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Building Confidence in Young Children through Active Play

As educators and parents, we understand how important self confidence is in a child’s development. We strive to have a healthy self esteem ourselves to overcome challenges, accomplish our goals, and establish peer acceptance. Building that confidence at a young age allows children to be the best they can be at home, at school, and in their community. Active play is a fantastic way to help them do just that. 

What are some of the ways active play builds confidence in young children?

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Little Leaders: Igniting Your Children's Social-Emotional Development

It’s often easy to think about our children learning their basics—to read, to write, to talk–but what about how to become a balanced and emotionally-grounded person?

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Ignite the Imagination with Manipulatives

Manipulatives come in so many different shapes and sizes and offer up a fantastic range of learning opportunities for early childhood development. Maria Cantillana shares her experience with one of our favorite sets, the Geo Block Build! Her kids amazed us all as they used a typical manipulative set to not only work through some fundamental skills, but instinctively engaged in open-ended play-based creativity and fun!

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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.




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


                                              FEATURED PRODUCTS:


Discovery Windows - KRP-8


Translucent Wedgits - IMA-02


Earth, Wind, and Water Blocks - MTC-628


Toddler Fruit Abacus - KRP-001


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!


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.



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


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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