10 Ways to Make your House as Cool as a Children’s Museum

10 Ways to Make your House as Cool as a Children’s Museum!

When a child enters a Children’s Museum, they immediately understand that the space is for them! How? Objects are presented low to the ground, the exhibits are large and colorful, and there are hardly any barriers to prevent them from getting “hands-on.” A children’s museum’s first priority is the learning encounters of the visitor, not on the preservation and protection of the objects. While this means that children’s museums have few, if any, “museum quality” objects, they do present endless hands-on learning opportunities for young visitors.


Explore! with the National Portrait Gallery – A gallery space dedicated to children.

The common mission in exhibition design for a children’s museum is to create child-centric informal learning spaces. While the themes and subjects may differ, they tend to be large-scale interactive displays that allow children to conduct imaginative play.

You may be saying, “This all sounds great, but I don’t have a children’s museum nearby!” No problem! Here are a few simple ideas adapted from actual children’s museums that can be integrated easily into your home. Remember to embrace the children’s museum philosophy of bigger is better. Large scale spaces for your child to act out their play scenarios are ultimately what makes these museums so magical. You will soon be 10 steps closer to making your home as cool as a children’s museum!

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  1. Large-Scale Light Board

Many children’s museums include a space for light play. Remember the small light up peg board of your childhood? Many children’s museums have super-sized it. While you might not have an exhibition crew to build one for you, you can easily DIY this project! Place a large wine rack in front of your largest window. Next transform water bottles into colorful pegs by putting a few drops of food coloring into the bottle. Then watch as your child spends hours creating patterns and designs while also working on their spatial relations and fine motor skills! No large window? Can’t find a large wine rack? No problem. You can also create your own light table by placing some rope lights in a large storage bin (pro tip: Use a battery-operated strand of lights so you don’t have to plug in the bin. This makes it easy to store and move around to different areas of your house.) While this doesn’t have quite the same “wow factor” it will still be great fun and it can be used with a variety of objects. They will have a great time experimenting with how the light can move through or around various objects.

  1. Water Table

The “splash zone” is always a big draw at a children’s museum. As it should be! Playing with water not only inside, but in a museum? Unheard of! Children’s museums also spice up the water play by creating large scale waterways and adding pumps, fountains, and challenges to the water basin. While building a roaring river in your house is probably out of the budget, try using a large under-the-bed storage tub as your water table. Make sure it is at your child’s standing height. This will prolong their play since they won’t be uncomfortably crouching over the tub and it also invites them to move around the table as they play. You, your child, and the space around you will get wet, so place the tub in an appropriate area. Water tables can be filled with standard boats and buckets but try including things to challenge their play and encourage problem solving. For example, provide toy people and blocks and suggest that the people need to make it across the water without getting wet. Another challenge is to ask your child to create a water path for a boat so that it goes directly from one side of the table to the other. The best part about this table is that the options are endless and can be switched easily to suite your child’s interests!

  1. Grocery Store in Your Kitchen

There is something magical about the grocery store space in a children’s museum. It is often the most popular exhibit in the museum. This is because children love acting out adult scenarios and large-scale spaces in these museums make it feel even more real, rather than just pretend. Recreate this in your own kitchen by keeping clean and sturdy food containers on low shelves for your child to “shop for.” Enhance play by purchasing a small grocery cart or basket and including a checkout lane with a small cash register. Want to get your child involved during dinner prep? Have them “shop” in your kitchen for the ingredients you will need for the recipe. This will also help them understand the value of these items and in turn may make them a bit less wasteful at dinner.

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  1. Tent/Camping Inside

By changing how a space looks you can inspire a whole different type of play for your child. Children’s museums achieve this is many different ways. For example, they might make a forest or even build a car repair shop. For a more budget-friendly option, bring your camping tent inside. Set up a faux fire with logs, battery candles, and tissue paper. Only use lanterns to light the room and turn on nature sounds. For added fun let your child sleep in a sleeping bag and adhere glow in the dark stars to your ceiling for star gazing. Your children will love having a new space and context for their imaginary play!

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  1. Tracks and Roads

Many museums include large train track tables that allow a child to continue building without limits. Why not spend the day doing the same and install train tracks or roads with your child throughout your house? Don’t have enough actual tracks? Draw them! Your child will have a great time problem solving how to get over, under, and through furniture!

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  1. Obstacle Course

Big play is an essential in children’s museums. These often include complicated and expensive play structures that would be impossible to integrate in your home. Instead, create an indoor obstacle course. At SEEC, we often will have obstacle courses than span several classrooms and require the children to practice controlled gross motor movements. Try including tunnels to crawl through, a beam or piece of wood to balance on, hoops to hop in, and a big pillow pile at the end for a safe tumbling space!

  1. Jumbo Blocks: Supersize them!

Large foam blocks are awesome but expensive! They allow your child to actually turn their imaginative structures into 3D life sized forms. As an alternative, upcycle boxes from your recent online orders or stop by a local store to ask for unwanted boxes. Tape down any flaps and let your child’s imagination go wild!

  1. Pipes, Funnels, and Tubes! Oh My!

You can often find large systems of tubes and pipes for your child to build and connect in these museums. These serve as a nice change to traditional block building materials. A quick trip to the hardware store will let you recreate a version of this in your home! Challenge your child by asking them to try and get a small ball from one end of their structure to the other or turn the tubes into musical instruments by providing your child with a stick or small mallet (like the blue man group). Experiment with different lengths to see how the sound changes.

  1. Fan fun!

In some children’s museums, you will find an exhibit exploring the power of air. There are several ways to do this at home. Use a leaf blower to explore which things are light enough to blow away and which things are too heavy. You could also do the same experiment with a large fan. This is a great way to expose your child early to the scientific method. Ask them to ask a question: will X float? Make a prediction aka hypothesis: X will not float and then try their experiment. You could even ask your child to revise their experiment: will X float with less air?

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  1. Mini Museum

Create your own mini museum at the house out of a collection you already own. Does your child love super hero toys? Why not display them in a prominent place in your home and invite your child to work with you to make small labels! They will love seeing their objects honored in a special display and are sure to love giving “tours” to all the visitors in your home.




Top 10 Sensory Bins (Kid Tested, Teacher Approved)

These containers full of tactile materials serve as a wonderful way to explore, refine fine motor skills, and contain mess! They are an especially great indoor activity during these cold winter months. There are specifically manufactured “sensory bins”, but you can easily use a storage tub of any size to achieve the same goal. When you Google or search on Pinterest for “sensory bin” you will encounter an overwhelming number of options. How does one possibly choose? We are here to help! Our teachers have tested quite a few and the options listed below are some of our favorites. Many of these ideas can be modified for older or younger children.

  1. Polar Sensory Bin

Embrace the cold! There is something extra magical about bringing snow inside! Your children will watch with wonder as this solid becomes a liquid. Provide snow gloves to prolong the play. No snow? You could also fill the bin with water and add floating icebergs which can be easily created by freezing water in small containers. If available, you could also add small polar animals. Want to take it one step further? Conduct a quick experiment on the benefits of blubber as an insulator by placing a large amount of vegetable shortening, lard, or butter in a bag and molding it around your child’s hand (Pro-tip: use a second bag or rubber glove to protect your child’s hand from grease before molding it with “blubber.” This will reduce the mess!).

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2. Gelatin Bin

The tactile experience of gelatin is very satisfying! It is also safe to taste so it provides excellent sensory material for infants. While it will always be sticky, you can purchase the unscented/unflavored variety so there is less of an appeal to eat it. You can hide all kinds of items for your child to discover in this goopy material.

3. Fire Extinguisher Bin

Have a future firefighter in the house? Create flames with construction paper and then either laminate or place them in water tight bags. Then provide your child with a squirt bottle full of water to “put out” the flames. Enhance the experience by allowing your child to dress up as a fireman or woman.


4. Bubble Bin

There are few things better than bubbles! By using some dish or hand soap create a car or toy wash. This is a fun way to involve your child in chores. Be sure to closely monitor this activity since many soaps are not child safe.

5. Gardening Bin

Gardening can easily be brought indoors with a sensory bin. Fill the container with organic soil and bring inside some of your child-safe tools (small dull trowel, watering can, pots, buckets, etc.). You could also include plastic vegetables or flowers for your child to plant or harvest! Ready to get messy? Add some water to your bin and watch together as the dirt quickly turns to mud!


6. Colored Spaghetti Bin

Spaghetti is an especially great sensory material for toddlers who want to put everything in their mouths. Jazz it up by boiling it in colored water! With younger children you can even allow them to sit and stand in the material. To extend the play with older children provide them with safety scissors to practice cutting.

7. Archaeology/Paleontology Bin

Children of all ages love digging up treasures! Fill the tub with child safe sand and hide dinosaurs, plastic bones, or even mummies. Use the same tools as real excavators such as toothbrushes, paint brushes, sifters, buckets, and trowels to uncover the hidden items.


8. Leaf Bin

Just raked your yard? Fill your sensory bin with leaves! You can also include acorns (for older children), pine cones, and even small sticks. Enhance play by providing your child with tongs and a magnifying glass.

9. Bioluminescence Bin

Bioluminescence is the light created and emitted by a living organism. This big scientific word can easily be explored in your sensory bin. Fill the tub with water and black washable paint (Pro-tip: do not use food coloring! It will dye your child’s hands) until the water becomes murky and opaque. Then throw in some glow sticks and allow your child to go “fishing” for bioluminescent organisms. Include some non-glowing “fish” to extend the fun.


10. Sensory Panels

We are breaking the rules a little with this “bin” since,  in fact, it is not a bin at all. Create sensory panels by removing the glass or plastic from a variety of frames and fill them with tactile materials. You can use anything that you think your child would be interested in (safely) touching (our favorite is a piece of a high pile bath mat). These framed sensory materials are great because they can be placed on the floor for infants to explore during tummy time or hung for toddlers to touch while stretching their legs! The hanging aspect also allows for easy storage and can even provide a fun decoration for your child’s room.

20 Teacher Approved Gifts For The Holidays

Looking for holiday inspiration? Want to give a unique present and need help thinking outside the box? We’ve got you covered. Here are few gift ideas inspired by kid favorites in our classrooms. There are a variety of price points and some of these gifts can easily be picked up during your routine errands.

  1. Library Card

Most public libraries will allow you to open a card in your child’s name. Providing your child with their own card will create a sense of pride and ownership. Bonus: it will also help remind children to take good care of their books.

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  1. Train Ride

Have a transportation obsessed child? Why not take them on a short (or long) ride on a real train!

  1. Locks and Latches Board

These DIY boards are a great way for your child to get some fine motor practice, keep them occupied for hours, and allow them to safely play with latches and switches without risk of harm.

  1. Cooking Tools

Cooking tools that you would find in your own kitchen are often fast favorites for children. These items are particularly popular and safe for kids: spatulas, metal bowls, sifters, whisks, and pans. Keep these in a lower kitchen cabinet so that your child can easily pull them out to “help” you cook dinner!

  1. Linking Blocks

Blocks are wonderful! They allow for all types of gross motor, fine motor, and problem solving skills to develop. Our teachers especially love ones that connect, either by snapping together or sticking together with magnets.

  1. Slime/Playdough

This easy DIY item is always a favorite in any classroom. Children love the sensory experience and teachers love the endless possibilities of this fine motor activity.


  1. Tunnels

Fun for all ages, tunnels are a great indoor, gross motor play activity. Having trouble making transitions? Use a tunnel as a physical reminder that you are changing from one activity to the next.

  1. Scooter Boards

These flat boards with four wheels can be purchased at a toy store or even a hardware store (they are listed as furniture movers). They require both arm and leg coordination and can be a great inside option for movement.

  1. Drawing Implements

There is nothing quite like a new box of crayons, pencils, or markers to inspire creativity in a young (or old) child.

  1. Water Toys

Make bath time more fun with water “toys” that can be found at the local grocery or hardware store. Some of our favorites include large sponges, funnels, turkey basters and buckets.

  1. Exercise Trampolines

Looking for more big movement activities for indoor play? This is your answer! There are small trampolines made specifically for children that include a bar or you can also use an exercise trampoline. Exercise trampolines usually have covers over the springs but do need some extra adult supervision.

  1. Scarves

Scarves are a wonderful gift that can transform into so many different things for all ages. Have a child that loves to pull wipes or tissues out of the box? Transform an old wipe container by filling it with scarves. Want to spice up your changing table? Hang colorful scarves from the ceiling to keep your child mesmerized through the process. Jazz up a song by including movement with scarves.

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  1. Disposable Cameras

In a world of instant gratification this gift will teach your child patience and the art of film photography! It will also provide you with a look at the world through their eyes.


  1. Puppet Stages

There are few children who can resist a stage. Promote dramatic play by providing your child with a platform for their performances.

  1. Dress Up Clothes

Let your child’s imagination run wild with dress up clothes. We especially love including clothes from all different professions. When a child acts out scenarios in pretend play they are developing important social and problem solving skills.

  1. Books

Continue to foster your child’s love of reading by giving them new books. Even at a very young age a child is developing pre-reading skills and should be exposed regularly to text even before they are able to read it themselves.


  1. Tricycles

There is always a mad dash on the playground for tricycles and bicycles. Teachers love them because they require coordination and gross motor strength from the child.

  1. Steps

These could lead to nowhere and still be endless fun for a young, active child. Especially in their toddler years, they are always on the move! This is a great gift to help them safely explore and practice stairs.

  1. Magnifying Glasses

Encourage close looking with this gift! It will give children a new perspective on things they encounter in their everyday lives.


  1. Seeds

Have a picky eater? A great way to get your child excited about trying their vegetables is to get them started at the beginning of the process. Provide them with some seeds and a small space to garden and see the wonder in their eyes as their plants appear!

Did we forget something? Share your idea in the comments!


10 Things You Can Do Right Now with Your Child in the Grocery Store


Taking a trip to the grocery store? Try these easy activities to convert your trip to the store from a chore to a fun and enriching outing for you and your child!

  1. Alphabet Grocery List: While not the most efficient way to plan your visit, sorting your list alphabetically is a great way to work on early literacy skills and make hunting for items a fun game!
  2. Scale Showdown: Weighing your fruits and veggies is a great way to work on early math skills. Make it a game by taking turns weighing items and guessing whose item will weigh more!SEECstories.com (18)
  3. Take a Walk on the Wild Side: Get a little gross motor practice in as you move around the grocery store. Select different animals to imitate and stomp, slither, and hop down the aisles.
  4. Play: Where does it come from?: By the time food reaches your child it is often very far removed from its original source. Have your child guess where the item came from. For example, milk comes from cows, blueberries grow on bushes, etc.
  5. Warm, Warmer, Warmest: Hunting for items will keep your child engaged in the shopping process and may keep them from breaking down before you reach the end of your list. Pre-spot the item and have your child hunt for them based on saying warm, warmer, warmest.
  6. Plan a Recipe Together: Picky eater? Having your child be a part of the process from the very beginning will give them a larger investment in the final product. Who knows, it might even get them to try something new!
  7. Texture Talk: There are lots of great textures at the grocery store. Ask your child to help find items based on their texture. 6
  8. Shape Hunt: Just like texture, there are a number of great shapes at the grocery store. Ask your child to find items based on their shape.
  9. Start a Grocery Cart Band: While being conscious of other shoppers, pick a few items from your cart for your child to use as instruments. Items such as coffee cans, boxes, of cereal, and spices make excellent shakers!
  10. Pay: Create a smaller group of items that your child is in charge of checking out with (this works especially well at the self-checkout). Allow them to help pay and bag the items. Children love taking on adult tasks and it will give them a sense of responsibility and ownership over those items.


Have other fun grocery store games? Please share! We would to love to hear them.



10 Things You Can Do Right Now with Your Child While Cooking


Making dinner or lunch? Why not include your child in the process! Cooking with your child is a fun way to work on math, fine motor, and gross motor skills. It also allows them to invest in the meal they are about to eat. Here are a few ways to make the experience extra child friendly:

  1. Re-write the Recipe: Go over the recipe you are going to make with your child. If 1possible, add images/drawings of the ingredients needed. Give your child a chance to “write” their own version of the recipe on a separate sheet. Going through this process helps your child build on their understanding of sequencing. Use “first….then…” phrases.
  2. Measure: This is an excellent way to work on math skills. Working with more than one child? Divide up measurements to smaller units to allow for more participation.
  3. Pour: This is a big milestone in a child’s development and requires a lot of practice. If you are worried about a big mess, place a plastic bin lid or plastic table cloth on the floor to create a pouring station.1
  4. Mix: Mixing is a great gross motor activity. Sing a song or count while mixing! If items are spilling out of the bowl, transfer a small portion to another bowl for your child to mix.
  5. Cut: Provide your child with a very blunt knife or a spoon to cut up soft items such as butter or bananas. While not all recipes include a child friendly item to cut, consider providing them with an item to cut that can be served as a side dish/appetizer. They will enjoy mimicking the way that you cut the tougher items.
  6. Cook: Baking, boiling, toasting, grilling, etc. is the magical transformation and the scientific part of cooking. While these steps of the process are the most dangerous for your child, they are also some of the most exciting. Allow your child to observe and “check on food” from a safe distance.2
  7. Serve: Serving the food is a great way to practice their balance and to develop upper arm strength!
  8. Share: Children are working hard on practicing this important social skill. Having them share the food over which they feel ownership provides great practice!
  9. Talk about Nutrition: Sometimes this conversation gets lost in the shuffle and excitement of the cooking process. Take a little extra time to explain to your child why we need different ingredients to make a nutritious and well balanced meal. Work with your child to sort each item on their plate into the different food pyramid categories (grains, fruits, veggies, proteins, etc.)
  10. Wash/Clean up: Ask your child to help clear the table and help with the dishes. Washing the dishes is a fun water play activity! Not ready to have them work at the sink with breakables? Fill a small tub with soapy water for them to wash a selected set of dishes!

Have fun cooking traditions or tips to share? We would love to hear them!



10 Things You Can Ask Instead of “How was your day?”


It is hard to be away from your child. So, as soon as you are reunited you are naturally eager to hear all about their day! Many of us get stuck in the “How was your day?” “Fine” cycle. While well-intentioned, that question does not usually elicit much information. So let’s break the mold and take question asking to the next level! Here are a few ideas.

  1. Ask your caregiver for a specific topic. This could be something they talked about, explored, drew, or saw. SEEC teachers post daily “ask me about…” topics in every room so that parents can ask or speak with their child about a specific topic. This allows the parent to ask a question that goes beyond the one word response. It also helps to remind the child of exactly what they did that day. 3
  2. Who did you Play with? Building relationships and socializing are very important to your young child and navigating those relationships is a key part of their day. They will be anxious to share!
  3. What was the best thing that happened today? Why? Children often work in extremes. Something is a favorite one minute and terrible the next. You may hear something unexpected and surprising!
  4. What was the worst thing that happened? Why? This question also plays to children’s tendency to work in extremes. However, the response to this question may also be something seemingly minimal (for example, not getting to play with the toy they wanted or peas for lunch) but it can tell you a great deal about your child’s particular preferences and ultimately parts of their day.
  5. What was something that happened that was different than yesterday? Time is a tricky concept for young children. This question asks your child to categorize an activity as later in the past and more recently in the past. It also asks them to separate events from one day to the next and be observant of changes whether they were big or small.
  6. What did you play with today? Where did you spend most of your time playing? Play is work for a child. Through play, children are designing experiments and acting out scenarios that they can later use as data. Asking about their play is the same as asking your partner, significant other, friend, etc. about their job.
  7. What was something funny that happened today? By the end of the day we can all use a little humor! Also, for your child to communicate the funny moment, they will most likely need to set the scene and describe the cast of characters.1
  8. What song did you sing today? Can you teach me? Children love music and the chance to play the teacher role. This is a great way to not only hear about their day, but also participate in a part of the day that you might have missed.
  9. What did you learn today? This will look different for a young child. Instead of their answer being academic, it might be a social, emotional, or physical activity.
  10. What did you eat? People often associate memories with food. Asking what your child ate will not only help you get a sense of their day, but might teach you more about their particular preferences making meal planning a bit easier.

There are so many great questions out there! Have one that works well to get your child chatting? Please share!

10 Things You Can Do Right Now with Your Child at a Restaurant


Looking for alternatives to passing your child a phone or gaming device when out to eat? Here are a few quick tips on how to engage your child during your meal!

  1. Read the Whole Menu: Instead of pre-selecting a few items to read to your child as choices take time to read most of the menu with them. This is a great way to encourage the development of literacy practices as well as making them a participant in the ordering process.
  2. Let your Child Order for You and Themselves: Instead of speaking for your child allow them to order. It helps them invest in their order and allows them to practice social skills.
  3. Talk: This one is obvious, but when choosing topics of conversation, select a topic in1 which your child can participate. Ask them what they want to talk about. Children have a lot to share if they are given a chance!
  4. Create a Try-It Plate for Everyone at the Table: Make trying new foods fun, not a task. Have the whole table contribute a small sample from their order to a communal plate. Then take turns trying foods that other people ordered. When you try something “different” you are modeling this behavior for your child and encouraging them to try new things.10
  5. Guess the Object: Without revealing the object (a fork, salt shaker, pen, etc.), take turns hiding it under your napkin. Then try and guess the object based only on the shape and size.
  6. People Watching: Make up a story about other guests in the restaurant (make sure the group is out of earshot). Have your child observe the table and think about who the people might be and what they might be talking about. Picking up on social/emotional cues is a big part of your child’s development and this is a fun way to get some practice from afar.
  7. Draw: Sketch on a paper napkin, back of a check, or scrap of paper. You can even take it a step further and convert your child’s doodle into more complicated illustrations and create a story as you draw.
  8. Get up and Move: Sometimes your child just needs to get up and move: climb the stairs, take a walking tour of the restaurant, check out an open kitchen, or even just take a step outside.
  9. Pay the Check: Include your child in the paying process by allowing them to help with simple math (for example, counting a few dollars to leave for the tip) and handing off the check to the waiter. This will provide them with a feeling of responsibility and also allows them to begin to understand that goods and service have real value.
  10. Recognize When it is Time to Go: As you have probably noticed, young children have short attention spans. So, set realistic expectations and look for signs that your child is ready to move on to the next location/activity.

Have other ways you engage your child when out to eat? Please Share!

10 Things You Can Do Right Now on the Metro


Finding things to entertain you and your child on public transportation can be daunting. Try out some of these activities now or on your next commute!

  1. 2Count: There are innumerable categories of things to count on public transportation. You could start by counting the number of doors, windows, or chairs and then ask your child what they would like to count next. If you are on a bus or if the Metro goes above ground, you can also include those objects you can see outside the train.
  2. Seek for Shapes: Just like counting, there are a large variety of shapes to discover on public transportation. Start by selecting a shape to look for and see how many different places it can be discovered.
  3. Check yourself out!: Often the train will speed through tunnel after tunnel. Use this time to make some faces at each other. Choose an emotion to portray and talk about how you and your child’s expressions are different or similar.
  4. Play Mystery Object: If you’re with your child, chances are that you have a big bag of stuff! Have your child reach their hand into your bag and pick up an object but not pull it out of the bag. Ask them to describe it (smooth, cold, small, etc.) and try guessing what the object might be.
  5. Look for Letters: Practice pre-literacy by looking for letters in all the signage (at least those ads are good for something!)
  6. Explore Newton’s First Law of Motion: Ok, at first glance this seems out of your seecstories-com-13child’s league but really this is an easy concept to take on! Newton’s First Law of Motion is that an object in motion will stay in motion until affected by an external force. This is why you lean forward when the train car comes to a stop. Your child probably has already started exploring this when they want to stand and “surf” on the train. A safe and easy way to explore this concept to sit on the edge of your seat leaning away from the back of the chair. You and your child will feel the pull forward as the train comes to a stop!
  7. Give Directions: Sit near the map of the Metro system on the train (or use a pocket version) and take turns giving directions to different stops. Select a stop and have your child tell you which color line the stop is on or if you want to get really tricky, see if they can figure out the transfer station. This will develop their visual literacy and knowledge of their surroundings – this can help keep them safe in case you were ever separated.
  8. Read or Draw on a Newspaper: Pick up a free seecstories-com-14paper and share some of the appropriate stories with your child. If you have a pen you could also use it as a doodle-pad for you and your child.
  9. Play What’s That Noise?: Public transportation is full of sounds. Use this time as a way to practice listening. Pick a sound (something that is isolated: a loud speaker announcement, a shoe tapping, a door opening, etc.) and have your child try to identify it by pointing and describing.4
  10. Time something: Children loved to be timed. Use a watch, smartphone, or count to measure how long it takes you or your child to do something. This could be something as simple as taking gloves off, tying a shoe, or, if you are traveling at off peak times, getting from one end of the train car to the other (only if this can be done safely).

How did it go? Share your thoughts about these activities and suggest others below!

Roll Up Your Sleeves, It’s Learning Time! (Part 2)

Think Like a Teacher: Integrating Learning into Everyday Routines


This blog series aims to highlight how you can simply and easily enhance your child’s learning and development through everyday routines. In our previous post, we explored the developmental growth that occurred when a child gets dressed. Today we will focus on opportunities for learning extensions and fun activities that center around clothing and weather.

Weather Learning Extensions

Weather Report

Since clothes are so closely tied to weather, we recommend giving your child time to explore and learn more about their environment. One easy way to do this is to have your child provide a weather report! Ask your child to look outside or even feel the window to describe the weather conditions. A simple brush can act as a microphone and voila, you have a future meteorologist on your hands.

Feeling adventurous? Choose a weekend, mix in some dress-up options, and film the report. Sharing a weather video is a great way to stay connected with family and also provide your child with a sense of accomplishement!


Some of our favorite weather books are:  The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats, Little Cloud by Eric Carle, What Will the Weather Be? by Lynda DeWitt.


During their morning gathering, a SEEC class decides as a group how to dress their class bear. 

Weather Bear

Using a paper or stuffed bear is a great way for your child to feel empowered. Once you’ve determined the type of weather, ask your child how they think Teddy should be dressed. If the child suggests a heavy coat on a hot day, it is a great opportunity for you to discuss how Teddy will feel after being out in the hot sun for awhile. This can avoid a power struggle between you and your child later when they are choosing their own clothes.

Seasonal Changes

As the seasons change, so do our daily wardrobes. Point out these changes to your child by observing the changes in their environment during a walk or car ride. Notice together how those changes impact your clothing choices.  Emphasize this change by establishing labeled tubs or boxes of clothing for each season. Have your child partake in the sorting of clothing (gloves go in the winter box and bathing suits go into the summer container, etc.)! Make this a philanthropic exercise by allowing your child to decide which clothes no longer fit and have them assist you with donating them to a local charity. If after this sort your child is low on a particular type of clothing have them work with you to create a list of needed items. This will also provide them with a greater sense of respect and ownership over their clothing.

Clothing Collection Boards

You could also create collection boards for each season by gathering items from outside and clipping images of events, holidays, and clothing particular to that season.

Books about the Seasons

As the seasons change, grab some weather appropriate books from your local library. Some of our favorites are: Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert, The Mitten by Jan Brett, and Caps, Hats, Socks, and Mittens: A Book About the Four Seasons by Louise Borden.

History and Culture

For young children, the concept of time is hard to grasp. Using the changing trends of clothing as a way to mark the passage of time can be a fun and concrete way to illustrate this tricky concept. Put up a few photos in your child’s room depicting clothing over the decades. Make sure to include photos of family members – it will make it more meaningful.

seecstories-com-10You may also consider posting a few images of how people dress around the world. You will want to be thoughtful about not perpetuating stereotypes. For example, along side a photo of Indian woman in a sari, you might want to also include an Indian man/woman wearing jeans and a t-shirt.

Pictures of children wearing different clothing can also provide infants and young toddlers the opportunity to learn how things belonging to the same category can look drastically different. For example, they may learn that there are many different types of head gear that fall into the category of items that we call “hats.” They do this type of inventory by labeling a diverse set of examples in the same way. Check out Smithsonian’s Learning Lab for an easy way to build a collection of Smithsonian objects to share with your little one.


Explore the fabric of the item your child is wearing. This simple act is a concrete exercise that will help a child practice observational skills and build vocabulary. Take this exercise a step further and ask  “I wonder where your XXX came from?” or “I wonder how it was made?” Use images and real objects to demonstrate that clothing doesn’t just magically appear. Use a photo of a cotton plant or pull your sewing kit out from the closet. Either way, this will help give your child some perspective on where and how they get their clothing.

Extra Time = Extra Opportunities

We hope you feel empowered to turn getting dressed into a fun and enriching experience for you and your child. Remember, incorporate one or two of these ideas and don’t feel pressured to do everything or get too elaborate. If you can give yourself that ten extra minutes one or two mornings a week, you will be surprised how you can enrich your routines. Let us know if you tried any of the ideas out! Until next time, Happy Learning!




Roll Up Your Sleeves, It’s Learning Time! (Part 1)

Integrating Learning into Everyday Routines


Children are always learning! Whether it is a trip to the grocery store or eating a meal, everyday routines can be prime learning opportunities. This blog series aims to highlight these moments and describe some simple steps to enhance your child’s learning and development.

This week we are focusing on getting dressed! Making decisions about your wardrobe was tricky enough when it was just you, but now that you are responsible for someone else (or even several someones), it can be downright exhausting. We don’t want to make it more difficult, but we hope by seeing the learning possibilities you will recognize how you can, with little effort, be your child’s first teacher!

Give Yourself 10 Extra Minutes

Allowing extra time isn’t exactly a developmental milestone, however it can really make a difference. It will help relieve some of the pressure you feel in the mornings as you rush to get out the door. Children not only feed off your energy, but they also model your behavior. So by taking extra time in the morning, you are setting a good example of how to manage their time. In reality though, that ten extra minutes can be hard. On those days when you are running late, remember to take a deep breath and remain as calm as you can – a smoother morning will lead to a better day.

Fine Motor

This skill will look different depending on the age of your child, but children are pinching, grabbing, pulling, and pushing while they are getting dressed. Exercising these small muscles in their hands is an essential pre-writing skill. It enables them to develop the strength they will need to hold a writing implement properly. These small motor movements come naturally while they are getting dressed. Pulling a zipper, pinching their fingers to pull up socks and pushing buttons through their hole are a just few examples of this skill at work! While these are very difficult skills that take time to perfect be sure to allow them the time to try it themselves. For example, when learning to zip, make sure you model slowly so children can see what you’re actually doing, assist in starting the zipper and then allow the child to pull it the rest of the way up. You know how to zip a coat, give them a chance to give it a go!

Gross Motor

Hopefully getting your child dressed in the morning involves less gross motor activity (running, jumping, climbing, etc.) than other parts of their day, but it will probably still include some more controlled big muscle exercise. A younger child will probably be sitting as you assist them with their dressing. In this situation, they are using their core muscles to sit up and maintain balance as you pull on their clothes. For an older child they may be balancing on one foot as they put on their pants or push on their shoes.


Math for a young child doesn’t look the same as it does for school age children. Math is about categorizing, sorting, counting, measuring (short, long, longest), and weighing (light, heavy, heaviest). Getting dressed actually involves a lot of math.  For example, as your child puts on gloves, they are doing simple addition by deciding that each hand needs a glove, so they will need two gloves. The same is true with socks and shoes! You can also emphasize these math skills by counting as they push buttons through the holes and put their fingers in their gloves. They are also sorting and categorizing as they match their shoes, socks, and gloves!

2Cause and Effect/Consequences

The idea of consequences can be quite abstract for a young child. Giving them concrete examples of “if this…than this” is an important part of their development. These opportunities come very naturally as they are getting dressed. A child may protest putting on a particular item of clothing. I encourage you to allow your child to feel those consequences (within limits) of their choices as they get dressed in the morning. For example, if a child does not want to wear shoes on a cold wet day, allow them to step outside the house and experience how it feels without them. It allows them to make their own independent decision and to discover the consequence of their behavior.

Learning is a natural part of everyday activities! Be sure to check back in two weeks for our next installation. We will be exploring  more ways parents can use getting dressed as a way to help your child learn.