September 23, 2015

Autumn Activities

As the leaves change from green to gold and the hot sun turns down the heat, the beginning of fall begins! The world around us shifts gears in the anticipation of the cold that waits around the corner. But what do we do in the meantime? Well I’m glad you ask!

Whenever the air begins to cool, I can’t help but think of a nice hot cup of apple cider. So, why not make it ourselves using a little science! All that is needed are some Apples, Cinnamon Sticks, A big pan, and a learning cap!

 For the hands-on kiddo’s that love the feel of basically everything, build an Autumn wonderland to explore. These sensory items will keeps them entertained for hours as they explore the world THEY create! This creative activity not only increases sensory skills, it also allows the imaginative side of the mind to expand in the world the child can create and explore. Even add some animals or action figures to further the exploration!

Another excellent learning opportunity could be digging into the complex world of plant life and understanding why leaves change colors or why leave stay green! This experiment is easy to complete and costs virtually nothing, don’t forget fascinating to watch! Dig into the valuable information and comprehend the anatomy of plant life.

July 22, 2015

July is Picnic Month!!!

It’s the month of picnics! July holds many favorable sun-filled days. We have ice cream day, hot dog day, dance day, but best of all, the whole month has been dedicated to picnics! So if you need an excuse to get out and enjoy the beautiful outdoors… here’s your ticket!

Picnics bring the family together and form lasting memories. However, since youngsters continually soak up their environment and never stop learning, why not throw a little lesson into the picnic basket?! There are plenty of fun activities and short lessons to engage in while enjoying ham sandwiches in the park.

The Education Department of Guam has a great website with lesson plans for early childhood education. Click this link for a PDF of terrific picnic activities and picnic-themed skill builders!

July 9, 2015

Road Trip Games Galore!


Once the miracle of actually getting everyone in the car for the road trip is achieved, the next miracle is trying to keep the peace in the back seat.

Here are some of the top picks from The Pencil Grip to keep the car (and your sanity) running smoothly.

1: Thinking of an Animal

This one is pretty straight forward, yet quite entertaining. One person in the car starts the round by stating “I’m thinking of an animal”. Then, each participant in the car takes turns asking one ‘yes’ or ‘no’ question to the personal who is “thinking of an animal”. Depending on the age of the people on the trip, the animals can range from a Cow, to a West African Black Rhino. Be warned, the tougher the animal, the more knowledge of that animal is needed!
2: Fortunately – Unfortunately
This game can get pretty wacky, but when you are 2 hours in with 12 hours left, wacky may just be the ticket! The game starts off with someone stating an Unfortunate sentence. “Unfortunately, all my chickens flew the coop.” Then, another person states a Fortunate sentence to combat the Unfortunate one. “Fortunately, I have an army of chicken catchers!” The wackier the sentences are, the funnier the game can be!

3: Team Storytelling
This is a great game for letting the creative side of the mind run free. There are 2 variations that can be done when playing. The first one is where the team of storytellers takes turns telling the story word by word. For example, one person says “once” the next says “upon” then next says “a” the next says “time” and the story bobs and weaves from there. The other variation is where one person says “once upon a time” and the next person says “there was a princess in a castle” and on it goes.

4: When I go camping
This game is pretty insane in the membrane! This memory based game not only burns time, but it also builds memorization skills all at once. The game is played where each member of the ride takes turns adding to the mental list of items you bring while camping. But the trick is that each person needs to recall what was previously said before they can add to the list of camping items. For example: One person starts the game by saying “when I go camping, I bring a flash light.” The next person needs to recall the previous items stated before they can add-on to the list. “When I go camping, I bring a flash light and a fishing pole”. The next says “When I go camping, I bring a flash light, fishing pole, and a tent.” And the list grows and grows until someone forgets an item on the list.
5: Concentration
Similar to ‘When I go camping’, Concentration builds memorization as well as thinking on your feet! This game has a rhythm as well as a rhyme to start the game. The rules of the game dictate that a category must be chosen, such as ‘clothing’, and then each person of the game begins saying articles of clothing to the beat of the game. If the person does not say an article of clothing in the designated time, or repeats an article of clothing that has already been said, that person is eliminated until a winner has been crowned and the game restarts. Once a person is eliminated the category switches to something else. The rhythm of the game goes (Thump, Thump) (clap clap clap). The rhyme at the beginning of the game goes: “Concentration (clap clap clap) 64 (clap clap clap) no repeats (clap clap clap) or hesitations (clap clap clap) category is (clap clap clap) clothing (clap clap clap).” Then the articles of clothing begin to rattle off to the beat of the game.

Have fun with these games and may the traffic be in your favor!

June 30, 2015

Water Play!

Summer is here…the birds are chirping, bicycle bells ringing, and children are squealing…the sounds of summer have finally arrived. Along with summer come the high temperatures and hopefully some backyard fun!

How can a parent encourage learning and outdoor fun for the kids? What if you want to keep cool? You’re in luck! There are hundreds of wonderful activities that combine sensory play and a little science, but we have narrowed the selection down to a few winners:

1) Ice Boats
This fun and unique activity allows for a cheap way to spend the day letting the little ones race their ice boats around while they slowly melt into bright fantastic colors.

2) Ice World
The activity brings the arctic world to your own backyard. This ice world sets the stage for a creative atmosphere where the imagination runs wild.

3) Magic Ice
Notice a theme? This gem of an activity brings the world of a laboratory into the safe summer outdoor experience. Using the same method of the baking soda and vinegar volcano, the magic ice bubbles and stews as the vinegar hits the surface of the baking soda filled ice.  

4) Good’ol Water balloons.
Not only are they a summer classic, but they can serve as fine motor practice for the kids! Under-fill the water balloon slightly and stretch out the base of the balloon and have a water balloon tying lesson. This activity will increase their fine motor skills as well as reduce the time it takes to tie all those suckers!!

June 22, 2015

The Effects of Technology

Now-a-days technology has become integrated into every nook and cranny of the lives of the IGen… that’s the new title for the current generation of youngsters. I-phones, I-pads, Tablets and gaming devices are in the hands of most young people today. What are the benefits and what are the down sides?

Research shows that children who use social media cites extensively have a shifted perspective on the world around them. They tend to have less of an internal drive and more of an external drive. For example, they now ask questions like “how will other people perceive me?” and “how can I make those perceptions positive?” Some undesirable implications of this can relate to self-promotion, a decrease in empathy and excessive impression management. To name a few.

However, don’t throw the mallet through the screen just yet.

Social media cites allow the bonds of friendship to span vast amounts of space and countless years beyond where they would if the internet didn’t exist. Social events cycle through news feeds along with the promotion of things like disease prevention activism and community service opportunities.

Positive implications of all of the above can be healthy self-expression, closeness with far away family members, increased participation in charitable activities and increased awareness of social gatherings & current events. To name a few.

A Kaiser Foundation study shows that the young spanning from 8 – 18 use technology over 7 hours a day on average!* Research shows that this is an excessive amount of time. Also, it is suggested that parents stay involved and confirm that their child is making constructive choices and garnering the positive results listed above.

When it comes to the complex management of “screen time” with your pre-teens and teens, there are multiple schools of thought regarding the fine point details. However, what every researcher can agree on is that what’s needed is BALANCE.


June 8, 2015

Critically Important Play

There’s common knowledge circulating through the vast network of parents that support the idea that play is an essential part of a child’s development. But have we ever stopped to think about what those benefits actually entail? Studies specifically focusing on the effect of play in children support the claims that play aids in developing social skills, complex problem solving skills, and increased attention in class. “Engaging in play serves a critical role in young children's social, affective and cognitive development.” (Jeffrey M. Halperin, Ph.D) This time of imaginative play give the child an opportunity to explore the recesses of their mind and express it to the world.

Imaginative play doesn't only aid the child in expressing themselves, it also aids in parent-child relationships. When a parent chooses to partake in the imaginative world of the child, the parent is blessed with being able to see what is inside their son or daughter’s mind. This then allows the parents to guide and suggest what is moral and immoral in a safe playful atmosphere. So, the next time you see your kid building a fort out of blankets, or crafting a rocket-ship out of Legos, roll up your sleeves and dive on in to their world of imagination. 

June 2, 2015

Fine Motor Skills

Do you remember the first time you showed your mom or dad how you can tie your shoes all by yourself? There’s a lot more going on than just a boosted ego for a kid when they are able to tie their own shoes. Believe it or not, the ability to tie a shoe relates to the level of fine motor skill a child possesses. But why is that so important?

During the summer it can be tough to get kids to keep up their fine motor practice when the great out-doors call their name. However, the need for continual practice proves vital for a child’s confidence as well as their success in the academic world. Fine motor skills ranges from the ability to button a shirt, typing on a keyboard, to writing and drawing. As I’m sure you may know, getting a kid to sit down and write an essay during the summer is like trying to give a cat a bath. So how can a parent bring the fun to an essential part in a child’s development? Here are a few helpful hints:

Fine motor skills and creativity combined! -

Try Painting a little flower with a tiny sponge! -

Have some free wall space? Try a marble maze! -

While we are still on the marble craze, try this! -

May 21, 2015

Memorial Day 2015

     Looking for something new and innovative for you and the kids to do this Memorial Day Weekend? Whether rain or shine these actives will engage the brain creatively, pave a way for patriotic conversations, and open a barrel of fun. This weekend is reserved for a time to appreciate the ones who have fallen in order to give us the chance to enjoy the freedom we have. Some fun facts to highlight this occasion stem from Waterloo N.Y May 5th 1866 where for the first time, businesses closed their doors so that everyone could lay American flags next to the graves of the fallen. Then in 1971, Congress chose to move the holiday to the last Monday in May in order to provide a 3 days weekend for the public. So in remembrance of the brave men and women of our Country, take some time and enjoy the company of friends and family with fun activates like Egg-Carton Uncle Sam, or building your own Patriotic Wind Sock!

To the Fallen, Thank you for your service. 

Egg-Carton Uncle Sam

Patriotic Wind Sock

April 2, 2015

A Healthier Easter

Over the Easter holiday, the average child will consume approximately 5000 calories from junk food.  Holidays can be challenging times to encourage healthy eating for your child.  This can be especially true if your child has a food sensitivity or allergy. Easter sweets and traditional foods are packed with dyes, chemicals, and allergens.  

So how can we keep children healthy & happy, this Easter?

Here are some articles that help tackle Easter baskets and foods when it comes to sugar, additives, and allergens.


March 12, 2015

5 Fine Motor Crafts for St. Patrick's Day

St. Patrick’s Day is great fun for crafts. While you’re having a blast, why not structure the crafts around building critical Fine Motor Skills? Here are five awesome activities that help celebrate the luck of the Irish and build strength in those pinchers!

Yarn Wrapped Rainbow

Rolling Pin Shamrock Printing

Irish Soda Bread

Playdough Shamrocks

Pot O’ Gold

Find our product selection: 

March 3, 2015

March is National Craft Month!

Whether it be in the classroom or at home, crafting provides a great opportunity to spend time with loved ones, while getting the creative juices flowing and challenging children to be resourceful all while letting their imaginations run!  From making their favorite cartoon characters out of household items, to creating something entirely new and unique, crafting provides a unique snapshot into the development of your child, and is also an opportunity for self-expression. The benefits of crafting include: bonding time, reducing stress, improving motor skills, and fostering creativity and expression.
        For more on National Craft Month, visit
        For crafting ideas for children with special needs:

        For ideas on how to reuse old items in your crafting:

January 16, 2015

In 2015, Los Angeles will host the Special Olympics- an event that celebrates individuality and uniqueness, the human spirit, and inclusiveness.  The Special Olympics seeks to empower athletes with disabilities, and to inspire everyone to focus on what we are capable of doing and what we do have, rather than our limitations. 
In the spirit of the Special Olympics, perhaps a New Year’s Resolution should be putting aside time for play with our loved ones.  There are many benefits to play, especially for children.  And for children with disabilities, this is equally true.  

These benefits include:

·         Fostering creativity,
·         Building relationships,
·         Balancing muscle groups
·         Improving self-esteem and coping with stress,
·         Fostering and maintaining independence,
·         Developing “Executive Function”
·         Improving the quality of life.

For more information about the Benefits of Play, visit
For more information about executive function, visit

Here are some resources and insights from various sources that serve to point out the value of play, as well as ways to make it and keep it a priority of your child’s upbringing.

Top Sites for Fitness for Children with Special Needs

Exercises and activities for kids with disabilities …

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention presents "BAM! Body and Mind," a site that encourages kids to be more active. Look for advice about staying active when there’s a disability involved, and find stories about athletic achievement. Another page discusses exercising when kids have asthma.

The Alliance for Technology Access describes a variety of activities and settings that can be adapted for children of all physical ability levels, including dance and movement, playgrounds and bicycles.

For activity programs …
Special Olympics offers sports and athletic information for people with intellectual disabilities. Read about their Young Athletes program, designed to help get children as young as two years old be physically active. Use the Young Athletes Activity Guide to find activities, complete with illustrations, demonstration videos and tips. 
For support resources …

National Center on Physical Activity and Disability (NCPAD) discusses the benefits of physical activity for children with disabilities, as well as the fears and obstacles that come with trying to be physically active.

Be sure to check with a physician before starting any exercise routine with your child, so you will be aware of any risks your child faces and to get familiar with proper safety precautions.

Photo Courtesy Michael Abrams, Stars and Stripes 2011