Monthly Archives: January 2018

How Daniel Tiger Can Help Teach Your Child Social Skills

Imagining with Daniel Tiger

In an article from PBS, the common thinking that television is harmful to your child is reassessed.

New research shows some TV helps kids

Fortunately, a new study by researchers at Texas Tech University has found that not all TV is bad. I know, that is news. During a conversation not too long ago with some research colleagues I discovered that several of us had children who were really into Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood. My then 4-year-old daughter seemed to be especially enamored with the show — she sang songs about counting to four to help her calm down, about flushing the toilet and washing her hands, and about grown-ups coming back. Knowing that very little research explores the effects of TV shows that try to teach social skills to kids, we decided that we just had to conduct a study about Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood. Here’s what we did:

  • We enrolled 127 preschoolers and one of each of their parents in our study.
  • Over a two-week period, we had some of the kids watch Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhoodfor 30 minutes each day, while some of the kids watched 30 minutes of a nature documentary each day.
  • We then interviewed the kids and played some special games with them that allowed us to measure certain social skills—empathy, recognizing emotions, and social confidence. Each of these three skills are part of what makes up “school readiness,” and are good predictors of success in kindergarten and beyond.

Study results

So, did watching Daniel Tiger help kids learn these important social skills? The short answer—yes. The long answer—there’s a catch. Here’s what we found. Kids in the study who watched Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood had higher levels of empathy, were better at recognizing emotions, and were more confident in social situations than the kids who watched the nature show. This is especially true for low-income children and kids ages 4 and younger.

The catch? Kids experienced the above benefits only when their parents regularly talk with them about what’s on TV. In other words, the study found that it was the combination of watching Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood and parent-child conversations about TV that produced increases in children’s social skills. Neither watching the show alone, nor talking alone, was enough. It takes both.

Other studies show the same thing—parent-child conversations about media content help children learn the good things that shows like Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood teach. Here are some ideas to help you get these much-needed conversations started:

  1. Point out the good things that TV characters do. If Daniel Tiger shares a cupcake with a friend, tell your child that you love it when people share.
  2. Repeat the lesson being taught by the show. If Daniel Tiger calms himself down by counting to four, help your child do the same the next time it’s time to calm down.
  3. Ask your child questions about content in order to get them thinking about how they can apply the lesson in their own life. If Daniel Tiger isn’t sure about whether or not to apologize, ask your child what s/he would do in that situation.

Whether you use these ideas or come up with your own ways to reinforce positive TV messages, the important thing is to start talking with your kids about what they see on TV. The more conversations the better.

Name Snowmen

Teaching young children name recognition and how to spell their name is a large focus in our younger classes.  This fun activity combines spelling their names with a little craft.  Make “snowballs” for the letters of each child’s name.  You can also pull scrap supplies from around the house to make the faces and decorate the snowmen.  Then let the child “build” their snowman, and glue him together.  If your child is using scissors, you can let them cut the snowballs as well.

Winter activity for preschoolers - Name Snowmen Preschool Craft

Keeping The Germs Away

It’s no secret that flu season is upon us, and many families are affected by the bugs going around.  This article from the pragmatic parent offers some great solutions.

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1. Sleep

Sleep is incredibly important to keeping the immune system operating at optimal levels. A solid sleep routine will help kids not only stay on the side of healthy, but perform better in school and come home in a better mood than they would otherwise. A study by the University of Pennsylvania found that sleep deprivation – even in mild form – can have a big impact and reduce the body’s immunity.

Children and teens needs between 9 to 11 hours of solid sleep. Consistent sleep is important to bolstering the immune system, especially in cold and flu season.

2. Nourishing Food

Foods high in fat, sugar and white carbohydrates can suppress the immune system, making kids (and adults) more susceptible to illness. Make sure your kids get enough of the good foods to not only support healthy development but immune wellness.

  • Be sure to include a balanced diet including vegetables at most meals, and foods high in Vitamin C and D can give the immune system a shot of ultra goodness when you see something coming on (sniffles, lack of appetite, a spike in whining or upset behavior and catching extra sleep)

Equally important is to keep hydrated! Pack water bottles for school and remind them to chug water after school, before/after activities, at dinner and before bedtime.

  • Eliminate sugary drinks such as juices and sports drinks for water so they’re staying hydrated and not compromising their immune system with added sugar.


3. Wash Hands

Image result for germ prevention kids

Most kids don’t wash their hands as often as they really should be. Encourage them to wash their hands when they come inside, after running errands, before eating, after using the bathroom and when they’re around others – especially those who are sneezing, coughing or full-blown sick.

Hand-washing is the best line of defense against germs and if this means stocking your bathroom with a variety of fragrant smelling and foamy hand soaps because your child like them, then do it!

Warm water should always be used with hand-washing and to aim for 20 seconds of soaping and scrubbing. Ask them to sing the alphabets twice happy birthday or their favorite jingle a couple of times.


4. Sanitize Hands at School

Encourage your child to spray or wipe their hands after lunch, after recess, after handling items in the classroom, between classes, etc.

These are great to keep in the front pouch of a backpack for easy and quick access.


5. Avoid the Germy Places



Another thing to avoid at school are the germs spots – the places where germs are just waiting to pounce!

Beware of these hotspots for germs and if kids come in contact with them, wash those hands!

  • Water Fountain Spigot (this is the #1 germiest place in school!)
  • Bathroom Doors
  • Bathroom Faucets
  • Cafeteria Trays
  • Keyboards
  • Art Supplies (cups, paintbrushes, supplies)
  • Toilet Seat
  • School Desks (unavoidable but a desk wipe down will help!)


6. No Sharing Food & Gear

We teach our kids to share and be generous but this is one of those times which not sharing is a good thing. Tell your kids to not share food, bites, utensils, cups, straws and other items where germs are easily transmitted by mouth and saliva.

In this case, saying No is permitted and encouraged.


7. Wash School Gear Like Lunchboxes & Backpacks

Germs and illnesses can also be brought home on school supplies so be sure to wash down lunch boxes, backpacks and anythings else sent to school regularly.

Most lunch boxes can be rinsed and scrubbed with a little soap and hot water and set out to dry. Backpacks can be run through the washing machine on a gentle cycle once a month to keep it looking clean and the germs away.

8. Less Stress? Kids Need More Outside Play Time & Fresh Air

School can bring out a lot of stress and anxiety within children. After school, although homework needs to get done at some point, should be a stress-free zone where they can play and get outside and move their bodies after-hours of sitting behind a desk.

Create a routine after school which allows for unstructured play and relaxation, preferably in the sunshine outside. For example, if school gets out at 3pm, let them play outside until 4:30 and then sit down to do homework from 4:30 – 5 or 5:30pm while you cook dinner and are present to supervise and help.

The fresh air, sunshine and a little dirt will all do incredible things to boost immune wellness! When kids are stressed, this immediately begins to tear away at immune systems. The less pressure they feel to perform at school and then at home can greatly boost a child’s health and emotional wellbeing.

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If You Could Be Any Superhero…

“If you could be any superhero, who would you be?”

This is one of the more fun questions you can ask your kids to get conversation going.  And this craft helps keep it going by letting the kids create their own.

Have your kids create masks, capes, and paint the bag for their favorite super hero.  Once dry, the kids can do a puppet show with their super hero bags.

Melted Snowman Bags

What do you get when you combine clear packing tape, white glitter, silver confetti, cheap clear hair gel, water,  foam pieces, five buttons, and a zip-close sandwich bag? A melted snowman your kids can play with!

Squishy Snowman Sensory Bag | Mama Papa Bubba

Hint for the start:  If your kids are a little more firm with their play, consider double bagging or using heavy duty bags for this project.

Tape the edges of the bag on three sides to give extra support.  Then add hair gel, water, glitter, and confetti (proportions don’t matter as much).  Seal the bag and let the child mix the ingredients together.  Once it’s all mixed together, add foam eyes and nose and buttons and seal the bag shut again.  Make sure the seal is dry and add more tape to the top (a heavy duty tape would work well).  You can also add a hat to the top of the snowman to make him more authentic looking, or you can leave him be to complete the melted look.





For more details, check this link!

100th Day of School

Today is our 100th day of school! We are celebrating by wearing our clothes inside out and each student bringing 100 of something to show their friends. Some fun 100 “somethings” can include:

100 words write 100 words on the 100th day of school


100 cups 100th day of would love this!

or 100 cereal pieces in a necklace

Here is an example of a student's 100th day of school necklace.  It is made out of fruit loops.  Students were encouraged to make patterns with the colors, as well as, make sections of 10 by using the dividers to separate the groups.

There’s so many fun ways to celebrate 100 days of learning!

This dream jar from is a brilliant way to open communication between you and your child.

Here’s how it works:

Write questions on colorful slips of paper. Some can be serious and some can just be random or funny. Put each slip of paper into the jar, close it, then have kids decorate with glitter, paint and stickers.

Have each child pull out a question, then go around the group giving everyone a chance to answer. Discuss the answers and ask why, how, and other follow up questions to get a discussion going.

Dream Jar image

Here are some ideas to get you started:

Would you rather spend all day with people or dogs (and why)?

Which type of job would be more satisfying to you: one where you call all the shots or one where you’re a vital part of a team?

If you could go back in time and invent one of these things, which would it be and why: peanut butter, electricity or the bicycle?

Which of these would you like to do someday and why:

a) Write a song

b) Build a table

c) Solve a crime

Your family can create their own dream jar routine but it’s nice to keep it in the car or in the kitchen, where you’ll have the most alone time with your kids. Happy dreaming!


Bathtub Fishing

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Most kids love playing in the water. This combines water play with letter recognition.  Craft a makeshift fishing pole with a stick or dowel.  Tie a string around one end of the stick and attach a strong magnet or a washer to the other end of the string.  Drop a bunch of magnetic letters in to the tub and fill it with water. Let your child “fish” for letters. For added learning, have them name the letters as they reel them in. Older kids can name the sounds or create words with the letters.