What Types of Toys Support Healthy Play?



Look for toys, stuffed animals, figurines or dolls that aren’t from a tv show, or other media, to allow your child to create her own play ideas. Helping children to develop their creativity and life skills is important for lifelong learning.

Also allows for child to be in-charge of their play, while a battery-operated doll that talks limits what your child might pretend.


Quality toys can be used in more than one way and will grow with your child. For example, nesting block, buckets or tunnels can be used for many things: stacking, filling, and as he or she grows they can turn them in car garages, cities, or homes for animals.


Children learn by using all their senses. Young babies learn by using all their senses. They enjoy play that involves a variety of textures, as well as touch, songs, and dancing. For older children, playing with paint, sand or dirt, dried beans and ice cubes will provide opportunities for learning using touch, smell, sight and sound. 


Play is essential to early learning; children need to be actively involved in their play to develop basic learning skills.

Play allows children to explore the world and gain confidence. And it improves the child’s social skills as well

Create the Scene for Play:

Babies and toddlers learn by watching other children play. Provide opportunities for mixed age play experiences
Create a safe play space, where children can move around freely
Less is more. Provide a few toys and rotate them when children lose interest. 

Household objects that allow infants and toddlers to play creatively:

Small pots and pans
Wooden spoons
Carboard boxes
Measuring spoons, cups
Plastic tubs with lids (yogurt, butter containers)

Written by: Ashley McKee

How to Support Your Child Through the Holidays

These winter months can be tricky to navigate with young children.  Their routines and schedules often change significantly, due to shortened days, traveling, child care program closures, etc.  These changes can lead to situations that are less than ideal, i.e. crankiness, excessive energy, aggression, increased crying….

Although we do not have control of some of the changes that will take place, we as parents, do have control over how we respond to our child.  This time of including your child in celebrations such as the New Years celebrations, Tet, Hanukkah, Christmas, Solstice, Kwanzaa, and many others, is so vital to your culture and handing down of treasured traditions, it is important to think about how your child is learning them.  Is this a festive time where the members of the family are happy and inclusive of the youngest child, or is it a stressful time where children are discouraged to participate?

Invest in the time to share special moments with your child! This encourages future participation in these precious celebrations.  I have attached a couple of articles from the ZERO TO THREE website addressing traditions and supporting a child’s social emotional growth.

Zero to Three Link:

Specifically for grandparents




For parents



Written by: Kristin Horn

How to Design a Soothing & Safe Garden for a child with ADHD

A garden that is safe and calm helps soothe a child with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Everyone knows that a child with ADHD functions better in an environment that is neat and orderly. In this regard, a garden that exhibits the same characteristics of order and structure will be beneficial. Adapted gardens become safe havens for children with special needs that will, at the same time, nurture their sensory experience and provide stimuli for growth and development. Among children aged 4-17, 11% or 6.4 million have been diagnosed with ADHD according to CDC 2011-2012 statistics. The percentage of ADHD diagnosis varies by state with a low of 5.6% in Nevada and a high of 18.7% in Kentucky. In Montana, 9.1% of children suffer from ADHD based on CDC reports.

A Garden That is Safe

One of the interventions to help children with the symptoms of ADHD is to provide a safe refuge such as a garden. In designing a garden, it is important to consider your kid’s safety. There should be no buckets with water or sources of water where small children can drown. Tools and implements must be put away to avoid clutter and disorder. Quality fencing is important for the garden should be a place where your child feels safe. If you are to designate a playground, choose an area that is near to the house where you can supervise your kid even if you are indoors.


A Garden That Calms and Stimulates

A kid with ADHD gets easily distracted. While this does not mean that you should make the garden bald to minimize distractions, you must strike the right balance between bareness and sensory overload. Design the garden with a combination of flower beds, shrubs, and trees. You can even put a water fountain as your garden’s centerpiece. The sound of water is also relaxing for a child who is stressed or upset. Make sure though that it is out of reach for very young children and stable so that older kids will not topple it. Clean your water fountains regularly so that you can prolong their life and enjoy their beauty.  


Make the garden a place where your child can go for some time out or an area where they can do homework (weather-permitting) in peace and calm. It is also that patch where your child can play outdoors releasing unspent energy by running, playing or exercising. Involving them in activities such as planting, weeding or raking ensure that the plot is neat and clean.


Gardens are important spaces for everyone, young or old. It can even become a potential treatment for children with ADHD, a place where they can relax, play or just chill.  

Written by: Jane Sandwood

Gingerbread, gingerbread, gingerbread!!

The holiday season is here and it brings with it wonderful smells of cinnamon, pine, and one of my favorites….gingerbread.  Many of us are busy decorating gingerbread men and women, houses and even trains with the children in our care.  Why not expand our gingerbread to include some yummy baked gingerbread items for breakfast or snack, like the attached  “Gingerbread Muffins” and “Gingerbread Pancakes”.     Enjoy and have a wonderful holiday season!”

Coaches Corner: Is it Challenging Behavior or Lack of Sleep?

Sometimes what may seem like challenging behavior may really be the expression of an overtired child. Sleep has a powerful impact on child behavior – even as it does on adult behavior (we have just to consider how we feel after a poor night’s sleep and how we move through the following day, particularly without a cup of coffee to boost our engines). Over-tired children have a more challenging time weathering life’s “challenges” and “storms”. They may engage in more tantrums, have more conflicts with teachers and peers, be more accident prone, get sick more often, and have difficulty settling into play. Click here to read the full article.

CACFP Meal Pattern Updates

Centers and day care homes offering meals through the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) play a critical role in supporting the wellness, health, and development of children through the provision of nutritious foods. Child care providers, in particular, have a powerful opportunity to instill healthy habits in young children that serve as a foundation for healthy choices in life.

The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, USDA made the first major changes in the CACFP meals and snacks since the Program’s inception in 1968, which will help ensure children have access to healthy, balanced meals and snacks throughout the day. The updated CACFP nutrition standards will help safeguard the health of children early in their lives. 

These improvements are expected to enhance the quality of meals served in CACFP to help young children learn healthy eating habits early on in their lives and improve the wellness of adult participants. CACFP centers and day care homes may continue to comply with the current meal standards as they transition to the updated meal standards. However, all aspects of meals served through the CACFP must meet the updated standards no later than October 1, 2017.

Under the updated CACFP nutrition standards, meals and snacks served will include a greater variety of vegetables and fruit, more whole grains, and less added sugar and saturated fat. In addition, the standards encourage breastfeeding and better align the CACFP with the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) and with other Child Nutrition Programs. 

Click here for updated flyer.