Halloween Play-based Learning and ELECT

Have you seen how CCPRN is using the ELECT framework to develop children’s events? Here we’ve shown how children learn through play, using our Halloween party activities as an example!

Halloween Felt Board Play Sets

Halloween Party Felt Board

We asked the children: “Can you dress the people in costumes? What costumes do you see?”

With this activity they had the opportunity to learn the following skills:

3.1 receptive language, simple turn-taking

3.2 expressive language

3.3 vocabulary

3.5 using descriptive language to explain

4.7 symbolic representation

4.10 classifying

5.1 gross motor coordination, reaching and holding

5.2 fine motor coordination, holding and using tools, pincer grasp

5.3 visual exploration, visual discrimination, tactile exploration

5.4 sensory motor integration

P is for Pumpkin Group Activity

Halloween Party P is for Pumpkin

We asked caregivers to recite the rhyme: “P is for pumpkin and much, much more. Take a peek when I open the door!” and lift the flap to reveal a picture underneath. The children were encouraged to name the picture.

With this activity the children had the opportunity to learn the following skills:

1.5 interacting positively and respectfully

1.6 co-operating

2.5 regulating attention

3.3 vocabulary

3.6 listening to others

3.10 phonological awareness

3.11 letter recognition

3.13 matching spoken words with written ones

4.5 observing

4.7 symbolic representation

5.1 gross motor coordination, reaching

5.2 fine motor coordination, pincer grasp

Leaf Counting Game

Halloween Party Leaf Counting Game

The children were asked to count the leaves and place the correct number in the box. With this activity they had the opportunity to learn the following skills:

2.5 regulating attention

4.2 problem solving

4.7 symbolic representation

4.13 determining quantity

4.15 representing numbers

4.20 completing simple number operations (one-to-one correspondence)

5.1 reaching and holding, gross motor coordination

5.2 fine motor coordination, holding and using tools, pincer grasp

5.3 visual exploration, visual discrimination

5.4 sensory motor integration

Spider Match Game

Halloween Party Spider Match Game

The children placed the spiders on their corresponding webs. With this activity they had the opportunity to learn the following skills:

4.7 symbolic representation

4.10 classifying

4.17 understanding two-dimensional objects

5.2 fine motor coordination, holding and using tools, pincer grasp

Face Patterning Game / Make a Jack o’lantern

Halloween Party Pumpkin Patterning Game

Children recreated pumpkin face patterns using the assorted shapes. With this activity they had the opportunity to learn the following skills:

4.2 problem solving

4.7 symbolic representation

4.17 understanding two-dimensional objects

4.18 identifying patterns

5.2 holding and using tools, fine motor coordination, pincer grasp

5.3 senses, visual exploration, visual discrimination

Creature Match Game

Halloween Party Chop Sticks

The children used chop sticks, tweezers and tongs to place little critters in the same coloured pail. With this activity they had the opportunity to learn the following skills:

4.10 classifying

5.2 fine motor coordination, holding and using tools, pincer grasp

5.3 senses, visual discrimination

Creature Creation Blocks

Halloween Party Blocks

Children were asked: “How many silly people can you make? Stack the blocks and see!” With this activity they had the opportunity to learn the following skills:

1.6 co-operating

4.10 classifying

4.12 counting

4.13 determining quantity

5.1 gross motor coordination, reaching and holding

5.2 fine motor, palmar grasp

Halloween Play Dough Mats

Halloween Party Play Dough Mats

The play dough mats provided an open ended art activity for this children. With this activity they had the opportunity to learn the following skills:

5.2 fine motor coordination

5.3 senses, sensory exploration

5.4 sensory motor integration

Treat Bag Decorating

Halloween Party Treat Bags

Children decorated their own treat bags as well and had the opportunity to learn the following skills:

4.3 representation

5.1 gross motor coordination, reaching and holding,

5.2 fine motor coordination, holding and using tools, pincer grasp

Skeleton Bones Puzzle

Halloween Party Skeleton Match Game

The children could lay out the skeleton bones by matching their numbers to the ones on the map. With this activity they had the opportunity to learn the following skills:

1.6 co-operating

2.5 regulating attention

5.1 gross motor coordination, reaching and holding

4.15 representing numbers

4.22 using spatial relations, maps

Click here to view or download your copy of the Early Learning for Every Child Today (ELECT) document and plan out your play-based activities!

What Songza ‘re you listening to?

Listening to music promotes many skills in a child’s development. Language, rhythm and pattern, movement, vocabulary, and memory skills are just a few. Children have the opportunity to learn songs when they hear them repeatedly but as caregivers and parents we may not always share the same enthusiasm for hearing that same CD or iPod playlist again and again. The radio offers variety but the music aired is becoming less suitable for young kids.

Future Rock Star

Last year I blogged about using Grooveshark to play free music and create custom playlists. But Songza is even easier. The playlists are already created, allowing you the control to skip the songs you don’t like. Simply set your ‘mood’ or search your genre and there’s a ready-made playlist for your listening pleasure day after day.  Simply go to songza.com or download the free app for iPod and iPad.

Songza’s playlists include songs from Animated Movies, Sesame Street, classical music, lullabies, bedtime songs, and even Christmas tunes! We all have our favourite music to listen to, but there are times where we want to mix it up a bit. Songza will be sure to help you keep the music fresh for you and your little ones at home and in your daycare.

Oh and check out this playlist just in time for Halloween!

Signature - Jo

There’s a need for home-based daycare. Here are four ways to improve it

~ as published in the Globe and Mail.
The death of 2-year old Eva Ravikovich and her parents’ lawsuit charging the Ontario Ministry of Education with failing to adequately protect children in illegal child-care settings has cast a spotlight on independent home child care and sparked an important debate about how to ensure the safety and quality of care for our children.

Home-based child care providers are ready to work with parents and the Ministry to provide top-quality child care. However, we need a child care system that encourages partnership and empowers everyone to ensure that our children’s early years provide the best foundation for optimum child development.

A safe, reliable and high-quality provincial child care system does not have to be costly or complicated.

Independent home child care providers are most working parents’ choice for child care. Parents choose it because this setting provides a more personal, loving, home-like environment where there is a greater flexibility and children benefit from the close bonds they need. Home child care also provides personalized options that are suited to parents’ ethnic, cultural, dietary and other child rearing philosophies.

In order to find and choose the right setting however, parents must understand how to define the type of child care they need, where to find it and how to express these needs to their child’s caregiver.

Home child care is woven within the fabric and culture of each unique community. This includes care provided in a family’s own home by nannies or relatives and care provided in other homes by relatives and home child care providers. By its very nature, home child care adapts itself very differently in rural and remote settings, in suburbs and in urban downtown cores.

Independent home child care providers are accountable for the quality of the care they provide. They are motivated to be part of a system that recognizes their uniqueness and empowers them to provide the best possible care. However, to provide the highest quality care possible, they also need provincial child care health, safety and welfare standards, with an emphasis on developmental learning.

This system is affordable and would be easy to manage. It can be affiliated with existing provincial programs such as the Ontario Early Years Centres and above all, it should encourage co-operation between all stakeholders. We are all working towards the same goal.

We must all work together to build an affordable, high-quality child care system that will ensure our children’s early years provide the foundation for a lifetime of growth, development and positive achievements. This can be done in four steps:

Step 1: Establish provincial early learning and care health, safety and welfare standards for home child care.

Step 2: Share these standards with parents and independent home child care providers through a province-wide public education campaign.

Step 3: Establish a provincial registry of home child care providers to unite them and connect them to the appropriate provincial support and resources. Core features should include basic caregiver qualifications, training and membership in a support network such as the Child Care Providers Resource Network (CCPRN), ongoing training and resources for parents and all home child care providers.

Step 4: Set up a voluntary system of accreditation built on a common framework which will ensure that all independent home child care providers provide optimum high quality care. This program would assure parents that their caregiver is committed to meeting standards and continuously improving the quality of the service they provide. Accreditation can promote a standard of care based on and exceeding the Day Nurseries Act while incorporating the E.L.E.C.T. (Early Learning for Every Child Today) framework.

Ontario’s children are our most precious resource and our future. Every single one of them has the right to the best possible care. Parents often use their hearts to make decisions about where to place their children, but they also need the knowledge to research options and make an informed choice.

There is room for all types of child care within our society and it is absolutely possible to develop an excellent, transparent and publicly managed system of child care in Ontario. This system does not need to cost taxpayers billions of dollars or levy a huge administrative burden to government.

Let’s focus on co-operation and empowerment to improve the child care system in Ontario. After all, aren’t those the same principles we use to raise our children?

Brenda Burns is president and Doreen Cowin is executive director of the Child Care Providers Resource Network of Ottawa-Carleton (CCPRN).


Books to get Your Children Excited about School

Today’s the first day of school for many kids! While it marks a fresh start for returning children, it means a time of transition for many of our littlest ones about to begin new school experiences. It’s an exciting milestone, but the start of school can also mean anxieties for what’s to come. Separation anxiety and nerves about new routines and even new friends.

Books offer a way to address the changes occurring in a child’s life. Stories with characters children can relate to and events that are relevant to their lives can provide some reassurance when faced with big life changes.

There are so many books written with a school theme to choose from but I’d like to share with you my personal favourites.

Pete the Cat Rockin School Shoes

Pete the Cat Rockin’ in My School Shoes, Created and Illustrated by James Dean, Story by Eric Litwin

In this book, our beloved blue cat is heading off to school and takes it all in a stride, reassuring us that “it’s ALL good.” Pete the Cat books are positive, catchy and rhythmic, so this school-themed edition is perfect for even little ones entering preschool. See also Pete the Cat Wheels on the Bus.

If you take a mouse to schoolIf You Take a Mouse to School, By Laura Numeroff, Illustrated by Felicia Bond

This is a typical Laura Numeroff book about a child-like character progressing through a silly sequence of events. Numeroff’s “If you” books keep a child’s attention as anticipation builds throughout the stories. In this school edition, we read about what could happen during an average school day when a boy brings along a loveable little mouse.

There was an old lady who swallowed some books

There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed Some Books, by Lucille Colandro, Illustrated by Jared Lee

That little old lady has been swallowing more things – this time books and school supplies! Like the Laura Numeroff books, the Old Lady series also promotes a child’s narrative skills with its distinct sequence of events. The rhyme and repetition make these books fun and engaging for children and are a great addition to any home library.

The Kissing Hand

The Kissing Hand, By Audrey Penn, Illustrated by Ruth E. Harper and Nancy M. Leak

While this book may be too long to hold the attention of some very young children, this endearing tale of a mother preparing her child for the start of school is ideal for school-aged children. This is a must read for any child embarking on a similar journey and who may be experiencing some fears and separation anxiety.

The Dot

The Dot, Peter H. Reynolds

While this book isn’t necessarily about going back to school, it does take place in a school setting. The main character is a student that learns a valuable lesson from her art teacher. This book is inspirational and beautiful in its simplicity. It ranks among one of my most treasured children’s books – I love everything from its message to illustrations.

Thanks for reading and best wishes to all your little ones starting school this year!

Signature - Jo

Nature Walks and Scavenger Hunts

Peter Knippel Photography- Nature Walk

© Peter Knippel Photography

Hands-on experiences with nature are an important element in a child’s development. When given opportunities to explore, connect with nature, and experience its beauty children gain an understanding of the world around them.

Mother nature offers so many rich sensory experiences that can satisfy a child’s natural curiosity and provide endless opportunities to manipulate, collect and compare newly found treasures. In addition to lessons in science, children learn to label, identify and classify natural elements. They use found items as their own creations in their play. Sticks, twigs, acorns, pine cones, rocks, and leaves become the most versatile of toys; tools of the imagination.

This summer CCPRN hosted several Nature Walk and Scavenger Hunt events across the city. Julie prepared bags for the children to gather their treasures inside.

Nature Walk & Scavenger Hunt Bags

Click here for a free printable: nature walk scavenger hunt Checklist

As residents of Ottawa, we are so fortunate to have access to beautifully maintained nature trails and green spaces. So before summer’s end, be sure to get outside and encourage these experiences that promote an appreciation and lifelong respect for nature. Click here for a detailed list of trails within the Ottawa region.

Thanks for reading,

Signature - Jo

Book Walk

CCPRN recently incorporated a ‘Book Walk’ into our pre-summer picnics.

So what exactly is a book walk?

A book walk is a way to encourage children to be involved in a story. So here’s how it works.

For this one, we chose the book called “There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Shell” written by Lucille Colandro, illustrated by Jared D Lee.

Book Walk 4

Each page of the story was mounted to a board throughout the park and children were encouraged to physically move through the book by walking from page to page.

book walk 3

Each board was numbered in sequence to help guide the children and caregivers.

Book Walk 2

Along the way, caregivers read the story as their children collected different items at each post that were relevant the story.

Book Walk 5

Book Walk 7

The items collected can be used as props to assist in retelling the story later. This activity builds on a child’s narrative and memory skills.Book Walk 6

Join us at different parks throughout the city this week for our outdoor messy play and book walk events (registration required). We will be offering a book walk with a spin ~ caregivers and children will be encouraged to write a story of their own.

Visit our calendar of events at http://www.ccprn.com to register for this and other events for children.

To borrow a “book” for your own book walk contact the Early Literacy Specialists at the Parent Resource Centre 613-565-2467 ext 232 or 233

Eye Spy Games

Eye spy games are a natural fit for young children and there are so many varieties to keep it fresh and exciting. These games foster a child’s curiosity, visual discrimination and language skills. Some promote fine motor manipulation, print motivation and sensory exploration.

Eye Spy Bottles

The beauty of creating eye spy bottles  is that you can choose smaller items that you wouldn’t normally give very young children to play with.

Recycle your plastic bottles or containers and fill them with all kinds of fun things. Pictured above (from left to right): oil and water with small plastic beads and food colouring – hair gel and googly eyes – oil and water with food colouring – tiny pasta (or beads with miscellaneous items hidden inside). Seal the lid with a glue gun (and consider taping  it closed with electrical or duct tape for extra security).

Eye Spy Boxes

These rugged little eye spy boxes were made from old cassette cases and are an ideal size for small hands to manipulate. Simply fill with small items (themed or by colour) and seal with packing tape! Consider making alphabet themed boxes for your preschool and kindergarten aged children.

Eye Spy Sensory Bin

You can even make an eye spy game by hiding related items inside your sensory bin. The possibilities are endless.

A very special thank you to CCPRN Board Member Laurie Boucaud for this picture of her bug themed sensory bin.

Eye Spy Pictures

Consider taking pictures of assorted items or of your sensory bin to create custom eye spy pictures to use at a later date. Simply print and laminate for a fun game that can be used again and again. This tool can be enhanced for older children by including a checklist of items to find.

Eye Spy Book

Eye spy books are a great option for incorporating literacy into fun! This is an ideal activity for quiet time as well.

I spy bags 2

Eye spy bags require some sewing skills, but if you have a sewing machine equipped with a walking foot, all you need is a small piece of clear plastic vinyl, fabric, and items to hide inside. These themed bags were filled out with flower arranging beads from the dollar store.

Your children can have so much fun with these homemade toys they won’t even know they’re learning!

Happy spying!

Signature - Jo

Daycare Science: Vermicomposting

What child doesn’t love to play with worms and dirt?!

Shelly Wright, a CCPRN home child care provider member is not only encouraging this kind of play, she’s using it to promote learning about life cycles and healthy environmental and nutritional practices.         And she’s doing it just in time for Earth Day coming up on April 22nd.

Being an avid gardener, Shelly purchased an extra compost bucket for this special project. The small bins from the City of Ottawa’s green bin waste program (available at Canadian Tire stores) are ideal for housing worms because they keep the light out but still allow for air to enter through the tiny holes on the lid. Using this kind of container, allows Shelly to store her composter indoors and use it year round.

vermicomposting 1

To start vermicomposting, Shelly put about 2 cups of earth from her garden into the bucket with some shredded newspaper and about half a dozen red wriggler worms*. She recommends placing just a small amount of food scraps into the bin every other day or so and adding egg shells to neutralize the acidity. It’s important to avoid putting in meat, dairy or animal waste.

Shelly involves the children by asking them cut the food scraps into small pieces with plastic knives and placing them into the bucket. They give it a stir and check up on the worms’ progress regularly.

Vermicomposting 2

Vermicomposting is just a small component of the many earth-friendly concepts that can be introduced to your children.

Children can observe and participate in using worms to create earth – which leads to using the fresh soil to plant seeds – then watching the seeds turn to vegetables we can eat – recycling the vegetable scraps to feed the worms – which in turn creates more earth!

 Shelly also put together a simple sensory bin on the composting theme to further enhance her daycare children’s learning through play.

Vermicomposting 3

She included dry soil, fake worms from the fishing section of her hardware store, pretend food, a magnifying glass, a bottle of water, spoons and cups for the children to play with indoors.

Vermicomposting 4

For more information about vermicomposting, check out these helpful sites: http://espacepourlavie.ca/en/vermicompostinghttp://thewormfactory.ca/

Thanks for sharing Shelly and for inspiring us to do the same!

Signature - Jo

* It is important to purchase red wriggler worms.  Here in Ottawa we have been able to buy them from Arbour Environmental Shoppe,  but it has recently closed its Bank Street location. So in the meantime, you can check where to order from here: http://www.cityfarmer.org/wormsupl79.html


Healthy Choices

March is nutrition month, so I’d like to share some helpful resources today to help you and your children make healthy – and hopefully exciting – new choices in the kitchen.

healthy choices food

The first resource is the Eat Right Ontario website that offers tips on easy, budget-friendly menu planning. The resource section provides information on such things as tips for feeding young children and printable PDFs like Bake It Up!; a book filled with nutrition tips and recipes for baking healthier treats. What a fantastic resource for getting children excited about, and involved in the kitchen. Younger kids can help pour and stir while older ones can read recipes and measure ingredients.

Children’s development is directly affected by their food choices. Poor nutrition can lead to decreased academic performance and behaviour problems. If you suspect a child in your care may have a nutritional issue such as poor growth, iron deficiency or unhealthy feeding, you may benefit from Public Health’s Health and Nutrition Screening Tools workshop at CCPRN on May 2nd from 7-9pm. For more information on the NutriSTEP Screening Tool (Nutrition Screening Tool for Every Preschooler) click here. To register for the workshop, go to www.ccprn.com and search in the calendar of events.

This month CCPRN is also kicking off Recipe Tuesdays on Facebook so be sure to ‘like us’ to view the healthy, seasonally relevant recipes we’ll be featuring. We’ll be posting more recipes on our Pinterest ‘recipe & menu planning’ pinboard as well.

Thanks for reading,

Signature - Jo

Income Tax for Daycare Providers

With income tax season upon us it may also be a good time for us to evaluate the effectiveness of the record keeping strategies we’ve put into place. This is of particular importance for home-based business owners.

Income Tax for Daycare Providers


While the deadline to file income taxes is not until April 30th, child care providers are required to provide receipts to all daycare families no later than February 28th. One receipt must be submitted for each child in a family.

A common question that  is asked at the CCPRN office this time of year is what information should be included on receipts. In addition to the child’s name, his/her parent or guardian, the duration of care  or tax year, and amount received, each receipt should also state the child care provider’s name, address and social insurance number (SIN).

Wondering what expenses to claim as a daycare provider?

Child care providers are entitled to claim expenses that relate strictly to their child care services, such as accounting, legal and other professional fees, advertising costs, entertainment, equipment, groceries, insurance, interest, office expenses, outings, rent, repairs and maintenance, subscriptions, supplies, telephone, training and travel.

In cases where a vehicle is used in a daycare, providers can also claim such expenses as fuel costs, insurance, leasing cost, parking fees, repairs/maintenance, washing, and plating and licensing.

Of course it is easier to keep track of all expenses when personal costs are separated from business fees. If possible, open a separate business bank account and credit card. All records must be kept for 7 years.

If you would like to learn more tips on daycare record keeping and income taxes, there are still  spaces available in our upcoming Income Tax workshops. We’re offering it on 3 different dates with 2 different locations to suit you. Register online at www.ccprn.com

Information above has been provided by Claire at www.scanlaninnovations.com

For further information on income taxes go to: www.cra.gc.ca


Signature - Jo

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