5 Reasons to Send Your Kid to Preschool

This post brought to you by Creme De La Creme. All opinions are 100% mine.

Allowing your child to get a head start in preschool has many benefits. Preschool doesn’t  just prepare your child for kindergarten

1. Nearly 80 percent of brain development occurs before age five. Choosing a high-quality preschool program will give you the head start they deserve in life.

2. A great preschool will lay a great foundation for knowledge needed for school. When your child starts kindergarten and already knows how to do the things they’re teaching, that opens the door for advancement and even faster learning.

3. Interacting on a daily basis with peers their age helps improve their social skills, and self-confidence.

4. Craft and art projects, reading, and playing games – these are all educational activities cleverly disguised as “fun” in preschools!

5. For many children, preschool is the first time they experience true structure on a larger scale. Kids thrive on structure, and a good preschool provides that.

The best preschools I’ve found that meet all those criteria and more is Creme de la Creme.

Here’s an excerpt from their website and a $500 coupon so you can try them out yourself…

More than anything else, what defines Creme de la Creme preschool is the success of our students who come back and share stories of how their Creme experience gave them the tools they needed to excel in school, in relationships, and in life.

The facilities look like Disney world when you walk in – it’s too cool for the parents and for the kids to experience.

Call now and get up to $500 off your tuition.

“CBS… found a place where everything is up to date in education, 
where they have gone about as far as anyone can go.” Dan Rather CBS Evening News

“Now for the lucky few who have access, there’s a new trend among some day-care providers to make pre-school much more sophisticated and luxurious then it’s ever been.” Tom Brokaw NBC Nightly News 

“It’s Disneyland because of the design… it’s Harvard because of the emphasis on early childhood education.” Good Morning America 

“It’s a pre-school for the 21st century.” Diane Sawyer Good Morning America

Crème de la Crème’s passion for child development has spawned research to enhance the learning experience in young minds. In fact, Crème has been bringing out the greatness within children since 1980, earning awards for the best daycare and the best childcare centers throughout Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, New Jersey, Ohio, Texas, and Virginia. Within minutes of arriving you’ll understand why children enjoy learning at Crème.

Visit Sponsor's Site

Holiday Gift Idea for Preschoolers: Magic Fun Dough (Giveaway)

I found a great holiday gift idea for preschoolers thanks to the folks at RoseArt and Linqia- the new Magic Fun Dough sets.  Battery free and non toxic, these sets don’t need batteries to play- they run all on creativity.  These sets come in 6 different themes and range from $9.99 to $19.99.  They are corn-based, wheat free and gluten free so you if your little one has allergies to any of these items, they can stills safely enjoy the sets and modeling compound.

preschool-gift-idea-magic-fun-dough-roseart

The Magic Fun Dough sets are found in the crafts area of your local Target and Walmart stores in addition to being available for purchase at Amazon.com.  They are meant for ages 3-7 but my 8 year old has been enjoying the Fairy Tea Party set we received for review right along with her little sister.  We have almost 2 full weeks off for vacation over the holidays this year and Santa and I will both be bringing several gifts that include crafts and creative thinking for the kids to share and keep busy! We like to have activities and games that we can share together and enjoy together.

roseart-magic-fun-dough

Adding the transfer to your dough is easy.  Roll it out, remove the plastic covering from the transfer you want to use (just like temporary tattoos)

and lay it atop your dough.

roseart-magic-fun-dough-transferOnce the transfer is in place, gently dab water using the applicator to moisten the paper.

roseart-magic-fun-dough-wetThen, gently press the sponge stamp on top of the paper to make sure the design transfers to the dough. (About 1 minute)

roseart-magic-fun-dough-presAfter the minute is up, slowly peel back the paper backing from the transfer.  You’ll want to let the design air dry a few moments before doing anything with it.

roseart-magic-fun-dough-revealOnce your transfer design is dry, cut it with a shape cutter or freehand and enjoy playing!

roseart-magic-fun-dough-fairy-transfer

Our fairies like to spin until they are very, very dizzy.

roseart-magic-fun-dough-fairy-spin

The transfers are meant to be absorbed into the dough- it doesn’t change the color or texture of the dough- so when you are done playing, you can just put the dough into the containers and start fresh next time you want to play! Each piece of the set has a purpose- either to display or build new pieces. The large mushroom opens to create shapes, there are shapes to be made all over the ‘grass’ area, the back of the teapot house and inside the door have shapes, and also, when you put dough in the top of the teapot, you can press it out into different shapes and make “tea.” It’s a lot of fun and I can see my kids continuing to enjoy this for a long time to come.

Other sets include Volcano Valley, Pirate Cove, Barnyard, Pet Shop, Princess & Ponies and of course, the Fairy Tea Party.  These would be a GREAT purchase for grab bags, Secret Santa, toy drives and more!  No batteries to replace.

One reader will win a Magic Fun Dough Fairy Tea Party Set!

Don’t forget to check out RoseArt’s Facebook page for a fun sweepstakes- enter to win up to $1000 cash!

Peg + Cat Preschool Series Debuts 10/7 on PBS Kids

PBS Kids has a whole new show and it’s full of girl power (and kitty) that they’ve asked me to share with you.  Peg + Cat premieres on Monday, October 7 and with adventures, jokes and songs, the characters solve problems using foundational math skills and concepts. It’s a pretty sneaky way to get kids learning some really good math basics that will stay with them throughout their schooling- but the educational stuff is so masked with fun and silly games and songs that kids won’t know (or care) that they are learning about shapes, numbers, counting and more.  Peg’s cute and sweet with enough spunk that parents will love her too, and it’s hard not to love a cat who bears the name “Cat.”

peg-cat-character

Here are the top three reasons to tune in:

(1)Why the math focus?  National assessments show that 60 percent of students are performing below proficient levels in math by the 4th grade, and this learning gap is more pronounced in children from low-income families. PBS KIDS wanted to address this need through a series that helps all kids build a strong foundation in math as early as possible so they can reach their full potential in school—and in life.

(2) Each episode features a story in which Peg and Cat encounter a problem that requires them to use math and problem-solving skills to move forward. Each  storyline also teaches cooperation, perseverance, and resiliency – traits that are important both in and out of the math classroom.

(3) Learning is fun on PBS KIDS. Two 11-minute stories are in each episode of Peg + Cat, weaving jokes and songs with math concepts and problem solving.

 
We’ll be tuning in on October 7, will you? 

Tricky Stories: Magic Castle – kids game for iPad and iPhone

This is a sponsored review about the Tricky Stories: Magic Castle – kids game for iPad and iPhone.  Opinions are my own.   Tricky Stories: Magic Castle is a new kids game for iPad and iPhone releasing 8/29/13 (download on iTunes). At first glance, I kind of thought this app was almost a virtual sticker book- but upon exploring a bit, and watching the kids interact, I quickly realized it was much more.  This app is kind of like a felt board and puppet show blended together into an interactive game on your device.  There’s the scenery and buildings that are “set” in place, but your child can engage and move different components and characters around to their heart’s delight.  That scary, fire-breathing dragon may be on the verge of capturing the king’s castle, but wait! Along in the distance comes the stereotypical knight in shining armor to save the day.  Or, if your kids are like mine, maybe the princess throws a giant birthday cake at the dragon and ties balloons to the dragon so he floats away, never to be seen again.

tricky-stories-magic-castle-creativity-app

The monster is really happy because he tricked his friend the prince into chopping up firewood so he doesn’t have to do a lot of work.  The princess has flowers she wants to bring to her teacher who lives over the bridge and past all the flowers. The raccoon lost his special friend Bear last week at the park but the lady bug brought it back to him and he’s happy today.  (Description by my 4 year old)

My kids spend a lot of time doing dramatic play and imaginative play.  They’ll play with the Lego guys and the My Little Ponies who will all ride together to free a stuffed dog who’s been put in time out by the big mean mommy (um, that’s probably me).  This app isn’t going to take away any of that fun, but your child can have similar fun engaging and interacting with the people, places, animals and things that you find on the different pages of the Tricky Stories: Magic Castle app.

One really fun thing I like (and the kids adore) is that you can take polaroid-like snapshots of the scenes you create.  Which may mean your camera roll is looking similar to this, although I can almost promise you that your kids will likely stare at you when you say “oh! those look like polaroid pictures!” because they have no idea what a polaroid is.  These develop instantly, no need to shake them or wait for them to show up.

tricky-stories-magic-castle-ios-app-ipad-iphone

In this photo, the kids were telling me that the fox is playing hide and seek but he’s not winning and he’s going to get really sad. The princess is planning to bring out a cake and make a surprise party so he doesn’t feel bad all day.  (Description by my 5 year old)

We had a double appointment at the pediatrician this week for both girls’ physicals.  That meant my son  was along for both visits, and stuck in an exam room with not much to do.  We read several books together, but he was bored and getting very antsy.  I set the iPad out on the exam table and within a moment, he and little sister were playing around and happily entertaining themselves while big sister was out getting her checkup stuff taken care of.

This app will be available for 1.99 starting August 29th (today).  It’s fun, it’s affordable, and definitely an app that kids can go back to over and over again without it being the same every time.

What are your favorite apps? Are you planning to download Magic Castle?  I want to know what your thoughts are!

 

Toilet Paper Birdfeeder

I’m smitten with the idea of the monthly subscriptions that are available to consumers.  For kids, most of these subscriptions offer craft ideas, with everything you need, right inside the box….and one of the companies who makes these boxes, ItsySparks, contacted me about doing a review of their ItsyKit for little ones. Our April kit included supplies for recycled bugs, decorating our own shopping bag, caterpillar planter and a toilet paper birdfeeder.

itsy sparks bug

Here’s what I love:

Kits come set to go.  It’s not just a box with a mish mosh of things, it’s a kit in a bag for each project included.  There are 3-4 projects in every single kit! Our kit even used parts of the box for projects- if that’s not being green, I don’t know what is!

All of the parts and pieces

Usually some pieces/parts left over

Fine motor, problem solving, exposure to various art mediums, and more

Ideas and suggestions to build off of the projects included in that month’s kit.

Science, math, language arts, social studies and more…through play.

Creativity, exploration and fun.


itsysparks reusable tote

Here’s what I don’t love:

Having to wait for the next box to come. (Patience is not my strong suit)

That’s it.  It’s a fair price, at $24.99 (Free Shipping) a fabulous idea for a gift (subscriptions come in different lengths of time),   A year membership can get expensive, but honestly, for parents with not a lot of storage space, not having to store 1000 tiny craft supplies will love this, and quite frankly most kids I know aren’t in need of any more “things” to keep in their house or room.  How much fun is getting mail when you are a kid- especially a package?

One thing I keep thinking about with these kits is how well they lend themselves to travel.  Even the birdfeeder we made- all of the parts came right in a ziploc bag, and I can quite easily imagine throwing that kit into a suitcase or bag for a fun activity to do at gramas, Aunt Sue’s, or somewhere else a family may be heading.  Everything needed comes in the kit so it’s simple to slip in and have a fun activity for just in case.  We will be joining a pool club this summer and I plan to keep a few of the project ideas in my bag for days when my older kids have tennis lessons and my little one doesn’t- she’ll be happy and busy, and we can have a little mommy-daughter time together.  That’s a win for all of us!

Visiting the ItsySparks site brings more tips and ideas, and the ItsyBits section has lots more suggestions for crafts and different ways to explore the 5 senses!

itsy sparks birdfeeder

Want to make your own Toilet Paper Birdfeeder?  This one is super easy- and, allergy free (uses honey instead of peanut butter)

What you need: 

Toilet Paper Roll

2 chopsticks (I think you could use bamboo skewers as well)

Birdseed on a paper plate.  2-3 T should be enough for a birdfeeder- there’s not an exact science to this project

2T honey (per roll used)

Stick, spoon, something to spread honey with

String  (12 inches or so)

What you do:

Spread newspaper for the mess (I can almost promise you that there will be a mess)

Poke 2 holes in the top of the TP roll for the string, and 4 small holes in the bottom of TP roll to push the chopsticks through (you want them as pictured above)

Spread honey all over the toilet paper roll

Roll the honey-covered TP roll into the birdseed on the plate, covering thoroughly.

Push chopsticks through the holes

Push string through holes at top of roll and tie at top

Hang your feeder and enjoy the bird watching!  We had a lot of Red Breasted Robins, Catbirds and Chickadees who have come to visit our little feeder.  Ours has held up really well and we’ve been able to re-do the honey/birdseed combo a few times on the same TP roll!

Thanks to ItsySparks for our membership! We love it!! Opinions are my own, as always. 

 

 

 

What is YOUR favorite Nickelodeon Show? Free #NickBackpack with purchase! (sponsored)


My oldest nephew, now married and maybe starting a family of his own soon, grew up with the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Somewhere, in fact, there exists a box of ALL of his old toys- which he’d love to share with my son, who’s now, 20 years later, loving the TMNT on Nickeleodon just as much as Joey did. Of course, it’s brought on a new obsession with pizza….but it’s also allowed us to expand into new toys and imaginative play with the Ninja Turtles and not just superheroes with him.  He’s been asking me for a “cool” ninja turtle shirt to wear — I just found a few really cute (sorry, pal) TMNT shirts on NickShop that I may just have to order for his birthday this summer!

tmnt shirt kids

My kids ALL love Bubble Guppies on Nick.  I like it too. It’s cute, it’s fun, and if I find a show all three of my kids will sit down and watch?  I’m a happy mom.   When we are in a dancing mood, we turn to Fresh Beat Band.  I like the shows on Nick as a mom because I can know that the programming matches the ages- the kids just like the shows because they are fun and entertaining.  Some are just fun, but often, especially with the programming for younger children, there’s some hidden educational components that are wonderful.  Team Umizoomi has very fun and “hip” music plus a lot of mathematical concepts all masked with a robot, cool cars…


free team umizoomi backpack

If you are Nickelodeon fans, head over to Nick Shop soon- when you purchase select items you can get a FREE Team Umizoomi backpack (oh, yes, another show my little ones adore!)  NickShop is THE place for parents to find gifts for their children. NickShop features new and exclusive merchandise from children’s favorite Nickelodeon shows like TMNT, Winx Club, Dora the Explorer, Team Umizoomi, Bubble Guppies, The Fresh Beat Band, and SpongeBob SquarePants.

Thank you to the Nick Shop for sponsoring this post. All opinions expressed here are my own.

Sprouts™ Serve it! My very own dish set #Giveaway

toddler dishes, learning resources My kids love cooking- either with role play or actually helping me to cook.  Either way, this always, always goes better when the dishes, bowls and utensils they are using are the appropriate size for little hands… and little foods.  The new Sprouts™ Serve it! My very own dish set offers a way for kids to actually use and manipulate dishes and play food with plenty of room for the foods.  (Anyone who’s played with pretend foods has probably experienced the frustration of the foods not fitting or coming close to fitting on the dishes!!  It’s frustrating for the kids and the adults!)

As we have before, we sent these dishes in to my son’s preschool classroom.  This is a peer model program and I love being able to support the teacher and staff in the classroom.  Mrs. O has loved everything that Learning Resources has to offer and has been very glad to be able to try some new manipulatives, games and products for the children in class.  Many of the children in the classroom are working on improving fine motor skills  and social skills,

Love them!!!  The colors are great. They are simple and durable. They resemble real dishes that kids use in the real world which I really appreciate. I like the size of the plates and bowls too – the kids can actually fit a “meal” on them whereas with other plates that we have you can only put one piece of play food on at a time.

 

  • Larger—size dishes to truly fit play food and chunky, easy-to-hold silverware
  • Encourage social interaction and build color identification through dramatic play
  • Perfect for Pretend & Play® and New Sprouts™ play food
  • Set of 4 of each dish item and silverware. Plate measures 7″L x 7″W
  • Super safe: Meets FDA specifications for food use. Dishwasher safe. (The dishwasher safe feature is a FAVORITE feature for me- when kids are sick, they can go in the dishwasher and be clean, and germ free!!)
  • Ages 2+

We are hoping that the folks at Sprouts decide to expand this line a bit and add some more pieces, perhaps some pots and pans or serving dishes!?

 

One lucky reader will win a set of  Sprouts™ Serve it! My very own dish set

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 I received a sample of this product to facilitate my review.  Opinions are my own.

Playtime is tons of fun with Nickelodeon’s Floam & Gak!

I remember babysitting my nieces and nephews all through the 1990s and playing with Floam and Gak from Nickelodeon.  It was crazy fun, the kids loved it, we all enjoyed it, and now, Nickelodeon’s Floam and Gak are back…  and they’re better than ever!

Completely reformulated to make playtime and clean-up a cinch for a new generation of families, new Nickelodeon Floam and Gak are two unique reusable compounds, each designed to encourage creative thinking and open-ended play:

 

 

 

 

•    New Nickelodeon Floam is an incredible, reusable molding compound.  Mold, fold and roll new Nickelodeon Floam into any creation imaginable – the possibilities are endless!


•    New Nickelodeon Gak is a stretchy, squishy collectible compound.  Gak can be squeezed, stretched, bubbled and more – once kids pick up Gak, they won’t want to put it down!

 

The Floam is tons of fun to play with although I will tell you that you DO need to remove it from the packaging and knead it for a few minutes first.  This is great for kids’ fine motor skills anyway, and fun, but also necessary for the product to perform as promised.  Once it’s kneaded the first time, you won’t have to do it again.  Each of the Floam packages comes in a reusable container and ours had a bonus little “stamp” in different, fun shapes (see photos above).  Tons of fun for all three of my kids.  Our colors were, of course, mixed up into a rainbow within 20 minutes of opening the packaging, but the kids had a blast and have been asking daily to use it since- so I’d say this product is a HIT!  We received a mat with our floam that was great- it helped the kids to contain the area they were making creations in, and kept cleanup to a minimum.  One of our colors was the red floam and that did leave some reddish residue on the mat- it didn’t stain hands or clothes past a quick wash with soap and water, though.  I think I may just skip the red when we buy more, and we definitely will be buying more. I think this would be a fun birthday gift!

The Gak is a ton of fun- one of my all-time favorite sensory experiences for kids, and such a different feel that most kid modeling compounds.  Stretchy and squishy and ohsomuchfun!  (I can’t seem to locate the pictures I have today of the kids and their Gak).   If you notice that your Gak is a bit too wet when you first open it, just set it aside and let it get some air (like wine!) before playing.  A few kneads and it’ll be good to go.

These compounds are a ton of fun for kids of all ages- even soon-to-be-38 year olds!

I received samples of these products to facilitate my review.  Opinions are my own. 

 

Froggy Feeding Fun Game from Learning Resources #Giveaway

froggy feeding funI have another “guest” review from my son’s preschool teacher.  Mrs. O is a certified special education teacher who is the head teacher in the Peer Model Preschool Program at our local elementary school.  She’s been doing some reviews of Learning Resources‘ learning games and sensory products for me and has just sent me some feedback on Froggy Feeding Fun!

 This is a wonderful game. I can incorporate so many different math concepts such as color identification, counting, 1:1 correspondence, the concepts more than and less than… Students really enjoy the frogs and find them motivating. Not only do students benefit from learning math concepts when playing this game but they also work on strengthening their hand muscles each time they squeeze a frog to catch a fly. This really helps support appropriate finger grasp on writing tools. As a special education teacher in preschool I also incorporate crossing midline and concepts such as in front of, behind, left, right, etc when playing Froggy Feeding Fun.

 

I love Learning Resources because they truly offer educational games and toys that offer different ways for kids to learn in fun ways.  I have found their quality of materials to be nothing but excellent and will continue to support this brand because of their dedication to kids’ educations.

Look out, flies! Squeeze open Froggy’s mouth and grab flies to strengthen fine motor muscles. Also develops number sense, counting and color recognition.

  • Roll a cube to determine which flies to munch—practice number and color matching skills too
  • Includes 2 durable rubber frogs, 60 flies, 1 number cube, 1 color cube and Activity Guide
  • Frogs measure 2.5” in diameter

One reader will win Froggy Feeding Fun for their house!

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Fairy Tales Hair Care is great for Winter!

fairy tales hair careWe’ve already been using Fairy Tales Hair Care products for about a year now. We “met” the brand with their Rosemary Repel line- an all natural lice repelling hair care line. With 2 kids enrolled in our local elementary school, this is something I like to keep on top of.  Now that all three of my kids also have hair, I also have to keep on top of managing their hair and keeping it as healthy as possible.  My oldest has long hair now, it’s about half way down her back.  My 4 year old has “hair” for the first time in that he’s not buzzed- so I’m finding that I need to condition his hair a few times per week as well…and now that my youngest has visible hair, as little as she has, it gets just as dried out and frizzy from the winter as the big kids’ does.

fairy tales hair care

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