Seedlings NJ

nurturing children from birth through five years old

Catching snowflakes on your tongue…Racing downhill on a sled…Sipping hot cocoa with hands thawed under running water…Snuggling under blankets while inhaling the scent of a new book…Crunching footsteps marking a new trail to a familiar place…

The first snowfall is thrilling for children, who don’t have the worries of stockpiling food, filling the gas tank, checking flashlight batteries, or shoveling sidewalks. Children fall asleep in one world and awaken in another. Snowy days can be a wonderful time to reconnect with the magic and fun of childhood.

Here are some of the ways we like to enjoy the frosty days of winter:

Curl up with the classics. This list of snowy tales perfectly captures the anticipation and joy of the first snow fall. Read aloud to your children, and share memories of your own favorite snow days. Inspire a love of literature with these poems that everyone in the family can appreciate. Don’t worry that your children are too young to understand poetry. Ask them how they feel when they hear the words, what images come to mind, or what sounds they hear. Children are naturally well-tuned to respond to the rhythm of poetry.

Start a new tradition. Many adults recall their childhood through memories of beloved traditions. Check out this fun recipe for Snowman Soup that you can make with your children. It is a fun way to thaw tiny hands after building their first snowman.

Get crafty. Go outside with your little ones and collect small branches, pine needles, and berries to make a frozen winter sun catcher. Gather up some beads and ingredients from your kitchen to make this adorable snowflake garland. Don’t be afraid to get messy! Mix glitter, shaving cream, and paint to create your own winter wonderland on paper.

Blind them with science. Grow your own ice.  Make your own  crystals. You can also create a frozen bubble (one of our favorite activities at Seedlings last winter!). Explore the magic of freezing and melting as you play in your indoor “snow kitchen” using pans, utensils, and measuring cups.

Follow us on Pinterest for more snow day fun. Whatever you decide to do, your children will remember the love and sense of wonder you share with them. Happy Snow Day!


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Inviting Us In

“If you are a dreamer come in.
If you are a dreamer, a wisher, a liar,
A hope-er, a pray-er, a magic-bean-buyer…
If you’re a pretender, come sit by my fire,
For we have some flax golden tales to spin.
Come in!
Come in!”

“Invitation” by Shel Silverstein

The classrooms are filled with the crinkling sounds of crumpled butcher paper. Flashes of sunlight bounce off of staplers wildly fixing schedules, name tags, and “welcome” signs to the walls. The smell of crayons and freshly sharpened pencils fills the rooms. The teachers are ready for a new school year.

New outfits, carefully selected, are laid out at the foot of the bed. Family photos are stashed in backpacks. Morning alarms are re-set, a stern reminder that the lazy days of summer are over. The parents are ready for a new school year.

 Children play in the yard, running and laughing until they are called inside for dinner. Bath, books, and bed time follow, maybe slightly earlier than usual. They fall asleep ready (or not) for the first day of school.

Adults and children alike bring many expectations to the beginning of a new school year. We may be aware of some, but many remain unspoken. There are questions, fears, or things we’re looking forward to. In that moment when we walk through the classroom door, we bring all of it with us. And in the preschool classroom, all of it is welcome.

Our teachers are ready to meet whatever feelings and personalities arrive at the doorstep at the start of the school year. While our classrooms and teachers welcome students, we also remember that the reverse invitation is offered. Our students also welcome us into their lives. They let us know about their families and friends, about their summer travels, and their favorite foods. They show us their favorite toys, talk about special books, and draw pictures depicting their inner worlds.  There is something very magical about the start of each school year, as a special bond develops between teachers and students as these first few weeks unfold.

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Easing the Transition

Starting school or transitioning to a new classroom is a major milestone for children and parents. It can be both fun and stressful. It is not uncommon to experience a wide range of feelings, sometimes within the same day. Parents may notice changes in a child’s sleep patterns, bathroom habits, or emotional responses. Children often become clingy, or revert to earlier stages of development. In most cases, this is a short phase, and children will return to their former selves once they have processed some of the changes.

Parents have the opportunity to influence their child’s experience through preparation and communication. Here are some suggestions for how parents can support their child through a transition:

  • Talk to your child about what to expect at school: activities (circle time, playground, lunch, nap), the toys, and the other children
  • Let your child know it’s OK to feel nervous or excited, or even confused about starting school, and try to reassure him/her
  • Give your child a family picture or familiar object from home that will comfort him/her
  • Remind your child that you will be back later. It is crucial for children to hear the message that “Mommy and Daddy always come back”
  • Talk to your child’s teacher to make a plan for drop-off

Children may find comfort on some familiar books that address the challenges and fears of starting school. Here are some of our favorites:

  • The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn
  • Will I Have a Friend? by Miriam Cohen
  • Timothy Goes to School by Rosemary Wells
  • Mouse’s First Day of School by Lauren Thompson
  • My First Day at Nursery School by Becky Edwards
  • Do I Have to Go to School? by Pat Thomas

Our teachers can be a very valuable resource, and we want you to know that we are here to work with your whole family to support you through this transition. Every child goes through the separation process on his/her own timeline. With patience and reassurance, each child will have an exciting and rewarding school experience.

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Saying Goodbye on the First Day of School

Separation can be a complex and emotional time for children and their parents. Some children say goodbye on the first day of school and never look back. Others seem fine at first, but experience feelings of anxiety or sadness weeks after they begin school. Still others seem as though they will never be OK without a parent nearby. Parents may also experience mixed feelings: excitement, sadness, concern. It’s important to remember that the feelings and the process may differ from family to family, but the goal of having our children feel safe and secure when saying goodbye, is one we all share.

What allows children to gently move into a new environment is a feeling of connectedness. This connection can be with a teacher, other children, or an object in the classroom. Teachers and parents can help establish this connection. Bringing a family picture or a “lovie” (blanket, soft toy) to keep in the cubby helps some children. Sometimes, handing your child something from your purse or your pocket to keep until you return, can be reassuring.

The decision of when to leave should be made by the parent, with the teacher’s help. The most important thing is to always say goodbye before leaving. Although it might seem that sneaking out will be less painful for the child, the opposite is usually true. A child may not let his/her parent out of sight if s/he feels that the parent may disappear at any time.

Our experience is that a brief goodbye with the reassurance that the parent will return, works best for most children. Reassure your child that the teachers are there to take care of him/her. Teachers will give children snack, help them in the bathroom, and comfort them when they cry. This helps teachers establish a secure and trusting attachment with their students.

Saying goodbye but not leaving can be confusing for children. They may pick up on a parent’s ambivalence and feel more nervous. They may wonder if they truly can trust the teacher. So when you say goodbye, mean it. Teachers are prepared to comfort a crying child, or help an angry child find a positive outlet for their feelings after a parent leaves. The office is always open to help a sad, crying or anxious parent, too! Feel free to call the school during the day to check on your child. Separation can be a very emotional experience, and at Seedlings, we are here to help your family through it!

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Playing is how babies learn about the world around them.They are learning through all of their senses while playing with a variety of things.We believe in free play so each individual child can learn at their own pace and with things that are interesting to them at different stages of development.
We provide open-ended objects for them to explore.Open-ended objects don’t come with directions on how to use them and they don’t have any right way to use them. Children don’t need any help or direction on how to use them. They have to use their senses to explore.
Balls are a good example of open-ended items. There is no one way to play with balls.We can taste them, roll them, throw them , bounce them, play catch.  We can try to sit on larger balls and see if we can balance! Another thing that we love is to throw them into a basket and then dump it!
Boxes are also lots of fun. We can climb in or turn it upside down and try to climb on top.We can hide in the box from our friends, then pop out giggling! We can climb inside and pretend we are  on a train ride! Choo-choo!!
We recently had a great time exploring  Easter grass. It was placed on the floor in a bowl. They looked at it , then touched it , then smelled it (it smelled like vanilla) and then we tasted it and pulled it apart, throwing it everywhere! Great fun!!
A cardboard tube has many ways to play. We can peek through it, using it as a telescope or we can yell into it making quite a racket! How about taking a small ball to roll through it, seeing it disappear and than reappear at the end!
Bowls and containers with wooden spoons can occupy a little one the whole time you are trying to make dinner!
I never tire of observing the new ways that the children will find for these objects So next time your kids seem bored with their toys look around the house for some of these things to spark their imagination! Remember what it was like when you were little and you would build a tent out of blankets and the tons of fun you had!
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Responsibility…..what is responsibility? Can 4 and 5 year olds have responsibility? How do we teach responsibility? We actually teach and encourage responsibility everyday in our classroom. We as teachers play an important role in teaching how one becomes responsible personally, interpersonally, at home and in the community. The word “responsible”has been coming up a lot throughout our very busy days recently. I had mentioned the word “responsible” last week during our morning meeting and we talked about how it is their job to be responsible for all their personal belongings such as their water bottles, their work and putting away their materials when they are finished using them.   Now I hear my friends telling their friends, “it is your responsibility to put your water bottle in the basket.”

Blossoms have been given a very important job with a lot of responsibility. In our aftercare program, blossoms will lend a helping hand to our friends in Little Buds. Each of them have been assigned a friend or two. Their responsibility duties include helping their friend out during clean up time by showing/assisting them where the toys go or how we put them away, being a friend that they can look up to, being kind, and working together as a team. These are the ideas that the Blossoms class came up with and they are very eager to help their friends and take on this responsibility. There are many advantages that are to come out of this and we are all eager to see how the older ones will become amazing role models for our Little Buds.

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Mistakes. We tell our children that it’s ok to make a mistake, but are we conveying that message when we make a mistake? When we make a wrong turn, do we get frustrated, or do we say “whoops, I went the wrong way, I guess I’ll turn around.”? When we drop a glass and it breaks, do we react with anger,or do we say “oh, it looks like I should be more careful. Please stay back while I clean up.”? We accept the mistakes our children make with ease and encourage them to look at why the mistake happened and how they can make changes, but we don’t often allow that of ourselves. While I would like to say that I always react with calmness and patience, truthfully I know I don’t. Which is why, one of the most important lessons a child can learn is resilience. Accepting mistakes, and realizing that sometimes, something better can actually come from a mistake.

Just last week, we learned this very important lesson in our classroom. I was mixing up a batch of puffy paint using shaving cream and glue. Puffy paint is one of those magical things that every child enjoys playing with and it is definitely a favorite in our classroom. We were going to use puffy paint to make rain clouds on one of the many rainy days we had last week. At the last second, I decided to use black finger paint instead of black watercolor to make our clouds gray. Once I started mixing, I knew it was a mistake. The mixture was not puffy paint at all, but a big sticky mess!

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I commented, “oops, I mixed that wrong. I guess that wasn’t a good choice. I’ll have to try it again.” Three or four children were watching me mix the “paint” and for some reason we decided I should keep mixing instead of throwing it out.  After another minute, something happened and our big sticky mess turned into wonderful, stretchy, slime. Slime that was so perfect, you could stretch and stretch, and it didn’t break. Slime that didn’t stick to the table or our clothes, but was perfect for poking, cutting, or just playing with.

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Slowly more students came over and they each wanted their own slime. By the time I was finished, we had a whole batch of beautiful, stretchy, gray slime.

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When we were done playing with the slime that morning, I told the class that we could make the clouds another day. I remember thinking how even though the day didn’t go as planned, it actually turned out to be a great lesson because we turned a mistake into something positive. Sitting here reflecting on this experience, I realize that we never did end up making the rain clouds…but we have played with the  slime every day!

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