creative way to allow students to demonstrate the correlation between emotion and colour. 
girls playing, smiling and painting
  • Validate their feelings. No matter how big or how small a situation is, the emotions that follow it can often grab a strong hold on us. Having an adult listen to their feelings and tell them that it is okay to feel the way they do as opposed to “just get over it” or “stop complaining” can make a world of difference. Instead of saying something like ‘Stop feeling nervous”, try something like “Lots of people get nervous when speaking in front of other people. What can we do to help you feel less nervous?” This can significantly help students to feel validated, safe understood and encourages suggested solutions for emotional regulation to come from them directly. 
  • Pay attention to the senses. Ask students to identify five things they can see, four things they can touch, three things they can hear, two things they can smell, and one thing they can taste. Encourage students to do this exercise when they experience extreme emotions, as it helps them stay grounded when they are in a panic. Teach about breathing lessons, such as taking deep breaths in and out and ways to use this to become calm in high stress situations. 
  • Write positive affirmations for classmates. Pair up some classmates and ask them to write some positive qualities about each other. Even simple affirmations and compliments can make a difference and help children work towards better self-esteems and learning more about each other to learn more about empathy and inclusivity. 
  • Teach about changing mindset and language. Changing phrases from “I can’t do it” and “This is hard” to more affirming language like “I can do it once I keep trying” and “This will take effort and time”. Brainstorm ways as a class to change the language you are using boost confidence and find solutions. The Mindset Bulletin Board set and the Grow For It! Mini Bulletin Board Set are great visuals to start with. 
young girl learning during early development with her teacher

What are some childcare resources and educational supplies that can help regulate emotions?  

Every child’s needs can look different. One specific and very common thing a lot of children struggle with focus and ability to stay still, especially during teaching lessons. This can cause anger and frustration in children, which can stay bottled up and become difficult for children to maintain and keep under control and often result in lashing out or tantrums.   

Some suggestions to regulate these tough emotions are using various stimulating toys, such as the wiggle seatbalance ball chairfidget foot rollerwiggle wobble chair feet, and bouncyband for desks. These products by Bouncyband are fantastic because they are available in multiple sizes and colours to best accommodate the student. They are perfect at getting out wiggles and fidgets and helps refocus learning so that students can be at their best. Assisting in letting out their frustrations and restlessness can help productivity and mental clarity and help the class mood become lighter and more on track. They promote energy and stamina to help children be more attentive.  

child sitting at desk reading with Wiggle Wobble Chair Feet

Children are happier when their brains are stimulated and are mentally engaged. The clearer they can think guides them in the right direction in all aspects of learning. Bouncyband offers more solutions than just seating arrangements; they also offer incredible sensory toys that help fidgeting fingers which are often a product of anxiety. The thingmajig or the fidget phone are both great for children who feel overstimulated and require hands on learning to help them refocus. 

child sitting at desk with book and sensory toy

Reading about emotions is a great way to help students learn about SEL. Book series like the Dealing with Feeling series looks at a different emotion commonly experienced by young children such as angry, caring, happy, jealous, proud, sad, shy and worried. Another great reading choice is Have You Filled a Bucket Today, an award-winning heart-warming book that encourages positive behaviour as children see how very easy and rewarding it is to express kindness, appreciation and love daily. The books help readers to identify their emotions and provide tips and advice on how best to express and deal with them. Another option could be breaking out into groups and playing Social Emotional Learning Games, like Personal Growth GamesConflict Resolution Games, and Social Skills Game to learn about emotions with a more fun, playful, and interactive approach. The Explore Emotions Super Doll encourages discussions about feelings with this cute and soft doll. By using the Velcro facial features, students can create 16 different emotions on the dolls face. 

child holding stuffed doll featuring a confused face

Social-emotional learning focuses on personal difficulties and how to improve them, such as focusing ability, restlessness, conflict resolution, teamwork, setting goals, and coping with emotions. It serves a purpose of benefiting personal growth and managing day to day tasks. SEL may seem complex and complicated, but it doesn’t have to be. Starting with small conversations, tips and discussions and ease the way into emotional regulation and decision making. Learning is different for every child, especially when each child is unique and has different ways of learning. Offering solutions to different problems and listening to children’s voices is very important because they know their styles and needs best, so taking a lead from them by asking for ideas and input is fantastic to make sure your teaching style is adequate to their learning style. 

Preparing your Classroom for the New Year!

It’s that time of year again – freshly sharpened pencils, brand new backpacks, and smiling faces. There are so many things to think about when it comes to organizing a new year! Returning to school can be hectic, and there’s lots to focus on when it comes to planning new lessons, rearranging the classroom, and, of course, getting to know your new students.  

Here are some tips, inspirations, and products for making this year the best year yet!  

Start Fresh 

Keep a positive, fresh, and brand-new mindset. Leave behind the stresses or messes that happened last year! The last year and a half has been anything but ordinary, so don’t be hard on yourself. It’s crucial to take care of yourself this school year. Clean up your workspace and make it the most optimal space for you!  

Lessons and classroom décor can be stressful when you leave them to the last minute. It’s important to stay on schedule and keep on track by planning. Using a calendar and checklists make it easier to keep track and organize the upcoming year. 

Getting to know your students 

Playing fun ice breaking games is one great way to engage students during the first few days of school, which can be awkward for some. Encouraging a positive and friendly work environment is a great way to help students feel more comfortable. Making a class birthday calendar and celebrating birthdays together is a fun and an inclusive way to remember everybody’s birthday and celebrate together!  

Some students need help calming their first day jitters, and some can have a difficult time paying attention in class, and sensory activities often help aid as a solution. Providing things like Bouncyband chair feet or the Bouncyband wiggle seat for your students can help fuel their excitement for learning.  

It’s important to discipline poor behaviour in the classroom, but it’s equally important to praise good behaviour, such as giving students stickers as a reward for great work. Students are motivated when they are receiving positive feedback for their actions, and it sets the narrative to other students that their good work does not go unnoticed!  

Must-have Classroom Resources 

Looking for some great products for back to school? Here’s some of our recommendations! 

Social distancing is still important going back to school this fall and social distancing spots help make it simple. Made from disposable and waterproof fabric, they are perfect for the classroom. They can even be drawn on with markers or crayons to make them special and personalized! 

The Scheduling Pocket Chart is perfect for the new year! It features fourteen pockets to display the plan for the day, helping students learn to prepare, schedule, and recognize time and daily routine!  

The busy fingers gel fidget is a great tool for students who need to keep those hands busy during lesson time. It quietly helps to relieve stress and boredom and provides sensory input. 

Looking for more back to school inspiration? Check out our Pinterest Boards where we have tons of product ideas, inspiration, and printable activities for your classroom!  

Let’s Get Ready for Summer Break!

As teachers, it’s important to start prepping for September a little earlier than most people. Whether you are planning big upgrades to the classroom or are just stocking up on your go-to products, ordering supplies in June is a better way to be ahead of the game and take the stress off preparing for the fall season. Giving your order lots of time to arrive makes it easier and gives you that space and time you need to make all the proper preparations for the upcoming school year. 

Are you dreading the thought of those difficult, heartfelt goodbyes? Crafts are just the thing to cheer you up and creating goodbye cards could be a fun and creative solution. Have every child work on their own personal tribute to their friends and classmates, by designing their very own special card. It gives each child a little piece of the school year to remember their friends by. Making each card personal, expressive and colourful is an awesome way to help the kids show off their creative skills – and hopefully make those farewells a little easier. 

We know the eagerness and overwhelming excitement that comes when the school year draws to a close. The bursts of energy and desire for socialization looks a little different this year, and it is important to keep those little minds and hands busy. There are different ways to approach the next two months, and it is important to keep a thriving environment and help our kids be the happiest and healthiest they can be. Here are some tips and activities, to share with parents to help make this summer the best one yet.  

  • It is no secret; kids thrive with structure and routine. Providing kids with a daily schedule has an immense number of benefits – it helps kids create a sense of security in their young life that is constantly changing.  
  • Staying busy is a huge key to summertime success. Allowing little ones to assist with household chores such as creating grocery lists, gardening, taking care of pets and house cleaning is a fantastic way to keep children engaged this summer, while teaching them about responsibility at the same time. It’s a great way to teach them the importance of taking care of their belongings. (Parent bonus point, who doesn’t love an extra set of hands helping around the house?) 
  • Setting small and achievable educational goals can also be a fun way to stay learning through the summer months. They can be little things such as reading a book at least once a week, watching an educational math lesson before dinner or doing a science experiment each weekend. Creating quizzes and flashcards with math and science questions with prizes could be a wonderful opportunity to make education fun. 

  • Setting and scheduling these little goals using a calendar can additionally reinforce organization. At the beginning of each month, label a calendar and set aside some time for learning and fun alike. Throwing in some other enjoyable activities like a family movie night or baking cookies together can help give our summer breakers something to look forward to, each day and upcoming week.  

We hope that you have found these ideas on how to prepare for summer and build a productive, fun and creative day-to-day routine helpful, and that you have the best summer 2021 possible – in whatever special way it turns out this year. By the way – don’t forget the sunscreen! 

Going Green from a Young Age

Teaching sustainability during early childhood is important and provides children with great tools to connect with the environment while letting them understand how and why it is important to take care of our planet. The earlier we begin to introduce environmentally sustainable education, the earlier it lets our children develop and hone those skills that they will carry with them for the rest of their lives. Helping our children learn about living sustainably does not have to be a difficult process! There are countless ways to introduce this topic into your curriculum from kindergarten to graduation – and we can have fun while doing it!  

To start off, let’s first answer this simple question; What is Sustainability? When it comes to the environment, there is a lot of talk about living sustainably. Living a sustainable lifestyle means having ownership by accepting responsibility and taking good care of Mother Earth. By taking the right steps and precautions now, we can ensure that all the beautiful things that our planet has to offer, like the coral reefs, will be around for future generations to enjoy. A great starting point is with the element that provides life for all living creatures – water!  

Understanding the water cycle and the importance of having clean and plentiful water can be difficult when all we must do is turn on a tap and clean water comes pouring out. Use the Water Cycle Wheels to show the four stages that water must go through – evaporation, condensation, precipitation and collection/runoff. Talk to your class about how water is a finite resource and why water conservation is important in our day to day lives. Share some tips on saving water, like turning off the water while they brush their teeth or helping fill the dishwasher before starting it! 

Another great way to start a conversation about environmental sustainability can be summed up with a phrase we all know: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle! For example, here at Quality Classrooms, a couple of ways that we do our part is by offering lifetime warranty furniture and carrying a large variety of Eco-Friendly products that focus on sustainability to minimize our eco-footprint. These products contain all-natural, recycled or alternative materials and are shipped in biodegradable or recyclable packaging without plastic.  Just by opening them with your class, you can jump into a lesson on sustainable materials and the impact that they have on the environment. Start a discussion with your class on things that they do in their daily lives that reduces waste. 

The Green Toys line has created a variety of toys that are made of 100% recycled plastics, like milk jugs! Using these products in your classroom gives a physical example that recycling can result in something meaningful and that our old stuff can become new again. Using 100% recycled products in your class creates a perfect opportunity to start a dialogue about how what we do can have an impact on the environment. Whether that is bringing a reusable lunch bag and water bottle or making sure our recyclable products make it into the right bin. Ask your students to brainstorm ideas on how to make your classroom a greener place! 

 Let us know your favourite ways to go green in the comments below!