Masking Your Emotions… Literally!

Talking about feelings and emotions may seem obscure to most adults, but talking about emotions can make all the difference with young children. Being able to name and identify a feeling or emotion can help your child express themselves in ways that are more appropriate. This simple activity allows family members and children to chat about feelings and connect it emotionally to real-life experiences.

To begin this activity, you’ll need a few materials that you probably already have laying around the house.


  • Half-cut paper plates
  • Popsicle sticks, tape, crayons, color pencils, or washable markers (any will do!)

These next few steps would be great for you and your child to work on together!


  • Tape a stick behind each plate
  • Begin drawing different mouths that show different emotions


For where we found such a wonderful idea, feel free to visit the website HERE.


  • Asking questions such as, “What makes you feel surprised?” or, “What makes you feel excited?”
  • Discuss how certain everyday events make you feel. For example, “I feel so happy when I see you every morning,” or, “Sometimes it makes me feel sad when I miss you while I’m at work.” Then bringing the conversation back with, “But I know that I’ll see you later and that makes me feel excited!”

Play with the emotions, make silly faces, and ask questions about each mask!  This is a fun activity that can bond family members and children together in the most simple way.

Camping…at home!

Pretend play can allow children to act out roles or feelings that they may not feel comfortable expressing in normal settings. The pretend or imaginary aspect of this type of play gives them a safe outlet to explore these feelings or emotions.

Now, if you are like many parents out there, it can be hard to find time and resources to take children out camping.  Here is a great way to mimic that camping feeling indoors!

  • Pushing back sofas, tables or other furniture should leave enough room to pitch a small tent (or use sheets and blankets to build a makeshift tent).   


  • Pitching this tent will unlock your child’s imaginary play.  Your children will be able to act out any interest that may be sparked by  this type of setting.  
  • You can leave a small setup or you can add things like lanterns, flashlights, or sleeping bags.  If you really want to get creative you can design something like this:



Just remember, not only is it important to spark the child’s ideas and interests, but try to interact and build off each experience!  

Sidewalk Chalk Painting!


Want a fun, inexpensive activity for the kiddos?!

The recipe is a 1 to 1 ratio. You’ll need:

  • 1 cup cornstarch
  • 1 cup water
  • food coloring (less color makes pastel colors!)
  • plastic bowls or cups
  • paint brushes

Mix cornstarch and water together until smooth. Divide and add food coloring until you reach your desired colors.

Often times, children want to feel like they have a part or role in a family activity so why not allow them to help with measuring the cornstarch and the water!  They will also enjoy mixing it and touching the consistency of the mixture.

This is also a great opportunity to allow your child to make a very important decision: What colors does your child want to paint with? Let your child add the color into the mixture and mix some more!  During this time it is a great opportunity to talk about the colors and what the mixture feels like  when they touch it.

And then comes the fun part… Let them explore!



Hands are for Helping!

Chores to adults may seem like… well, chores!  However, chores to your preschooler can be incredibly satisfying.  Encouraging your child to perform simple jobs around the house may have many benefits parents may not even notice.

Hands are for Helping!
Simple jobs can be as easy as putting shoes and clothes away, but more complex tasks supports higher self-esteem, especially if the child is helping the functionality of the family.  Some examples of simple chores are listed below.

  • Setting the dinner tablesettingtable.jpg
  • Helping with the laundrylaundry.jpg
  • Preparing breakfast, lunch, or dinnerwashing-fruit.jpg
  • Planning a family summer car washcarwash.jpg


  • Assign simple tasks at a time with a clear expectations. For example, “Please put all the white clothes into the basket. Let me know when you’re finished!”
  • When thanking your child for completing a task, be sure to specify your comment. For example, rather than saying, “thank you,” try adding more specific comments like, “thank you for washing the fruits for me.”
  • Attach emotions to your praise! When your child completes a task, try saying, “It makes me really happy when you set the dinner table,” or, “It makes me so excited that you want to help me pack your lunch today!”

These clear verbal cues support the task at hand, but also attach emotional connection behind your verbal interactions. Hopefully with these tips and suggestions, families can have extra hands for helping!

Pumpkin Exploration

Fall is great time to head to a pumpkin patch and pick out a pumpkin that fits your style.  Many of us may choose to carve pumpkins with fun decorations. An easy activity that can extend your fun is baking the pumpkin seeds for healthy snack!

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  • Save the pumpkin seeds that you pull out of the your carved pumpkin
  • Wash them well and make sure you get all that slime off

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  • Pre-heat your oven to 300 degrees
  • Spread the cleaned pumpkin seeds out on a sheet pan and let them dry out for about 20-30 minutes
  • You can choose to season them by tossing with a little melted butter a salt, or you can do brown sugar and cinnamon, or just leave them plain.
  • Put your seeds in for about 45 mins or until golden brown, stirring them occasionally
  • Pull them out when they are ready, let them cool, and enjoy!

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This is also a great opportunity to let your child help with the preparation and cooking process, and also talk about safety in the kitchen.

Pizza Party!

Create your own pretend pizza parlor!

Ask your local pizza place for an extra box the next time you stop by or even at most chain restaurants they’ll have small to-go pizza boxes.IMG_5518

You and your child can spend a few minutes cutting up different colored construction paper for the “toppings”. Some examples are: red for tomatoes or pepperoni, green for bell peppers or spinach, black for olive, grey for mushrooms, yellow and white for cheeses, etc.  These don’t need to be perfect, any shape or size works for toppings.

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Other fun additions for the pizza parlor: chef hats, aprons, telephone for delivery service, fake money, rolling pins, empty paper bags of flour

This activity can be as simple or elaborate as you and your child want it to be, let your imaginations run wild!

Homemade Play Dough Recipe!

homemade playdough picture.jpg

Here is a great homemade play dough recipe!

4 cups of flour
2 cups of salt
4 teaspoons of Cream of Tartar
4 cups of water
2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
15-20 drops of food coloring*
5-10 drops of food scent*
(*Feel free to replace the food coloring and food scent with 4-5 packets of powdered Kool-Aid. It will look as fun as it smells!)

1. Add dry ingredients to a large mixing bowl
2. Stir until lumps are gone
3. Pour smooth mixture into a pan over low heat
4. Stir mixture in the pan until it clumps into a large ball
5. Remove the play dough from the pan onto cool surface
6. Knead the play dough until desired consistency
7. Store the play dough in an air tight container

Making play dough together as a family is great for getting your children to learn helpfulness, fine and gross motor skills, dramatic play, and self-regulation! Some tips and ideas on encouraging social-emotional development are listed below.

Play Dough Ideas:
– Place the play dough on place mats to give your children a space with play boundaries
– Add materials found around the house into to play dough activity (pasta, straws, forks, spoons, bowls, cups, muffin tins, dough rollers, dinosaurs, animal toys, pipe cleaners, popsicle sticks, buttons, rocks, etc.)

This open-ended activity will allow children to freely use their imagination!

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Fun Fall Recipe!


The season of fall is upon us!  This means family and friends, cooking, and comfort food galore is in store for most of us.  Who said comfort food has to be unhealthy?  With this baked mac and cheese recipe, your dish will be both delicious and good for your body.

Cooking spray
12 oz of uncooked pasta (about 2.5 cups)
1/8 tsp table salt for pasta cooing water
10 oz uncooked broccoli, small florets (about 2.5 cups)
1 tsp salted butter
1/3 cup of fresh bread crumbs
3 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
2.5 cups of fat-free skim milk
1/3 cups of all-purpose flour
1/2 cup uncooked, diced onion
1 cup of low-fat shredded cheddar cheese
1 tsp of Dijon mustard
1.5 tsp table salt
1/2 tsp grounded black pepper

Preheat the oven to 375 F. Coat a shallow 2-quart baking dish with cooking spray.

Cook pasta in a large pot of lightly salted boiling water according to package directions, adding broccoli to the water 3 minutes before pasta will be done. Drain the pasta and broccoli and return to the pot.

Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, melt butter over medium heath, add bread crumbs and cook, stirring often, until light golden for about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and transfer crumbs to a small bowl. Stir in 1 tbsp of Parmesan cheese and set aside.

In same saucepan, whisk together the mil and flour under blended; add onion. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, whisking frequently. Reduce heat to low and simmer until thickened about 2 minutes.

Remove from heat and whisk in cheddar cheese, mustard, salt, pepper, and remaining 2 tbsp of Parmesan cheese. Pour over cooked, drained pasta and broccoli; toss to mix and coat.

Transfer to a baking dish and sprinkle top evenly with breadcrumbs. Bake until bubbly at edges, about 20-25 minutes. Divide into 8 pieces and serve. Yields 1 piece per serving.

You can find the complete recipe HERE.


Tips and Suggestions:
– Add peas and carrots to encourage further healthy eating habits
– Allow your child to add it each ingredients, but encouraging self-regulation by waiting patiently
– Messes are bound to happen! Encourage your child to wear an apron, but also explain throughout the process that after you are finished cooking, you will work together to clean.