Educational Games for Kids

Summer vacation is winding down and it seems that back to school is seen on the horizon. However, we know that for some there are still a few more weeks of summer break left. 

With these long days of summer still upon us, we understand that children might need some extra activities or things to play with. 

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, “Research demonstrates that developmentally appropriate play with parents and peers is a singular opportunity to promote the social-emotional, cognitive, language, and self-regulation skills that build executive function and a prosocial brain.”

Play is a fundamental aspect of learning for children. There are a lot of options for toys and games that are available for children today. In our classrooms, we have educational toys and games that our students absolutely adore playing with during free time. And we believe it is important to schedule in free play for kids. This is a great time to allow for choices on what games they are interested in. Games are good for imaginative play, reviewing concepts taught, pre-teaching, practicing skills  . . . and for FUN. 

Below are some educational toys that we recommend for children to play with. Many of these games we have or would love to have in our classrooms.

  1. Video Game Creation Kit
  2. Cardboard Tool Kit 
  3. Build Your Own Marble Coaster
  4. Botany Experimental Green-House
  5. Osmo- Genius Kit for iPad
  6. Osmo- Pizza Co. Game
  7. IQ Builder- STEM
  8. Zingo Sight Words Early Reading Game
  9. Money Bags Coin Value Game
  10. Squishy Human Body Anatomy Kit
  11. Magna Tiles- House
  12. Playstix
  13. Plank Set
  14. Brain Blox
  15. Straw Constructor

Games and play are essential for development. It is important to make time for play at home and in the classroom. At times we may prioritize more structured learning, but as we love to bring up, it is all about balance. This type of development is just as important! 

Check out this resource we found on The Power of Play

Got game recommendations? Let us know in the comments below!

Girl Empowerment

In our last post, we shared some of our favorite books that relate to inclusivity and equity. This week we wanted to include even more that relate specifically to girl empowerment. 

Giving young girls of all backgrounds mirrors to see themselves in the books they read is incredibly powerful and empowers them as they grow up.  We feel it will give them confidence to navigate and breakdown the inequities that are a part of society.

As educators and women, we feel that it is important to educate young girls (in age appropriate ways) on some of the things they will encounter in the world. Our hope is that through literature girls will gain the knowledge and tools to overcome adversity and change the systems that exclude people. 

Here are some of our favorite books to empower young girls:

Providing young girls with both fiction and non-fiction books that they can relate to can be such a powerful tool. When a girl can see herself in a story, it can change her life in a beautiful way. Now, more than ever, we need to empower our girls and let them know that they can fight for what they want.

Diverse Books

Last week we offered suggestions for summer reading for children of different ages. This week we wanted to continue our book talk by focusing on diverse and inclusive books for your child. As we wrote last week, summer break offers a nice time to explore and read books with children. 

Diverse books are important for children of all ages. “Multicultural literature serves as a powerful tool in enabling students to gain a better understanding of both their own culture and the cultures of others.” (The importance of multicultural literature

In our classrooms, we learn about and celebrate a variety of cultures, and we often find that our students are incredibly curious and so happy to learn about cultures from all over the world. 

Representation matters. This is especially true for children. When they see themselves in the books that they read, they understand that they matter too. When we see people like ourselves in the media, including in fiction, we get a glimpse of who we might become, and we feel validated. We can gain role models and inspiration through literature (Why Children’s Books that Teach Diversity are More Important than Ever). Reading more diverse books is a great way to open the world up for our children. 

“Multicultural literature can help students develop global awareness by introducing them to current cultural issues” (The importance of multicultural literature). Reading books with our children about things that are happening in the world with appropriate content  is good for them. Adults often think that children cannot handle or understand what is happening in our world, but from what we have seen with our students, they can and their thoughts on these matters are usually incredibly insightful.

In recent years, as more diverse books have been published, we have seen a shift in our classrooms toward more inclusivity and equity among our students. The more we read, talk about, and expose our children to inclusive and diverse books, the more this amazing and wonderful trend will continue to grow. 

Below are some recommendations of inclusive and diverse books for children:

What are some of your favorite books that relate to inclusivity and equity?

Shame, Judgement, and the Comparison Trap

If you haven’t heard of Brené Brown, google her (after you are done reading this of course). She is a shame researcher who has a famous TED talk, has written several books, and recently released a Netflix special. One of the things that she discusses is shame that parents experience. Parent shaming is a real thing and it has to stop. We see parent shaming online, we see it in our schools, we see it at the grocery store, we see it on planes, and we see it in restaurants. There are many parenting styles and you don’t have to agree with all of them, but can we stop judging each other for every little thing?

While we love to give advice and tips on specific areas of raising balanced children in the 21st century, we never want to come off like we are shaming people. Our main advice is always balance. Balance means you do what you can when you can. We find that along with shame are judgment and comparison.  Neither of these are good for your health or your family’s health.

Let’s start off by talking about judgement. It is easy to judge other people. Especially if you don’t know what their day has been like. If a child is throwing a tantrum in a store, most people will immediately judge the parent for it. However, we do not know what the situation is. Perhaps the child missed their nap, maybe they are sick, or just maybe they are a child with special needs. Kids also have a mind of their own and can sometimes be unpredictable. We do not know, so we must not judge.

Shaming a parent is when you put your judgment into action and decide you want to give a parent a look, a piece of your mind, make passive aggressive comments, or even talking behind their back. Your intention is to make them feel like they are doing a bad job, being a bad parent, or have something to be ashamed of.

Before judging a parent (or anyone really) ask yourself these questions:

  • Do I know them or their situation?
  • Am I trying to help them or shame them?
  • Does it affect me?
  • Do I have good intentions?

“Comparison is the thief of joy.”

The other side of judgement and shame is comparing yourself to other people. In the age of social media, we are all bombarded on a daily basis by perfection. People most often will post and share the perfect moments in their lives. The idyllic family hike, the children baking, or siblings playing happily. What is not seen are the fights, the mess, the arguments and struggles that are a part of real life. And yet, the perfection is what we compare our lives to. We feel less than because our house is a mess, we aren’t hiking, and the cake is store bought.

If you are feeling less than, then perhaps take time away from social media. Take your family to the park to play, order a pizza and have a family night in, or have game night with your children. Remind yourself that “This too shall pass,” that the messy, crazy, and hard parts of parenting are only temporary, that no family is perfect, and that all of it is okay.

We as a society have to take the mantel for ending parent shaming and judgement. It is up to us to model for our children to respect and accept others.

Happy Summer!

This post goes out to teachers everywhere! Congrats on another year in the classroom. Whether it is your first year teaching or your 20th year, you deserve great appreciation for a year spent teaching and encouraging children. It is no easy task to be responsible for the learning and well being of other people’s children. Thank you for all you do!

The end of the year brings many things, including end of the year gratitude from parents and students. Take in that gratitude, it is well earned and well deserved! You might even want to save some of these cards and words of encouragement to take out and read when you are having a tough day as a reminder of why you continue to teach. You may realize that a child or parent that seemed to be really challenging throughout the year, really is grateful for all you have done. That is the best feeling when you know you have reached someone.

We have some advice for when you finish closing out yet another school year: ENJOY YOUR SUMMER!!!  You have definitely earned it.

Dear teachers, as best as you can, leave school work aside this summer, put your long to-do list on hold, it will still be there in August. You need this time to rejuvenate and do all the things you don’t have time for during the school year.

Our Advice for a Successful Summer:

  1. Do what you want
  2. Put yourself first
  3. Spend time with people that lift you up
  4. Get outdoors
  5. Exercise
  6. Read for fun
  7. Take naps
  8. Go on a trip
  9. Hike
  10. Go to the beach
  11. Explore your city
  12. Meet friends for lunch
  13. Do something creative
  14. Go to a comedy show
  15. Visit a museum

However you choose to spend your time this summer, just know that your value is not tied to how productive you are. Remember that when you start to feel bad about spending all day at the beach, by a pool, or with a good book in hand. Remember that when your mind is telling you, you aren’t a good teacher if you don’t completely have your next school year planned out before school even begins. Give yourself this time to be you, do you, focus on you. Taking time for yourself this summer will ultimately lead to a better, more balanced person, and teacher. Give yourself permission to just enjoy the beautiful moments that summer brings!

It is easy to think that because teachers have summer vacation off, that they don’t work hard. It should be highlighted that educators need the summer to recharge in order to do all that they do with love and enthusiasm for their students.

Avoid Summer Panic

It’s that time again where school is wrapping up and summer is knocking on the front door. Don’t let the end of school year panic get you! The end of the school year is full of exciting events such as open houses, field day, yearbook signing and graduations or promotions. It is also a time for transition. Transitions can be a scary time for some. Feelings of uncertainty and anxiety can arise when the unknown is upon us.

These feeling are true for both students and parents. You have become accustomed to the teacher, classroom, and routines of the grade, and in a few months you will have a new teacher with all the newness that comes along with a new grade. It is often around this time of year that teachers will begin receiving emails from parents asking for a meeting to discuss the next year.

Questions parents often have:

  • Is my child ready for the next grade?
  • Were they challenged enough this year?
  • Should I get tutoring over the summer?
  • What camp should I send them to?
  • Will they have friends in their class next year?
  • Who will be their teacher next year?
  • How did the year go by so fast?
  • How will I keep my child engaged this summer?

If you find these questions start popping up in your mind, that is normal. Transitions can leave you feeling powerless because you don’t have all the answers. We’re here to say that it is all going to be okay!


If you find these questions start popping up in your mind, that is normal. Transitions can leave you feeling powerless because you don’t have all the answers. Parents and guardians want the best for their children. They want to make sure that they will be able to transition an have a successful year. We’re here to say that it is all going to be okay!

As teachers we have the opportunity to see children transition into new grades every year. We’ve been in education long enough now to have the pleasure and opportunity to see our past students grow up, transition into high school, and even enter and graduate from college. We have seen a many children in our classrooms with a variety of learning styles, challenges, and successes and every single one of them have transitioned, matured, grown up, and learned in school. And while we cannot say that these students road was 100% perfect, we can say that they are doing well and thriving in their own unique ways. Which is why we would like to say to parents of elementary school age children, “Everything is going to be ok!”

We’d like to offer some advice for parents and guardians, in case you begin to feel anxious about the end of the year and transition into the next grade.

What to do:

  • Let your child be where they are. Had there been any challenges or issues their teacher would have already met with you about it.
  • Be proud that your child learned so much in another school year.
  • Look at the maturity and growth of the whole child that occurred during the whole year, not just academics
  • Ask the teacher if there is anything that your child should review over summer. This could something simple, but it could also be nothing at all and that is totally fine too.
  • Enjoy the rest and relaxation that comes with summer vacation.

What not to do:

  • DON’T wait till the end of the year to bring up a year long issue for the first time
  • DON’T put your child in summer tutoring unless it is actually needed or it is a passion for them
  • DON’T compare your child’s progress to others
  • DON’T gossip about which teachers are “good” or “bad”
  • DON’T believe other people’s experience with a certain teacher, you might have a completely different one

Endings and transitions can be anxiety provoking. The end of a school year panic is real, and we completely understand these feelings. However, as parents and guardian try to trust that the teachers and the school have your child’s best interest in mind. While you have a sun-filled summer vacation, the school and faculty will make sure that the transition into the following year is smooth and successful!

Teacher Appreciation Week

This week is Teacher Appreciation week! Appreciation of the hard work that teachers do every day is near and dear to our hearts. Teachers are doing very important work in society, and often can feel undervalued and overwhelmed. While it would be ideal to appreciate teachers all year long, it is nice to have a reminder and an entire week dedicated to appreciating teachers.

Ultimately the best way that society can appreciate teachers is with:

1) Support for students

2) Respectable compensation

2) Smaller class sizes

3) Resources and supplies for classes

4) Societal respect

These are our hopes and dreams for the teaching profession! We understand that these might be a bit difficult to accomplish this week, but a teacher can dream! We hope that one day teachers all over the country have these things.

But seriously, we thought we would offer some realistic ways to appreciate the teacher in your life this week.

1) A handwritten card from students

2) Small treats to keep in the desk

3) Coffee or tea

4) Flowers for their desks

5) Verbal affirmation or a positive email

6) A positive email to their supervisor

7) A bottle of wine

These are all little things that go a long way in making a teacher feel appreciated and supported. While we keep fighting for the top four, it is good to feel like we have people supporting and appreciating the work we do!
We also found this great resource with everything you need to appreciate your teachers or even plan events to appreciate teachers at your school!