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Back to School: Sensory Play Table Refresh

Back to school is upon us and this year it may be more exciting than ever for all of us! We love seeing you--whether in the classroom or at home--refreshing your learning centers and ideas for the Fall. What new things are you incorporating this year? Have you added some new community figures into your block play area, or what about some community helper dress up clothes into your dramatic play time? And sensory play--what can you shake up there?

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The Simplicity of Play

Younger children learn best through play! It’s easy to forget that although it may seem simplistic and unchallenging, the benefits received are unbelievable. Play relieves stress, improves brain function, increases creativity, boosts cooperation and social skills, and more! 

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Spring Metamorphosis

The weather is warming up and there is no better time to get outside to shake up the learning experience. It is as simple as moving typical indoor activities outside--lego building on the patio--or going on a leisurely walk looking for the many things in bloom! Do a kid-friendly workout class to music near the playground or practice those yoga moves in the grass; there are so many fun options.  


Check out how Taylor Wyatt at @CompleteMomSense is spending her time outside, incorporating science and discovery as well as lots of fun!

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Spring is officially in full bloom and it is the perfect season to spend time outdoors doing activities and experiments with your kids! It’s easy to think of outside play including water and sand activities, but this time of year my daughters and I really enjoy exploring nature and learning about the insects that we see everyday. 



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My whole family is currently watching the life cycle of a butterfly with the butterfly garden. Every day we check on our caterpillars and wait for the changes to occur. It’s a great talking point to go outside and see butterflies and have a dialogue about how they start as caterpillars and over time change into butterflies. I also love that it comes with manipulatives that represent each phase - egg, caterpillar, chrysalis, and butterfly! This helps us to see the stage they’re in and what’s to come. We can’t wait to release our butterflies into the wild!



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Water tables, sand pits, and mini pools are all the rage and for good reason! Not only are they every child’s favorite, they encourage pretend play, aid fine and gross motor skills, and promote sensory experiences. With any of these options you can throw in cups, scoops, utensils, bowls, and have your kids do transfer activities to improve hand eye coordination. If you add in some food coloring you can watch primary colors transfer to secondary colors. 



Outdoor play is essential for children. The good news is there are so many activities available to help keep it engaging and fun! We are looking forward to having all the fun in the sun this year. Be sure to follow along with us to see how our butterfly garden progresses in the coming weeks!



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                                              FEATURED PRODUCTS:



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Board Book Classic - The Very Hungry Caterpillar - PU-690





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Encased Butterfly Collection - ESE-422us-toy-tmp-images-catalog-products-t-e-teb122



Tree Rings - TEB-12



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Butterfly Dominoes - MTC-385







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Have a moment to share with us? Be sure to tag us and use the hashtag #constructiveinsights in your post. We’d love to potentially feature you on our social feeds and/or in an upcoming email!

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Creating Magic through STEAM

This month we have been celebrating STEM and STEAM Education. What’s the difference? STEAM is simply an approach to learning that not only incorporates Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, but also the Arts!

 

Elizabeth McBee shares how she has turned this crazy COVID year into a year of homeschooling and creativity using simple, open-ended toys that allow her children to discover in a way that is comfortable to them. When children feel comfortable, they will learn new skills! Not only are her children learning new skills, but they are also incorporating all different learning styles and techniques encouraging inquiry, dialogue and critical thinking (yay STEAM!). The best part is, much of this is led by her children as they are developmentally ready to move through to the next level of discovery.



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With the one-year anniversary of COVID having passed, so many of us are reflecting on this past year. There is something unique about facing a challenge as a collective group. Somehow as we all faced isolation like never before, we became connected on a deeper level. We have shared struggles and insights, humor and life hacks. We have risen to the occasion and had each other’s backs. Now it is spring again, and we are slowly getting back to life outside our homes. One thing that I sincerely hope remains, is how we share with each other. 



For me, this past year brought the opportunity to homeschool my children. While the freedom and flexibility provided a much-needed reprieve, it also brought very real challenges. With kids ranging from Pre-K to 3rd grade, it was no joke trying to accommodate everyone. 



As a former preschool teacher, I did have a few tricks up my sleeve. My favorite secret weapon is open-ended materials. Not only are they versatile, but they also inspire the learner and allow them to discover at their own pace. Take, for instance, this Stuff N’ Pull Scarf Tote. It could be labeled as a toddler toy, but we have found endless uses for it! The scarves have been volcanoes for geology. They’ve been capes in plays the girls have written. The container was transformed into a mystery box to study material properties and understand the concept of deduction. All the while, my 4-year-old was using the same materials to play alongside the big kids! It allowed her to participate in a way that was fun at her level. The best part is, I don’t have to do all the thinking! By providing these materials, the children naturally get inspired and take initiative to construct their own knowledge. 



It turns out, we are all made for creative connection. We take what we are given and make magic out of it. To absolutely everyone: congratulations not just on making it through a year, but for all the little ways you did the unexpected and transformed the world.  







 Stuff N’ Pull Scarf Tote

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Discovery Windows - KRP-8



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Translucent Wedgits - IMA-02



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Earth, Wind, and Water Blocks - MTC-628



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Toddler Fruit Abacus - KRP-001



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Have a moment to share with us? Be sure to tag us and use the hashtag #constructiveinsights in your post. We’d love to potentially feature you on our social feeds and/or in an upcoming email!

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An Early Literacy Superpower: Phonological Awareness

We’ve been celebrating early literacy all month long! The best part is seeing all the creative resources and ideas you use with your kids at home and in the classroom to develop these important early literacy skills. 


Candice Williams, Founder and CEO of Urby Education, discusses the importance of Phonological Awareness and shows off how she works in two of our favorite literacy products, Vowel Owls and one of our Exclusive Products, the Alphabet Bricks and Base Plates set. Be sure to watch her video at the end to see it up close!


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March Blog



It’s National Reading Month, but sadly half of children in the United States struggle with reading. Children can begin to read independently before they enter kindergarten and the early literacy skill that they will need in order to reach this level: phonological awareness.



Wait, did I lose you already? I know that this term can be confusing to both parents and educators. In short, phonological awareness is the ability to hear and orally manipulate sounds in spoken language. Our words are made up of individual units of sounds called "phonemes". Phonological Awareness is an umbrella term, as this skill includes word recognition within sentences, rhyming, sound segmentation, syllables, and phonemic awareness (the ability to hear and manipulate sounds/phonemes). 



Did you know that Phonological Awareness should be taught everyday in grades K-2? Most schools don’t spend enough time on teaching these skills explicitly. A great reader is like a builder who is able to reach into their toolbox to use any tool when needed, and Phonological Awareness is the actual tool belt; it’s their literacy foundation! 



Don’t underestimate the simple power of understanding letter(s) and sounds, which is phonemic awareness. If a child knows 10 sounds, then they can read 350 three-sound words, 4,320 four-sound words, and 21,650 five-sound words. A preschooler can learn 10 letters and sounds easily, which means that they can also read up to 26,000 words! 



This is exactly why I tell parents that it’s never too early to start practicing early literacy skills.There are only 26 letters in the alphabet, but there are 44 sounds in the English language. How is this possible you ask? I’ll have to write another blog about that. But, just imagine how confused our kiddos become during their reading journey! 



Constructive Playthings makes teaching phonological awareness and phonemic awareness fun and effective! Get rid of those boring flashcards and check out some Alphabet Brick & Base Plates to build on their phonemic awareness skills. Have your kiddos practice phonemic awareness and phonological awareness with Vowel Owls. Doesn’t this sound way more fun?!



Come and visit me on social media, and I’ll show you how I use these resources, as well as others in my teaching everyday! Using a multi-sensory approach to learning is a research-based strategy, and colorful manipulatives are tools that I use to make reading fun.





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Alphabet Bricks & Base Plates - BLC-208



1Artboard_1_2-100Vowel Owls Sorting Set - LER-5460



1Artboard_1_3-100Double-Sided Photo Magnetic Cards - LRI-445



1Artboard_1_4-100Alphabet Alligator  - DL-32



1Artboard_1_5-100Wooden Alphabet Floor Puzzle  - MYK-771

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Have a moment to share with us? Be sure to tag us and use the hashtag #constructiveinsights in your post. We’d love to potentially feature you on our social feeds and/or in an upcoming email!

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