5 Ways to Encourage Diversity in Your Household



In my household it is very important to show my children diversity in everything that we do.  Most times when this task is left up to society, a culture gets lost and stereotypes are created and assumptions are made, which most times can trigger hidden racism.

Children are exposed to much more than I was as a child. With the media and how information is delivered it is hard to shield our children from real life, which in some cases means answering the hard questions.

A fellow blogger wrote an article about empowering our children so they are prepared for what they see and what they read. He made the case that the days of banning our children from television and movies are over and that instead of hiding and “protecting” them from these inaccurate tidbits they may experience from society, prepare them.

Your household is the only place where you have control over what your children see and sometimes do.

So how do you prepare them or how do you teach them that the world is made of different people from different backgrounds with different goals and expectations. In school they teach tolerance, a word I despise. In my household I teach my children acceptance.  They will meet people from all walks of life in the journey of growth, a persons character should stand out above any physical characteristic.

So how do I encourage diversity in my household

  • When I purchase books I make sure to buy books with characters from all different backgrounds. I love to read a book to my child and it relates to what they experience in school or a household with different traditions.  It is great to read books with different languages incorporated in the storylines or books that encourage self-esteem and self-worth. There are books that are more mainstream than the diverse books, and sometimes I am irritated with the idea of teachers and schools referencing the same books that I grew up on, but I just make sure to give my children that hidden factor, and that is that the world is made of different people of different backgrounds and they should know what that looks like.
  • I purchase or listen to music of all genres.  Now some music of course is completely inappropriate for children, but they do have music that is specifically for kids and the genre of music ranges from rap to country, from classical to pop. Nothing will ever compete with Disney or their all time favorite Annie, but I am able to slip in new music often.
  • Movies, I have to search high and low for diverse movies, but I have been quite successful, because of streaming movie services like Netflix. I am not fond of television these days, if the shows are not inappropriate the commercials are.  I find I am able to monitor and limit those embarrassing moments more when the kids are enjoying monitored movie time with Netflix.
  • Toys are another way I can encourage diversity.  I buy dolls of all nationalities and shades of color.  In my household Barbie has many looks.  I love the dolls they have that represent places like Kenya, India, Russia, or Mexico. The clothing brings up great conversations and the books and short bios that accompany the dolls are great for discussion which triggers a curiosity I love to see in my children. Just recently I went to the store and saw a new brand of dolls called Fashionistas.  These dolls came in different ethnic types, but they also came in different body types. That had a doll that was petite, one that was curvy, one that was tall, one with natural curly hair, one that was thin, and one that was short. These dolls were perfect images of what are children see everyday.
  • I also encourage diversity when we do family art and craft projects together. This is not often, but every now and then I will get an idea from something they learned in school or something I saw researching activities for my students. Every year at the school I work at we do Passport Across the World.  I love this theme because it gives me the opportunity to teach about other cultures and also to learn things I did not know.  I bring my work home and with my children we make cultural pieces. Just to name a couple we have made Japanese windsocks, African necklaces, and Australian boomerangs.

I am sure there are so many other ways to bring diversity into the home or just build discussion around learning about other cultures.  This breaks barriers and dismisses stereotypes, which for our children as well as ourselves it is important.




Paper Books vs Digital Books

As father as son.

Ok, so this has been a topic of discussion among myself and other moms and teachers, what is better paper or digital books?

About two months ago I started a six month subscription to the new Netflix of books, Epic. Now when I first read about the program, I was completely and utterly super excited to have all these books right at the touch of a computer or tablet button.  Reading has never been something that I have had to beg my kids to do, but making time for the library and bookstore has in the past been a problem.  I shared with my kids how great it was going to be and how they did not have to nag me about getting them to the library or bookstore and that library fees would be a thing of the past.  Well they pointed three things out to me when I shared this news.

  1. We tried this before with the Amazon Fire, and after about two weeks they were bored with the device and they never had the books that they wanted as part of the free lending library.
  2. They always have to wait until someone else was finished with the tablet before they could use it and by then they are already engaged in something else.
  3. They need to have books that they can physically carry around because in school they allow them time to read during the school day and books come in handy on bad weather days when recess is indoors.

So they had completely killed my happiness, and I begged them to find the enjoyment in this and share in my excitement for books on hand.

Well fast forward to current day and they have maybe used the digital library at their fingertips ten times.

As a prek teacher I thought this would solve my problems as well, but trying to read from a digital device to a class of 16 kids who complain about not being able to see or wanting to touch or hold the device was not the happiness I was looking for.

Now when it is time to read a story to my littlest one I enjoy using the tablet because I can find stories that can be read to you and those that are interactive. Those moments are like having a book come to life, which is why all the books I have written have been digital. I love the idea of watching a book come to life.

Now I will admit that paper books are still my first love.  My husband built me this massive bookshelf and all of my books still do not fit.  I love the covers of books, feeling the pages of old books, the smell of new books, and being able to highlight special parts or quotes in books.

Long story short, I love them both, and I think that they are both great depending on how you use them and their purpose.  For adults pictures and animation may not be as important and convenience may be the deciding factor, but for kids a variety of both, I feel works.

I find my kids sometimes reading blogs that are stories that continue daily or weekly and they are satisfied with that.  When they have the need to hold a book and read at school or elsewhere they have their paper book.

There is room for both in my home, what about yours?

Why is friendship so important?

Happy group of children

As a parent and an early childhood educator I have watched how friendships evolve and how they don’t.  I have been a child once who dreaded the whole “friendship” equation when I entered a new school, new classroom, or new program of any sort. As an adult making friends is still a topic that makes me uncomfortable.  When I start a new job or join the PTO I wonder who will be nice to me and who will treat me like an outsider.

I watch my children go through the anxiety of friendships and their meanings.  I hear the moaning of “I don’t have any friends” or “I wish my friends were better friends”.  Yes, to hear my children speak of loneliness and friendship does bother me, but I had to find a way to take some of the power of friendship away.  Children in general put so much of themselves and their self-worth in friendships and how others perceive them, that I had to put a stop to it.

I tell every new group of children that enter my classroom that we are all friends in this classroom.  We will all learn to depend and uplift each other through our group experiences and when we are exploring things as partners.  Everyone has a mind of their own and the ability to make choices that are comfortable for them.  We do not exclude others and we do not judge one another.  We are all new to this classroom and we are all excited and anxious about the opportunity to create and build friendships.

Classroom Activities that build friendships

I have group time in the morning and in the afternoon. My group time is my students time to share with each other the things that make them special. The seating arrangement changes daily and the topic changes daily. We ask questions, make comments, and challenge each other.  Sometimes I may have those who are quieter than others partner up with a more talkative child and encourage them to learn three new things about their partner.  In the afternoon group time I ask tough questions, like what was something that upset you today, was their something that you did that you would have done differently, did you make a new connection today, or simply is their someone in the class you would like to get to know better.  I don’t see this as forcing a friendship, because I am offering opportunities that sometimes won’t come around because let’s be honest it is not an important factor in education.  Social/emotional goes out the window once a child enters elementary school, without those in charge realizing how much it is needed throughout a child’s time in school and beyond.

I offer partner projects and small group projects, but I give each child their job within the group.  I usually ask the quieter ones to take on a leadership position and the more outgoing ones to learn to take direction and maybe even learn how to listen to others.

I have game days, which allow group interaction and fun all rolled up into one.

I bring in a box of art and craft material and have the students build me something.  Some days I give them the object and other days I ask them to use their imagination.

We pretend to explore media. We interview each other, we create forums, pretend to do a talk show, create a panel of “experts” to try foods or gadgets and give their opinions.

We work together to create our classroom newsletter.  Each child contributes in some way, but because of the time constraints this is done once a month.  Believe it or not it is one of the things they look forward too.

I offer after school and weekend physical activity group play.  We may play a friendly game of volleyball, soccer, or anything that requires us to work as a team.

I know you are probably thinking, where is the time for all of this. You find the time, you make time, because it is important. It teaches something that children are lacking and that is empathy. We live in a society that does not encourage face to face interaction and where children, and adults for that matter, hide behind computers and social media. Friendships are lost and new ones are not created purely, but with the possibility of fakeness.

These activities are possible with all age groups from Pre-k up.  You can tweak them to fit your group and make the time for interactions that are positive and life changing.

As far as my kids

I tell my kids not to put so much effort into asking the question of why they don’t have friends.

I encourage them to join groups or clubs that interest them and create real life interactions with those that share their interests.

I create opportunities for them, by allowing them to have small gatherings or parties (paint parties, craft parties, pinterest parties,etc…) and invite their classroom or a small group of kids from school.

I try and get to know other parents who have children that are my children’s age, by attending school meetings, join school organizations, participating in different school activities, and meeting others in the neighborhood.

I remind my children that friendships will come and go, the ones that are the strongest will stay, but the joy of it all is meeting new people throughout life who contribute something to your life for a moment or even a lifetime. It is not everything, and sometimes you have to open yourself up to the idea of meeting new people.

Never forget that your family can also be your closest friends.



15 Ways to put the fun back into painting

Mother Painting Picture With Daughter At Home

In my household we love to paint.  During the winter and spring months we do most of our painting projects, because these are the times when the weather does not allow for outdoor fun.  After so many months of painting, we had to think of different tools around the house to use to put the excitement back into painting.

  1. Painting with brushes of course – small brushes, big brushes, paint rollers, and brushes with different textures.

  2. Painting with kitchen utensils – Grab some spoons, forks, sporks, and serving utensils. Spatulas, whisk, and mashers are also fun kitchen utensils to paint with.

  3. Painting with toys – Grab toy cars, game pieces, dolls, and blocks. The make the coolest designs.

  4. Painting with nuts and bolts – Step into the garage and help your little one safely find nuts and bolts to paint with. They make the best designs.

  5. Painting with blocks – If you have the small alphabet wooden blocks you will love how they turn painting into a learning moment. Large wooden blocks also work with the project and blocks that come in different shapes.

  6. Painting with nature – Outside houses many different types of leaves and flowers that offer depth when painting, smearing, or stamping with them.  Sticks and pinecones are also great painting tools.

  7. Painting with play jewelry – The dollar store sells those cool colorful necklaces and rings that have your child thinking outside the box when using them as painting tools. They create patterns of different sorts and many creative opportunities.

  8.  Painting with food – How fun to grab different vegetables and fruits to use as painting tools.  Celery makes beautiful flowers and apples create beautiful designs.

  9. Painting with yarn – This can be a challenging painting tool but it helps build strength in fingers for writing.

  10. Painting with feathers – Feathers are soft and have a stiff stem down the middle, they create soft lines when using them as painting tools.

  11. Painting with party supplies – It’s a party. Try using horns, party blowers, and party hats as painting tools.  Make it more exciting by blowing the horn through the paint and onto the paper.

  12. Painting with pipe cleaners – Pipe cleaners have so many craft uses. You can bend and twist pipe cleaners to create eclectic paintings.

  13. Painting with marbles – This should be a supervised painting activity, because marbles are choke hazards. If you put a piece of paper in a shoe box and place marbles dipped in paint in the shoe box, you can close the shoebox up and let them shake shake shake.

  14. Painting with ice – Tricky but doable. Freeze colored water and when nice and solid let your child go crazy with rubbing that colored ice around the paper.

  15. Painting with body parts – I love watching the kiddos paint with their fingers, hands, feet, toes, and even their noses. It creates the most unique paintings.


I Support HomeSchooling!


It’s almost that time.  The first day of school is right around the corner?  It is time to make the decision to home school or register your child for traditional schooling.

Times have changed and there is a tremendous amount of support and resources for families who have made the decision to homeschool.

I have been in education for over 15 years and I continue to educate myself on new practices for teaching and how children learn.  I have taught in many diverse settings and I have worked with children who are exceptional learners and those who are challenged in some areas.

Being a parent of a child with special needs has really taught me how to focus on the big picture when making decisions for my child.  How will this benefit her in the long run.  I do take into account the things she needs now, but when being faced with the decision to enter her into traditional schooling or homeschool her, it was simple for me.

I watched the progress my child made when preparing her for kindergarten and I knew that she needed more.

  • She needed more one on one.
  • She needed her own space to grow.
  • She was not ready for a long structured day.
  • She needed more discipline.
  • Her fear of crowds needed more attention.
  • Her ability to be independent needed more time to develop.
  • She just needed more time.

I thought about all these things, but I did not want to hold her back another year before starting kindergarten so I made the choice to homeschool her and prepare her for 1st grade.

When making that decision, I made that decision knowing that I would need to quit my job as a pre-k teacher and give this 100%.  I have homeschooled my other children for preschool, kindergarten, and 1st and 2nd grade.  I made these decisions based on their needs.  Some families choose to homeschool their children for all of their school years, but I know that is not realistic for my family.

So the next step is preparing for this journey, that I love to take with my children.  Not only does it give me an opportunity to teach them at their pace, it creates a bond that carries on for years.  I look at my 21 year old today and I say to myself “wow, she has grown to be one smart cookie, I did ‘t damage her, I played a part in helping her grow.” That makes me feel good, to know I was in a position to do that.

Now I’m sure we all have our reasons for homeschooling, but the most important reason has to be helping your child reach their goals academically, socially, and mentally.

I set goals that are realistic for my family and grow as they grow.  I have designed a program that aids in homeschooling your child, if the need is there.  It is a resource that’s designed for teaching preschool and kindergarten and it can be altered to fit your child’s level.  The release date for Pre-k/Kindergarten Homeschool Curriculum will be released in 10 days, just in time for preparing your child and keeping them on track with traditional schooling.

Although my goal is for my child to enter traditional schooling, that may not be the case for others, but this resource is for whatever route you decide to take.

Who doesn’t enjoy a good story time

As I have said many times before we love reading in this household.  We read everything, and because of my constant encouragement my older children must have subtitles on while watching a movie.

We are a bit excessive, I will admit, but we have the advantage of living through someone else’s life for at the minimum thirty minutes a day.

I like to mix my story time up with my younger children, so I have come up with 5 fun ways to tell stories.  I never tell them which activity I will do, and I try not to repeat stories, but sometimes by request I do.

                        I tell stories by using books

Virtual Children's Book Club

Image taken from the book “Middle Child Luck” available on iTunes for $1.99.

I tell stories this way most of the time, but I try to read different types of books.  Books with colorful vivid pictures, funny chapter books, lift up the flap books, solve the mystery books, books with sounds, books for the Kindle, and books for the iDevices.

I tell stories by using my imagination

Mail Attachment

I love making up stories.  The story changes all the time.  I tell funny stories, stories with a lesson at the end, crazy stories, fantasies, stories that don’t make sense, and loving stories.  They never know what they are going to get.  The stories can sometimes become to long or most times to short (when it’s told at bedtime).

I like the children to tell me stories also.  They are getting pretty good at telling stories.  They are so good we are working on a storybook of bedtime tales.  I often times record their stories and use the recording to tell their story on another day or night.  I love these moments, it really encourages them to use their imaginations and free their minds.


I tell stories by using the felt/magnet board

Felt Board Winter Wonderland

When working I often use this little nifty tool to tell the story and allow my students to use their imaginations for what I can’t show on the felt board. This is a great way to change some of the dialogue in stories that we have come to love, like; Cinderella, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, The Three Bears, and The Three Little Pigs. Can you imagine the three little pigs have houses made of paper, popsicle sticks, and rocks.  I do the same for my kiddos at home. When I grab the felt board they know they are in for a treat.  Sometimes I ask them to fill in the blanks. I would say “What was the the three bears eating?” and they would say silly things like chips, candy, or worms.  I would have my basket of felt pieces and cut up a new image right there on the spot. The same goes for my magnet board. I have printed and colored images from the computer and put a magnet strip on the back after laminating.  I seldom get a chance to do this for a bed time story, because it does get the kids excited instead of sleepy, but it is a great way to engage them and spend time with them before bedtime.

I tell stories by drawing

St. Patrick's Day story

During my first year of teaching I learned this little trick.  I did not have the book “The Hungry Caterpillar” by Eric Carle so I had to improvise. As I told the story from memory I drew the pictures on the dry erase board.  The kids thought it was great, which encouraged me to make up stories using the same method.  I have created many children’s books using this form of story telling.  When reading to my little ones I am quick to grab a sheet of paper and allow them to narrate the story while I draw or vice versa.  This is one my favorite story telling methods, because we let our imaginations run free.  I have a special binder that I keep all of our stories and when I pull them out we create new stories using the same pictures.

I tell stories with puppets


Once upon a time we ventured into making homemade puppets for my home daycare program.  I have shared a picture of this venture, and I must say I am a little proud of myself. Anyway I would use the puppets as a way to encourage language with my students who need help with expressing themselves or those who were shy. I eventually began have puppet shows for my currently enrolled children and others in the neighborhood. When I started working full-time outside the home I retired the puppets. Bedtime story telling had once again needed a fresh approach to storytelling, so I pulled the puppets back out.  I used the puppets to either tell the story or as a character in the story.  My little one looks forward to hearing from Lacey and Macey the twin puppets who disagrees with each other on everything.  It adds laughs and encourages discussion.  Believe it or not this form of storytelling puts her to sleep faster than any of the others.