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School Rules! Handling the Transition from Daycare to School

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In August and September many of our children transitioned to preschool or kindergarten. To highlight this transition and the methods we use to help kids with this transition we look at two providers Vivian Collins from North County area and Georgene Mason, Gabo’s Schoolhouse in the Delmar Loop area. As you gear up for the new school year, check out these low-cost, back to school activities St. Louis area providers are using to make transition into the school year exciting and fun in. As new and returning students arrive providers are working on finding the base learning children are accomplishing.

Two issues especially confront providers: separation anxiety and assessment screenings for children. Separation anxiety is a challenge returning and new students face. Activities such as the Kissing Hand below help deal with leaving family. Other activates help children ease into the school year and allow teachers to assess where children are at, so they can plan effectively and facilitate parent/teacher communication.

Don’t forget to tune in next month when we highlight another of our STL Educare providers as they explore specific assessment tools for children and having conversations with parents about effectively making referrals for assistance.


Funding for STL Educare is provided by the Missouri Department of Social Services, Children’s Division, Early Childhood and Prevention Services Section

Back to School Activities:

1. Harold and the Purple Crayon Playdoh: This project combines reading comprehension and fine motor skills in one activity. Read the book Harold and the Purple Crayon. If you don’t have this book it is available as told on YouTube. After reading/listening to the book, ask what things Harold drew and write them down for children. Then make Purple Crayon Playdoh:

Ingredients: 2 ½ crayons chopped up, 3 cups flour, 1 1/2 cup salt, 2 Tbsp. cream of tartar, 2 Tbsp. oil and 2 cups water


Steps: First, chop up crayons. Exact amounts don’t matter. In a large bowl, mix together the dry ingredients

Next, heat oil in a pan. Add the chopped crayons. Stir until the crayons are completely melted. Slowly stir in 2 cups of water while stirring. Certain types of crayons will either make a clumpy goopy looking liquid. Other types will make a smooth liquid once the water is added. Either way is fine. Just keep stirring. Slowly, stir in the dry ingredients. The dough will pull together in a ball over the heat. Once the dough pulls together, dump it out onto a cutting board or counter. Let the dough cool until you can tolerate kneading. Knead the dough for a few minutes until smooth. (Note~ the waxy texture of this dough will create a spa-like experience while kneading) Use playdoh to recreate scenes from the book. Younger children will love the feel of this playdoh. Fine motor skills are strengthen by kneading the dough. Add scissors for more skill building. This activity provides a great opportunity for journal writing/drawing.

2. Paper Tunnels: This activity build eye-hand coordination and planning. Using construction paper and tape (painter’s, masking or washi). Cut some paper in half, others whole. Fold ½ inch on either side for tabs and tape the tunnels to a hard surface to form rainbow tunnels. Children drive their cars through the tunnels. Expanding on this: put a color chart to tell children which car to drive through next. Add numbers to top of tunnels to have children plan a trip through the tunnels in numerical order


Advance: cut toilet or paper towel rolls in sections. Decorate, place a number or shape on the top. Attach to a cardboard box lid. Place a pom-pom ball in the lid. Have children make the ball roll through the tunnels in order or shape. More? Have older children add the numbers the ball rolls through for addition practice.

Splash! Splash! Have a Blast with Water Fun this Summer

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Water play is a fun and natural way to get children involved in hands on learning while keeping cool in the hot summer months. With just a few props, water, soap, and toys you have around the house or child care program you can turn water plan into small business planning for a car wash. In a multi age home child care setting all of the children in your care can get involved. Infants can explore the feel of warm or cool water and how it moves, while toddlers run cars through a carwash that has been set up by the pre-school or elementary school children. There are signs to make, cars to count, things to build, customers to talk to, and so many ways that kids can think about real life applications for science, technology, engineering, math, and language.


Our July activities highlight two providers Champion Learning Center from Tower Grove South in St. Louis, and Zion Child Development Center from the North County city of Ferguson, MO. Check out these low-cost, water activities St. Louis area providers are using to make learning fun in the summer fun. Don’t forget to tune in next month when we highlight another of our STL Educare providers as they get ready to welcome children back to school in August.

Funding for STL Educare is provided by the Missouri Department of Social Services, Children’s Division, Early Childhood and Prevention Services Section

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Water Play Activities:


1. Walking Water: This is project is exciting to watch, it goes against the laws of gravity. There are several learning opportunities for students to explore: gravity, science exploration, and color mixing. Discuss with students what they believe will happen. This experiment provides a great opportunity for journal writing/drawing. Providers can introduce Newton’s Laws of Gravity. The experiment gives children the opportunity to follow the stages of Science exploration: observation, question, hypothesis, experiment, analyze and conclusion. Providers can also discuss how colors react when they are mixed together.

Steps: Fill 2 of the 3 jars with water, add food coloring to the water, cut a full-sized paper towel in half and fold in half (length), create an arch placing half in the colored water jar and the other half in the empty jar, repeat with other color. You should have paper towels from each of the colored water jar going into the empty jar. Watch as the water walks up the paper towel and into the empty jar!
Equipment Needed: 6 empty jars, food coloring, water, paper towels

2. Sink or Float: This experiment creates a ton of fun as children find items to test. It is designed to help children make predictions on which items will sink or float. It is a great opportunity to introduce density (size compared to what the item is made of) as well as continuing with journaling experiments.

Steps: In a large clear container add enough water that allows the items that sink to be noticeable to the children. Continue adding items to the water. Discuss with children their prediction.
Equipment Needed: Large clear container, water, variety of objects: cork, crayon, cotton ball, toy car, paper, plastic straws, balloon (blown up and deflated) aluminum foil (flat and crumpled).

3. Shark Attack; Save the Alphabet: This can be done as a team or individual. As a team; children are divided into two groups. The group that saves the most letters within the time allowed is the winner. As an individual; children will take turns searching for the letters. For infant play use a smaller container with shallow water. This is a great opportunity for children to demonstrate letter recognition and/or review.

Add a challenge by adding a blindfold, tongs, large rubber gloves etc. For advanced learners you could ask them to pick out the letters that spell their name.

Steps: Fill a large container with water, add bubbles and food coloring. Place letters and sea creatures of different sizes in the water. Mix up all contents. Set the timer (usually 2-3 mins). Teams will line up and take turns searching for all letters. Each team member should get one turn per cycle. Continue taking turns until all the letters have been rescued or the time expires. Individuals will follow the same procedures without a timer. Children will create a pile of the letters they rescue. The activity will continue until all letters have been rescued. At the end of the rescue children will count up the total amount of letters they rescued. The child with the most letters wins. This is a great opportunity to introduce graphs and charts to the children.

Equipment Needed: Large container, water, bubbles, food coloring, sea animals, several complete sets of foam letters, and several buckets for letter dumping

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4. Tissue Paper Art: This show the creative mind of the children. Art is a form of expressive language. Through art children can express their emotions, gain fine motor muscle control, and become aware of how shapes and lines can come together to form different designs. This project can be done several different. The following are two of the favorites among children: Bleeding Art: using spray bottle children spray the tissue paper with water and the colors of the tissue paper will stain the paper. Collage Art: using torn pieces of tissue paper and water glue mixture children will create a canvas.


Steps: If the project is done inside prepare the area with newspaper to protect the table for staining. Fill each spray bottle with water. Cut or tear the tissue paper into different sizes and shapes. For Bleeding Art, place several colors of tissue paper on the card stock and use the spray bottle to spray the water on the tissue paper. Remove the tissue paper from the card stock and repeat with other colors. For Collage Art, mix equal parts of glue and water until the mixture is its thinnest form. Place the desired colors of tissue paper on the card stock, use a paint brush to brush a thin layer of the water glue mixture atop of the tissue paper. There may be some bleeding from the tissue paper. Set art aside to dry. Add mod podge to create a canvas type picture.

Equipment Needed: Card stock paper, scissor, paint brushes, glue, water, variety of colored tissue paper (the cheap kind works best for the bleeding art) spray bottles, mod podge {optional)

5. Ice Cube Color Mixing: This is an exciting and fun experiment as children watch water change into its different forms. Children will be able to describe what happens to water when it freezes and when it melts. Children will also get the chance to experiment with color mixing using the 3 primary colors.

Step: Six hours before – mix water with each of the three food colors, pour the mixture in the ice trays and place in the freezer until frozen. Remove from freezer and place colored cubes in large bowls, be sure the colors are separated. Give each child a shallow bowl, discuss what they believe will happen to the ice cubes, allow children to choose 2 different colors to begin, using their hands ask them to rub the ice cubs together (the warmth from their hands will cause the ice to begin melt), a warm metal spoon can also be used to warm the ice. Continue using different color combinations.

Equipment Needed: Several ice cube trays, water, metal spoon, red, blue and yellow food color, shallow bowls.

6. Ping Pong Number Find: This is a fun way to get children counting and recognizing numbers. Children will roll the dice and count the number rolled and grab the ping pong with the correct number on it. This can be played individually or on teams; Individually the child will roll, count, and choose, for team play one child will roll and count and the teammate will find the correct number and place in the bucket.

Steps: Using a permanent marker write one number (0-9) on the ping pongs. You will want to do this on several ping pongs to ensure there are enough that are numbered. Fill container with water, you may add food coloring and bubbles, place ping pongs in the water, younger children can use their hands and older child can use tongs or a large spoon. Children are to roll the dice (either one or both) and count the number rolled, they are to search in the water to find the corresponding number and place it in the bucket. The activity continues until all the ping pongs are out. As an added challenge you can also place blank ping pongs in the water, have the child roll the dice, count the number rolled and count out the number of ping pongs that matches the number rolled. Example: If a child rolls a 3 they will count out 1,2,3 for a total of 3 ping pongs in the bucket.

Equipment Needed: Large container, water, food color, bubbles (optional), tongs, large spoon, large dice, several ping pong balls, permanent marker, and several buckets

7. Sensory Play: Sensory play has many benefits from language development as child care providers help to give children the vocabulary to describe their world to helping children calm by giving them a sensory experience to focus on. Sensory play does not have to involve expensive materials and equipment. Water play can use warm or cool water paired with common items found in the kitchen or from the child’s play area. Do you have dishes, plastic dolls, or cars you can wash in warm sudsy water? Getting outside as the weather turns warmer to make mudpies, plant a garden, or dig in the ground can have calming benefits. Having kids squeeze, sift, and feel a variety of different textured items in a sensory bin or box can be done inside or outside. For those children or providers who do not want the mess try using unmatched socks and filling them with different ingredients that children can squeeze and move through the length of the socks during stressful situations.

Equipment Needed: water, soap, dirt, sand, toys

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Related Articles and Resources:

Interesting Benefits of Water Play in Early Childhood Education
https://www.kidsclubchildcare.com.au/5-benefits-of-water-play-in-early-childhood-development/

The Importance of Experiential Learning in Early Childhood
https://www.melbournechildpsychology.com.au/blog/play-experiential-learning-early-childhood/

Tips for Successful Water Play
http://www.earlychildhoodnews.com/earlychildhood/article_view.aspx?ArticleID=374

Let’s Talk, Read, and Sing about STEM! Tips for Infant/Toddler Teachers and Providers
https://www2.ed.gov/about/inits/ed/earlylearning/talk-read-sing/stem-toolkit-infant-toddler-teachers.pdf

Let’s Talk, Read, and Sing about STEM! Tips for Families with Young Children
https://www2.ed.gov/about/inits/ed/earlylearning/talk-read-sing/stem-toolkit-families.pdf

Let’s Talk, Read, and Sing about STEM! Tips for Pre-School Teachers and Providers
https://www2.ed.gov/about/inits/ed/earlylearning/talk-read-sing/stem-toolkit-preschool-teachers.pdf

Missouri Early Learning Standards
https://dese.mo.gov/early-extended-learning/early-learning/missouri-early-learning-standards   

Information on becoming a Licensed Child Care Provider in Missouri if you care for more than four unrelated children in your home http://health.mo.gov/safety/childcare/licensed.php

Information for becoming a Registered Provider in Missouri if you care for four or less unrelated children in your home
https://dss.mo.gov/cd/child-care/child-care-providers/in-home-child-care-providers.htm

Information for becoming a Licensed Exempt Provider in Missouri
https://dss.mo.gov/cd/child-care/child-care-providers/licensed-exempt-child-care-providers.htm

Sign up for STL Educare trainings http://www.stleducare.org/trainings.html

On-line Resources:

Backyard Car Wash activity for kids https://youtu.be/ekjzbCDhQZo

DIY Sensory Toys and Sensory Play Activities for children with Autism by Fathering Autism https://youtu.be/pZRrNS7kzgo

Sid the Science Kid, Water & Ice Pops https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jqhF4-aEVnk

Sid the Science Kid Episodes and Games http://pbskids.org/sid/

Toddler Activities: Sensory Table Pouring Station & Coloring Ice by WhatsUpMoms https://youtu.be/lX3gNzwSq4M

Teaching Empathy and Positive Decision Making

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Chances are if you have scrolled through your news feed or turned on the television you have either seen bullying, or the effects of bullying.  According to www.keepschoolssafe.org one out of every four elementary aged children is bullied, with 85% of those occurrences receiving no intervention from adults. As early childhood teachers we have the opportunity to teach empathy and positive decision making with children birth through age five so they are better equipped to deal with difficult situations as they enter school.

Bullying, in its most simple form, is when someone uses their strength or position to intimidate or force someone else to do what they want. We talk about it happening child to child, but we rarely have the more difficult discussion about the adult to adult, or adult to child bullying that occurs and models the way people should not treat others.  This month we will focus on techniques to model positive interactions, relationship building, and calming techniques.

Funding for STL Educare is provided by the Missouri Department of Social Services, Children’s Division, Early Childhood and Prevention Services Section

Activities to Build Empathy and Positive Decision Making:

  1. Bonding with your baby: Parenting magazine discusses 12 ways you can bond with the baby starting with reading to and talking to the pre-natal infant, who can hear the world around them, to providing space to allow mother’s to breastfeed, spending time making eye contact, and spending individual time with each baby.

Equipment Needed: https://www.parenting.com/article/12-ways-to-bond-with-your-baby All of the activities can be done with a baby and an adult.  For the breastfeeding area, the mother and child should have a comfortable chair or place to sit with some privacy for feeding and bonding.

  1. Modeling Positive Behavior in the Classroom: The National Education Association shares the techniques of a Master teacher who has taught 6th grade for more than 14 years. While these techniques are being used in a middle school classroom, they are applicable for children of any age.  Khol models positive behavior by talking to students about choices, “thinking out loud” to allow them to see her decision making process, and sharing positive story telling about things she likes to do outside of school and how she applies these same skills in real life situations.

Equipment Needed: http://www.nea.org/tools/52062.htm No special equipment needed.

  1. I speak Up: Inspire Conversation highlights The Cartoon Network’s Stop Bullying: Speak Up Campaign “I Speak Up” that helps kids to recognize signs of bullying and encourages them to speak up when they see it happening.

Equipment Needed: http://inspireconversation.com/will-speak-bullying/ None.

  1. Becky Bailey’s Breathing Techniques: Conscious Discipline teaches children six different breathing techniques they can use when they are scared, or overwhelmed to self-calm. In Becky Bailey’s “I can Calm” book she has pictures to help children remember breathing techniques like STAR “Stop.  Take a deep Breath. And. Relax,” The Pretzel, and Bunny Breathing. Children can use pictures to go through all six techniques or go to their favorite.  Teachers are encouraged to incorporate at least one breathing exercise into their daily routine so children are familiar with them when they need them to self-calm.

Equipment Needed: “I Can Calm” by Becky Bailey, Picture Cards, YouTube videos of the techniques. https://consciousdiscipline.com/free-resources/

  1. Creating a Cozy Area/Safe Place: Just like adults children sometimes need to get away from the bustle of the day and sometimes feel overwhelmed by what is going on in the classroom or in their life. Having a cozy space that only 1 or 2 children can go at a time gives children the opportunity to self-regulate, to think, and work things out.  The place should be out of the hustle and bustle of the classroom, large enough for the child and a friend or adult to talk, and comfortable.  You can add items such as the breathing techniques and other items to help children work through what they are feeling or to destress.

Equipment Needed: Soft pillows, bean bag or something soft to sit on, mat or rug, books, textured items (stress or sensory ball, rain stick, different textured materials, etc.), I Can Calm Book, Becky Bailey Brain Cubes

  1. Progressive Relaxation or “Tense and Relax”: Progressive relaxation helps children focus on how they are feeling from the tips of their toes to the top of their heads and gives them something to focus on as they breathe and work on relaxing the muscles for each area of their body. Therapy with Carolyn has a free and easy progressive relaxation script you can use with young children that she calls “Tense and Relax.” For more information on destressing techniques you can do look for the link to her website in our resource links below.

Equipment Needed: Script for Progressive Muscle Relaxation for Kids

  • Tense your feet by curling your toes…like you’re digging your toes into the sand at the beach. 1…2…3…4…Relax and take a deep breath in and out.
  • Tense your legs by pulling your toes up…like a puppet with its strings being pulled. 1…2…3…4…Relax and take a deep breath in and out.
  • Tense your stomach…and imagine that a puppy was going to step on your stomach. 1…2…3…4…Relax and take a deep breath in and out.
  • Tense your hands by making fists…like you’re trying to squeeze all the juice out of a lemon. 1…2…3…4…Relax and take a deep breath in and out.
  • Tense your arms…like you’re showing off your muscles. 1…2…3…4…Relax and take a deep breath in and out.
  • Tense your shoulders by pulling them up…and imagine that you’re a turtle going into its shell. 1…2…3…4…Relax and take a deep breath in and out.
  • Tense your face by scrunching it up as much as you can. 1…2…3…4…Relax and take a deep breath in and out.
  • 5 senses Mindfulness Exercise: This activity can be done to focus before a test, to bring mindfulness to an experience, or to break out of a moment of depression/anxiety. Take a moment to check in with yourself and how you are reacting to the present moment. Check in with your breath.  Is it fast, slow? Take a deep breath and move on to your other senses.  What do you hear? What can you smell? What do you see? What do you taste? What do you feel (your shoes on your feet, the feel of your feet on the floor, your clothes on your body)? Go back to your breath.  Go through the senses again if you need to and finish with a deep breath.

Equipment Needed: https://www.therapywithcarolyn.com/single-post/2016/06/19/Help-Your-Kids-Calm-Down-Strategy-2-Progressive-Muscle-Relaxation Breath and five senses cards or memory of the technique.

  1. 5 senses Mindfulness Exercise: This activity can be done to focus before a test, to bring mindfulness to an experience, or to break out of a moment of depression/anxiety. Take a moment to check in with yourself and how you are reacting to the present moment. Check in with your breath.  Is it fast, slow? Take a deep breath and move on to your other senses.  What do you hear? What can you smell? What do you see? What do you taste? What do you feel (your shoes on your feet, the feel of your feet on the floor, your clothes on your body)? Go back to your breath.  Go through the senses again if you need to and finish with a deep breath.

Equipment Needed: Breath and five senses cards or memory of the technique. https://www.clayton.edu/Portals/541/docs/Five%20Senses%20Mindfulness%20Exercise.pdf

Related Articles and Resources:

Missouri Early Learning Standards, Social and Emotional Standards Parent Guide https://dese.mo.gov/sites/default/files/eel-el-social-parent.pdf  

Information on becoming a Licensed Child Care Provider in Missouri if you care for more than four unrelated children in your home http://health.mo.gov/safety/childcare/licensed.php

Information for becoming a Registered Provider in Missouri if you care for four or less unrelated children in your home https://dss.mo.gov/cd/child-care/child-care-providers/in-home-child-care-providers.htm

Information for becoming a Licensed Exempt Provider in Missouri https://dss.mo.gov/cd/child-care/child-care-providers/licensed-exempt-child-care-providers.htm

Sign up for STL Educare trainings http://www.stleducare.org/trainings.html