Springing into April!

by Florence B.

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Wow; is it really April already? This must be a case of time flies when you’re having fun, because we’re certainly having fun over here at BFCP! By the way, slow clap and approving nod to the curriculum team for sneaking in a surprise week-ish long, sneak attack-ish (and I get the memos for both months so I should be surprise-proof!), super fun, dramatic play area makeover! Our airport turned into a little shoe store that was a HUGE hit! Kiddos had fun trying on different types of shoes and showing off their stylish footwear on a little stage. Soccer cleats, tap dance shoes, boots, fun socks, and more…these kiddos got to do some feet measuring and decorating!

After that short surprise, the curriculum team proved they still have the magic touch by transforming our dramatic play area into a little farm house and garden! Make sure you check out the chicken coop for some eggs, pick some vegetables from the garden, and whip up something tasty to eat in the kitchen area. As one budding BFCP chef commented, “I’m going to make egg soup for everyone!” Some familiar costumes from Halloween are back, including overalls for farmers, a bumblebee dress for…umm… two-legged bees, and butterfly wings for the little butterflies who can’t resist picking the flowers in the garden! Also, make sure the sheep don’t escape their pen, but do take the horses on a stroll!

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Well, the farm house and garden dramatic play area should give you a hint for some of the other themes to expect this month. Look for Spring, Eggs and Chickens, and Gardening themes throughout the month. For the older two classes, get ready to share interesting seeds or plants and then also anything alive like plants, insects, or eggs!

Speaking of the 2/3 and PreK classes, get ready for a double-dose of excursion fun in April! The older two classes already got to enjoy the first excursion at Adventure Children’s Theater in Country Village on April 2nd! If that sounds familiar (this is actually a make up excursion from January). The second excursion will happen at the end of the month; the kids will go on a Spring Farm adventure over at Oxbow Farm & Conservation Center. Their mission statement says the center “inspires people to eat healthy, sustainably grown food and to steward our natural resources for future generations.”

Aaaaaaand what a great way to transition into the All School Meeting since our speaker, Julie Miller, will be discussing strategies for raising lifelong healthy eaters! You can get a sneak peek by checking out her site here: harmonioustable.net or you can just read this little quote from the site: “At this table, children and adults sit down to savor mealtime, together. Everyone here is genuinely present, eating with appreciation, talking peacefully and sharing the highlights of their day. The food is whole, clean, appetizing and delicious. There are no cell phones or tablets. No one is rushing to move on. The people are engaged as their bodies and minds are nourished.

This is The Harmonious Table. Pull up a chair.” This will be at Inglewood Presbyterian Church at the end of the month. Also, this meeting will be the last chance to turn in committee job preference for the 2018/19 school years, so don’t forget!

Phew, those are the big items for the blog, buuuuut there are still so many important notes to note! So, here we go:

1) April 9 - 13 is Spring Break; there is no school this week! However, the fun doesn’t stop if the school’s closed so make some class playdates!

2) April 20 is shopping day! Umm… I mean, the BFCP online auction starts up, and the link will be available through the Member’s Only page of the website. This is like a triple of BFCP awesomeness since you get to get a great deal on an item, raise money for BFCP, AND use a percentage of your winning bid towards your fundraising obligation total. See? Triple. Awesomeness.

3) April 21 is party time!!!!! Well, Spring Work Party, but still fun, right? For a blast from the Fall past, here’s the blog post about that Fall fun. It’ll be from nine to noon in the morning, so see you there (unless you already went to the Fall Work Party already or paid the $75 buy-out fee)!

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4) April 28 is the day to hang out at The Hangar in Kenmore for the BFCP Screen Free Week Kick Off Event *throws confetti*. And I quote from the amazing organizers: “The goal of this event is to give families with children 0-5 some tools to understand the benefits of turning off their devices, along with some tools to make it easier to do so.” So come on out from 10:30 am to 1:30 pm to help spread the word about going screen free (and maybe learn some new strategies as well)! If you’re free to volunteer that day, check the Weekly Squeak for the signup link!

Well, there you have it! Our penultimate school month is packed with fun (and by the way, how often do we get to use the word “penultimate”?! Score!)! Feel free to shout out in the comments below or email me at blog@bothellfamilycoop.org if you have any feedback!

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Busy with Busy Bags

by Florence B. 

The inspiration behind this post comes from a conversation I had with a friend who also has a toddler. She lamented that she takes the time to set up fun stuff for her kiddo…to only have a bored toddler after about 10-15 mins. That meant she needed more time to set up another fun activity. Ten to fifteen minutes later, I’m guessing you can figure out what came next…time to set up another activity. And of course, this is all happening during the desperate attempt to make dinner without buuuuuuurning it again.

So, I asked her if she’s ever heard of busy bags. I mean, really, 10-15 min attention span? No problem with busy bags! You’d think I’d offered her the Holy Grail, because she had never heard of busy bags! If you know what busy bags are, I’m sure you’re thinking, “Ah, I do love busy bags” as you reminisce about that magical busy bag moment when your child was playing by him/herself as you slowly backed away like someone trying to not spook a horse. If you don’t know what a busy bag is…well, reader, you’re in luck with today’s post!

OK, busy bags. Think of them as little repeatable activities stored in baggies, which you can pull out whenever your kiddo needs entertaining. You can bring them on planes, in cars, at restaurants, at the doctor’s office, or even just in your own living room! You create the little activities so they’re totally customizable with what you’ve got lying around the house and what you want your kiddo to learn and practice! If you search “Busy Bags,” you’ll find so many fantastic ideas! Even better, grab some friends and have a “Busy Bag Party!” After all, at BFCP, you already have a class of friends with similar aged kids, so go for it!

I’ve had the awesome luck to be part of two busy bag exchange groups—one in a large toddler group setting (where each mom made sixteen copies of the same busy bag ahead of time and then passed them out to the other fifteen moms at a set time so we all ended up with sixteen unique bags) and another as a small playdate (where we all brought materials to make our busy bags to pass out at the end of the playdate). The awesome thing about forming a busy bag group is that you can buy materials in bulk/packs, only have to focus on creating one item multiple times, and you can get the benefit of having so many different ideas go into your final busy bag collection!

So enough talk, how about some pictures to give you some ideas to get your own busy bag collection growing?! First note: I am not a Pinterest mom! You do not need to be a Pinterest mom with amazing artistic/creative skills to make busy bags! In fact, all the pictures you’ll see are straight from my busy bag collection and made from other moms who just love their kids and want to make fun activities for them (you know, like you, if you’re still reading this post!). Second note: since many of these are from other moms, I have no idea where to reference where these ideas came from so sorry in advance if there’s a certain printable you adore and want to find out where it came from!

 

1. Busy Bags: Different Levels of Complexity Yet All Are Tons of Fun.

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Let’s start out with the fact that busy bags can be easy to make or require a bit more effort/materials to make! Here are four examples where let’s face it, the top two were probably made by Pinterest moms or at least moms who are familiar with making busy bags! In the pizza box busy bag, this mom even provided pizza boxes and cups for the “toppings,” which is where

buying in bulk/packs/lots for a busy bag group comes in handy! She also made the pizza and toppings out of felt (again, great if making a bunch and you have a rhythm going) and made some recipe cards to truly make a game out of this busy bag! This is a great little idea that can last over time since you can just make pizzas or add in the cards for older kiddos learning math skills! Also, don’t feel like you need to make recipe cards all by yourself; many of these can be found as a printable ready for you to print (in fact, here’s a link with some more ideas and a set of pizza recipe cards right here for you). 

The second busy bag is another perfect example where you can buy pieces in packs for a busy bag exchange party! Here we’ve got pom poms, tongs, silicone cupcake cups, and the potential for some much fun and learning! In this little game, kiddos match pom pom colors to the cups. For an added challenge, use the tongs!

In the third example, this mom made a quick and easy memory game out of foam stickers and foam cards—easily customizable depending on what foam stickers delight your kiddo! The fourth example is so perfect of something surprisingly entertaining! With this easy to make activity, kiddos can practice some fine motor skills matching the nut to the correct bolt and spinning them on and off.

 

2. Clothes Pins and Popsicle Sticks

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Yeah…some of these picture groupings don’t really make sense, but since clothes pins and popsicle sticks are both made from wood, I’m going for it! Here are some more examples where you can buy in packs for a busy bag exchange group. Notice how you don’t really have to do a super stellar handwriting job on the clothes pins and popsicle sticks to have a fun activity! The third example has little black velcro pieces, in case you were wondering what those were, so they can be stuck together and made into shapes! In this case, they’re little pens for animals. Another variation for younger kiddos is to print out shapes directly for them to put the popsicle sticks on.

 

3. Stringing, Chains, And More…

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…also known as the three pictures I had leftover after grouping the others. Again, these are some more great examples (well, the 1st and 3rd) of how buying in lots/packs for a busy bag exchange group works out! The mom in the first example cut up pool noodles to make a large scale fun version of stringing beads on a string! She also used circles made from cardboard boxes as a stopper at the end, so that shows busy bags don’t have to be fancy to be fun! My kiddos also had fun stacking the rings on each other and then dropping beads/pom poms in the hole!

The second example shows how velcro and felt strips can be fun. Another variation of stringing and felt is to cut out felt shapes with a slit in the middle to be strung on a piece of ribbon. Finally, the last picture is three busy bags that I ended up combining since the materials were similar! With this set, kiddos can string the beads on the pipe cleaner, make shakers by putting beads in the plastic eggs, and match bead colors to the plastic eggs (there are actually several more pipe cleaners and eggs not shown in pic).

 

4. Print and Laminate!

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I only learned earlier this year that a basic laminator machine can be picked up for $20! Well, guess what I got and haven’t regretted?! Getting a laminator made my busy bag collection grow quite a bit since there are so many more things to be made without worrying about getting destroyed with repeated use. Here are some fun examples of print and laminate games.

The middle example shoes how you can also customize the games. The ladybug example is supposed to be a color matching one, but I added some stickers to form letters when matched up properly. The third example is actually a printable for scissor skills that I repurposed into a matching puzzle game. Once you have a laminator in hand (er…on table?), you can get started searching for “printables” if you think this is a style of busy bags that you like!

 

5. Buying from the Store Is Sooooo Not Cheating.

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Guilty confession: these examples aren’t homemade and were pretty much ready to go at the store! While I love making busy bags since they won’t break the bank, there are some fun activities already out there if you can find them! The first example is one I found at the dollar store (yes, all three lacing cards with 3 laces!) and perfect to add to my busy bag collection! The second example is a busy bag with only nine of the original twenty-six cards since we lost a card and I realized my toddler enjoyed this activity much more when not overwhelmed by so many options. Don’t forget to check out those bargain bins and incomplete toy sets since you might just find some busy bag possibilities for cheap!

Just a warning, the beauty of busy bags is that the activity is reusable and easy to rotate through to keep your kiddo entertained! Getting already built play packs with coloring books and markers are typically one-time use and repurchasing can really add up over time! Although I have an activity bag that I take places to keep my kids entertained, I’d say that 25% of that is the non-reusable stuff (i.e., play pack sets, coloring books, stickers, note pads, etc.) and the other 75% is reusable busy bag stuff that I occasionally swap out to keep interesting!

Well, I hope this post inspires you to get your busy bag collection started (or help give ideas to grow it!)! If you’re ready to dive in and want some more examples, there are so many sites to give you great ideas! Consider forming a busy bag exchange group for even more fun (like ask your BFCP class!)!

Here are a few links to get you started:

- “Ultimate Guide of Busy Bag Ideas – 100+ Ideas Sorted by Category” from Powerful Mothering

- “OVER 100 AWESOME BUSY BAGS PERFECT FOR TODDLERS AND PRESCHOOLERS” from B-Inspired Mama

- “Busy Bags 101 — and Lots of Busy Bag Ideas!” from Teaching Mama

Thanks for stopping by! Shout out in the comments below if you know an amazing link with busy bag ideas or if you have a favorite busy bag idea you’d like to share!

Marching into March

by Florence B.

Wow, time sure is flying by fast! How is it March already? Well, if you haven’t registered for a spot for the 2018-2019 school year, make sure you reserve your spot soon! Registration is now open for everyone, so please let your friends know it’s time to get excited about getting a spot for one of next year’s classes!

By now, I’m sure everyone has seen the amazing dramatic play area (and if you haven’t, don’t worry, I have some pictures)! Ok, let’s just say that the curriculum team deserves a medal for all their designs, and this one is definitely one of my favorites! Ready to fly the open skies? Welcome to the BFCP Airport! Where should we go today?

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The pictures don’t do justice to how cute this set up is! I love all the little details that the curriculum team included. There are little luggage tags on the luggage, a pet carrier to take a pet on the flight, and a metal detector that actually swings so the kiddos can put it where they want for just a few examples! I got a huge kick out of the flight control panel. Did you notice the calculators attached to the wall?! How can you not fall in luuuurve with this setup?! Oh, and I have another reason for you as to why being part of a Co-Op is awesome—the 3/4 and PreK classes got to meet an Alaskan Airlines pilot and hear about his job! How are Co-Ops and pilots connected? Well, that awesome AA pilot is also one of our awesome PreK dads!

You’ll also see plenty of “Things that Go” books along with plenty of flying in the sky books, but let’s give a special call out to our author of the month: Donald Crews! My kids absolutely love his Freight Train book, which is also one of the 1979 Caldecott Honors books. That’s right, 1979! I guess it’s pretty timeless since kids still love this book almost 40 years later (and since it still hits top lists like New York Public Library’s “100 Great Children’s Books | 100 Years” at https://www.nypl.org/childrens100, I guess adults love this book, too!)? Anyway, it’s hard to describe this simple book, so just check it (and the rest of Donald Crew’s books) out, and be amazed when your kiddo is highly entertained by it!

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Other themes you’ll see during March are Jobs that People Do, Wind and Weather, and Rainbows! The rainbow one will be sooo much fun since this is also interactive! The 3/4 and PreK classes will be “eating the rainbow” during the week of March 12th! Kiddos will bring one piece of whole fruit to share with the class, and then the PreK class will go even further by creating a graph of all the different fruits brought to class (go go early math!). On March 14th, it’ll be rainbow day for the older 2 classes, which means wearing rainbow colors to school! On March 16, the 2/3 class will have “Green Day,” so don’t forget to wear something green to school!

Well, I talked about the rainbow and the color green, how about the color red?! As in Fire Station red!! I’m so excited for this: this month, the toddlers and 2/3 classes are going to…wait for it…wait for it… are you ready for it…FIRE STATION 51 in Kenmore!!! Oh, there are just not enough exclamation marks in the world for this excursion!

*Phew* well, we have so may wonderful things going on during school, how about after school for our evening parent ed? On March 21, get ready for our our PAC All Schools Speaker: Julietta Skoog! This will be held in the Shoreline Community College Theater, and she’ll discuss Positive Discipline! You can check her out at her website here.

Here’s a quick quote from her website: “Learn to discipline with firmness and kindness, have fun as a parent, and set the foundation for important social and life skills.”

Well, I hope you’re enjoying March so far and looking forward to some fun and interesting topics ahead for you! If you have any feedback or thoughts to share, feel free to comment below or email me at blog@bothellfamilycoop.org!

Kitchen Science

by Florence B.

We’re half-way through the mid-winter break, and I hope you’re having fun trying new things and revisiting the old ones! For this mid-month blog post, I decided to do kind of a second part to my mid-Nov blog post “Playing with Your Food” and continue with “Kitchen Science!” Let’s face it, whenever educators talk about STEM, high-level science experiments, computer science activities, and other other high-level engineering topics are probably the first things that come to mind. Well, STEM fun at home doesn’t have to be all about expensive science kits that get mailed to you; you can have science fun with stuff you find in your kitchen!

There are tons of fun kitchen science ideas you can find online or in books, but here are some of my favorite experiments for little ones to get you started! The best thing about kitchen science is that it’s so adaptable! You can adjust depending on the level of what your kids can do, and for many of the experiments you can change ingredients depending on what you’ve got lying around in your cupboards. So, shall we get started? Here are five easy and fun kitchen science experiments!

A) Sink or Float with Orange Buoyancy:

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Let’s start with a surprisingly fun kitchen experiment where all you need is water and some delicious citrus fruit that’s pretty much a staple in any household with a kid! Get ready to play some ‘sink or float’! This one is great for our smallest friends, because a) it’s water play and b) a clementine/mandarin/orange is involved!

For this experiment, it’s pretty simple: do you think the orange will float in the water? Let your kiddo make a hypothesis (or gnaw on the fruit depending on age) and then put it in a container of water and watch your citrus sail the high seas (or container, whatever). Next, let your little one peel the orange and then put that orange in the water and watch that peeled anchor sink!

“Wait!” your kiddo asks. “What’s the deal with that?!”

“Well,” you say with a knowing smile. “The peel is the orange’s floatie, just like floaties help you swim in the pool. Since we took off the floatie, the orange sinks.”

“Ah, what a wise parent. You know so much,” you wish they would say, but let’s face it, this dialog is fantasy.

Well, you can pretty much stop here, because you have an unpeeled orange, a peeled one, plenty of peelings, and a container of water that your kiddo can play with. But…if you’d like even more of a challenge for older kids, here comes the even more fun experimentation part! Can your kiddo peel *just enough* for buoyancy and gravity to balance somewhere between totally sinking to the bottom and floating at the top? Can your kiddo peel enough for the orange to sink…and then remove some of the orange slices so it floats back up again?

B) Naked Egg & Osmosis

This one is a short and simple experiment with a lot of downtime. First, have your kiddo touch an egg and figure out if it’s hard or soft. Next, leave that egg in a container full of vinegar and watch that calcium carbonate egg shell wither away into nothingness. This is actually interesting to watch as you’ll see bubbles form as that poor shell gets dissolved away. Now, like I wrote earlier, there is a lot of downtime. After your 10 second shell toughness check, you can pretty much stick this back into the fridge for the next 24 hours while the vinegar works it’s magic—um…science.

If all works out well, you’ll have a naked egg with only a membrane surrounding it! If not, change the vinegar solution into a fresh vinegar solution, and cough awkwardly as you put the eggs back into the fridge informing your little one that you’ll need to wait a little bit longer. Back to assuming that all worked out well, this is when you do another hardness test to see that your hard egg has turned into a little softie!

So that’s it, pretty easy! Don’t forget to wash all hands involved since this is a raw egg experiment! You can take this experiment even further (with more downtime) by experimenting with osmosis. You can stick your egg into a cup of corn syrup and see what happens the next day. If you have multiple eggs, stick them in various liquids, and see what happens to each of the eggs. Since you’ve been soaking your eggs in vinegar, that’ll be your control. Can you figure out which liquids make your egg plump up and which ones deflate (tip: distilled water and corn syrup are probably the easiest way to see the biggest difference)?

C) Magic Milk

For this dairy experiment, you’ll need milk (the fattier, the better!), food dye, toothpicks, and dish soap. In a wide dish:

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1) put a thin layer of milk down,

2) drop a few drops of food dye in different spots,

3) dip a toothpick in some dish soap,

4) put the toothpick in the center of the drops in the milk, and

5) watch those fireworks go!

If you have an older kiddo, this one is great for exercising those fine motor skills, because you need to get the soapy toothpick end in each dot fast! For younger kids who can’t quite do that, even swirling around the toothpick and hitting each dot will be artistic fun! What’s going on here? You’ve got milk fat and soap molecules rushing through the crowd of milk proteins and other stranger molecules to find each other like long lost friends. And there are a LOT of these molecules searching and bonding. At once. Poor food coloring—all it did was get in the way!

D) Ice and Freezing Fun:

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Ah, ice. Simple, yet so often overlooked. With melting experiments, you can actually buy yourself time to make dinner. In. Peace. Perfect over the summer, your kiddos can cool down while playing with melting ice. Freeze a block of ice. Supply salt. Supply warm water. Supply cold water. And of course, supply whatever fun supplies you can find in your drawers: medicine droppers, spoons, brushes, straws. Let your kiddos see how their block of ice changes over time as they experiment with what they’re given! For older kiddos who want a challenge, freeze some items like beads (pro tip: freeze in layers so all your beads aren’t at the bottom or top) and have your kiddo rescue the beads with the given supplies! Does the salt help melt the ice? Why isn’t the warm water warm anymore? There are so many fun ways to explore!

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And then if your kiddo is over melting and wants to explore freezing, try a freezing experiment where you try to figure out what liquids freeze first! Your kiddo will get to see how different items freeze at different rates, and you’ll realize you have a lot more liquids in your fridge and pantry than you first thought! If you use a small enough ice tray, you’ll start noticing differences as soon as 15 mins!

E) Wizards Brew

Great for a Halloween themed experiment, you can make Wizard’s Brew or Witch’s Potion (although this is so much fun any time of the year!). Think erupting volcanos. For this one, you’ll need vinegar, baking soda, and dish soap at a minimum. All you need to do is:

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1) fill up a container with vinegar,

2) add dish soap,

3) add baking soda, and

4) have fun watching your kiddos laugh!

What’s going on here is that you have the vinegar and baking soda chemically reacting to create Hydrogen Peroxide. When that occurs, Carbon Dioxide gas is formed and gets trapped in the dish soap, making bubbles! Lots. Of. Bubbles! You can add glitter or food coloring for some added fun. You can change the containers and make different effects (you can even use a Jack-O-Lantern during Halloween!).

To get different reactions, you can try changing what liquid soap you use, how much baking soda you add (dump a lot or little sprinkles), stirring the mix (do bubbles form faster?), or drop in different colors of food coloring without mixing and see what colors you get! Even if your kiddo isn’t old enough to understand the chemical reactions going on, they’ll LOVE all the insta-bubbles!

For older kiddos or if you’re ready for more of a challenge, you can add yeast to the mix for a slower reaction that now has an exothermic effect (you’ll feel your container get warmer!). You can learn more about that HERE 

There you have it: five easy kitchen science experiments to get you started! If you have a favorite kitchen science experiment you’d like to share, shout out in the comments below! Feel free to email me at blog@bothellfamilycoop.org as well!

Loving February

By Florence B.

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Who can resist loving February when we get to celebrate Valentine’s Day! We also have a parent meeting where we can choose between TWO speakers covering sleep (oh, bliss!) and couple/family relationships (who can’t love that?!), class photos (these are the BEST!), mid-winter break, teddy bear picnics, and saving the best for last: REGISTRATION for 2018-2019 (*throws confetti*)! It’s a short month, so we’ve got to pack in as much fun as we can!

OK, so let’s start off with what our awesome curriculum team has in store for us, eh? For themes, you’ll see friendship, Valentine’s Day, Post Office, and Bears! Get ready for the dramatic play area to take on a new look for some Post Office fun! Know all those junk mail and catalogs that go straight to recycling? Bring them in to the BFCP Post Office where they’ll be put to good use! Those stickers and old envelopes you probably won’t ever use? The BFCP Post Office wants them!

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You’ll also notice some fun animal books by Sandra Boynton, our February Author of the month! Her short and simple stories are fun and perfect reading material for babies, toddlers, and preschoolers! If you haven’t had a chance to check out her books, Blue Hat, Green Hat (a turkey just can’t get dressed right, oops!), Are You A Cow (trying to figure out if the reader is an animal), and Opposites (works with singing, which is weird, but I somehow can’t read the book out loud without forming a tune) are favorites in our house and extra silly for young toddlers (and babies and older siblings and parents) to love! You can check out her website here.

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But what you’ll REALLY notice? Valentine’s Day! Woohoo! We’ve got lots of hearts, hearts for those hearts, and more hearts to collage and put on those hearts with a side of hearts and a splash of pink (no really, the water in the sensory table is tinged pink!)! For the older three classes, don’t forget to make your Valentine’s bag in the art room so you can get some Valentine’s Day mail from your friends! All this lovely, loving love leads us to our Valentine’s Day parties, complete with Valentine’s card exchanges (and don’t worry, you can dress up and not worry about any messy projects on party day)! The older 2 classes will celebrate on Valentine’s Day, the toddler and 2/3 class will celebrate the day after on the 15th, and finally the parent/baby class will party on Feb 16th!

Backing up a bit, a week before the party, everyone will get a chance to dress up for class photos! These are so much fun to have as a little keepsake to look back on! The class photo is $9 and worth it to have. Even if you’re not planning on buying any photos (individual or class), your kiddo is still DEFINITELY wanted to sit with the rest of the class for the class photo, so let them know ahead to SMILE (or POUT like my kiddos if that’s your kiddo’s picture thing!)! By the way, if you’re in one of the older 3 classes and don’t feel like brushing your hair that day or finding a shirt that doesn’t have a stain on it, don’t worry; only the kiddos and teacher will be in the class photo! For the toddler class parents, get ready to smile since you WILL be in the class photo, too (and don’t forget to match your socks since missing socks only happen on laundry day and days when you’re going to be immortalized not wearing shoes)! Unfortunately, the Parent and Baby Class won’t be doing a class photo, but our littlest friends can still stop by during the Thursday classes to get an individual photo done (so toddler and 2/3s classes, don’t forget to say hi to our smiling visitors)! The teachers aren’t planning any messy activities during picture day, so have fun dressing your best (although you’ll probably want to bring a change of clothes for outside time!!).

ALSO that week on Feb 7th, the 3/4s and Pre-K class are each having a Teddy Bear Picnic at Teacher Kathy’s home! What a fun excursion for our kiddos and their favorite teddy bears (or other stuffy, no toy discrimination here!).  

*Phew* let’s step out of class and switch over to some night time parent education! Thursday the 15th is our February parent meeting! There will be two speakers for you to choose from: Julie Kennedy will cover sleep (Gentle Sleep Coach) and Joan Niehaus will cover couple/family relationships! Julie’s website can be found here: if you’re curious what a Gentle Sleep Coach does. From her website, she writes that “The GSC approach is a gentler alternative for families who emotionally or philosophically resist letting their babies cry it out.” But let’s face it, when you’re checking out her website, you’re probably desperately searching for the secret to getting some sleep. Who knows…you may find it for your family! By the way, here’s a fun fact I just discovered last week, did you know that all our quarterly evening parent ed talks are held jointly with our sister co-op, Inglemoor Cooperative Preschool?! So, if you’re sure you’ve met everyone in BFCP and see a face you don’t recognize, don’t feel shy—make sure to say hi! Lastly, this meeting will be held at Inglewood Presbyterian Church from 6:30 PM to 8:30 PM; see you there!

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Alrighty, get ready for the. BEST. Part. Of. This. Post: Registration for the 2018-2019 school year!!(pretend there are 2,018 and 1/2 exclamation marks here for effect)!! If you’re already a member of BFCP and are planning on returning next year, registration opened last Monday, Feb 5 so go, go, go! In-house registration will run until Feb 16, so don’t delay in reserving your kiddo’s spot for next year! If you’re someone who will be new to the BFCP family, then welcome and make sure to snag a spot early! Registration for you will begin on Feb 26, and we’re excited to have you join us! If you find yourself on the waitlist for a spot you want (that happened to us last year for the 2/3 class), don’t fret! There is still plenty of time before the new school year starts for a spot to open up (ta da! Like the one for us did last year!). You can find more info on the Registration & Tuition page HERE.

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So here’s some more details about registration if you’re looking for some more in-depth coverage (if not, then go ahead and skip to the next, next paragraph!). If you’re a current member and are wondering how on earth are you supposed to register for next year—well, step 1 is: Check your email! If you’re in a class now, I’m sure you remember turning in some paperwork to secure your kiddo’s spot. Go ahead and put away that pen you managed to scrounge up from a dark corner of a drawer that your child has not yet discovered; BFCP is now doing online registration system for the 2018/2019 year! That means you will be getting a direct link in an email that gets you to your personal “family portal” (no username or password required, but this personalized link will expire, so hurry!). This new system also means registering will be quicker and easier than last year since most information will already be there (although don’t forget to verify and make corrections as needed)! So, if you find an unexpected email from Jovial, don’t delete it if you’re planning on registering (plus now you know what to expect so it’s no longer unexpected, yay!)! But, if you already deleted it or if your SPAM blocker works REALLY, REALLY well, then hop on over to www.jovial.org/bfcp/family and enter your email to get an access link.

ALUMNI! Don’t worry, I know you feel like you’re in a gray area since I’m mentioning current BFCP family and new member registrations—but you actually register when current in-house members do! So, get your access link and get registered! In fact, for anyone curious about how  kiddos are guaranteed a spot during the in-house registration, there’s an actual priority list of: “1) continuing students; 2) those students repeating a class; 3) those students skipping a class; 4) siblings of current students; 5) children of alumni. Thereafter, advanced registration shall be open to the general public based on space availability.” There you go, curiosity satisfied.

Finally, after talking about all the fun stuff to expect in February, I’ve got one last important bit of info for you; Mid-Winter Break is from Feb 19th to 23rd so don’t show up to school that week! And don’t worry, if you actually do and remember just as you pull into the parking lot, there’s always the nearby Bothell Library to visit to find a good book to read or the Park at Bothell Landing to get those winter wiggles out!

Wow, there’s a whole bunch of important dates up there so here’s a summary:

Feb 5 - In-house registration for current BFCP families begins (ends Feb 16)
Feb 6 - 3/4 and Pre-K school photo day
Feb 8 - 2/3 and Toddler school photo day (Parent & Baby welcome to take individual photos)
Feb 14 - 3/4 and Pre-K Valentine’s Day parties
Feb 15 - Toddler and 2/3 Valentine’s Day parties
Feb 15 - Parent Meeting at Inglewood Presbyterian Church from 6:30PM - 8:30PM
Feb 16 - Parent & Baby Valentine’s Day party
Feb 19 - Mid-Winter Break begins (ends Feb 23)
Feb 26 - Registration for 2018/2019 school year opens up to the community

There you have it! If you have any comments, feel free to shout below or send an email to blog@bothellfamilycoop.org

Real Life Ideas for How to Grab a Break

by Julia H.

Today we bring you segment 175,996 out of our infinitely long series of discussions about getting through tricky times with kids (after all, getting through the easy times is easy!). This time, we asked real members of the BFCP community what they do when they need a few minutes to breathe, reconnect, and calm themselves in those moments when your coping skills and normal routine just aren't cutting it. Here's mine - when I just need a bit of a breather, I take a few minutes to floss and brush my teeth. It probably sounds a little crazy, but it makes a big difference that I can't talk while I am doing it, because that gives me time to stop and think when I might otherwise yell or say something hurtful. Here are some other strategies being employed by people right here in our school - thanks to everyone who contributed their coping strategies!

  • "Occasionally I just put the kids in the bath in the middle of the day. It helps that my tub is bigger so it feels like a treat for them. But it keeps them contained for a bit."
  • "Sometimes if I need a break I pack everyone up and take a little drive to a park, coffee stand or store that a bit farther away than usual. We can still chat or listen to music but I get to SIT which is NICE. Plus the kiddos are restrained in the nicest way possible.  I also do the mid day bath time and it works like a charm."
  • "Especially if it's early on the morning I'll call a reset. Everyone goes back in their bed and we all get a few minutes to chill. When I'm ready, I open doors and give a super cheery good morning. I don't know why it works but it does for us."
  • "I was going crazy over the holidays with both [kids] home all day, every day and I found if I scheduled at least one activity outside of the house each day we all stayed a little bit more sane. Cabin fever is real!"
  • "Making sure the kids get time outdoors to run and play seems to help us."
  • "Sometimes just getting a simple task done - like taking the garbage out - is my way of taking a break. I also have a few activities that are a big treat for my kid but are truthfully my break time - playdough and a Rubbermaid sensory 'rice bin.' If I can’t take a break in that moment, planning when I will ask for/scheduling a break also helps me."
  • "I call a 'Dance Party' and lean on my favorite new friend Alexa. The music cranks out some of our current favorite dance tunes (currently Flying Purple People Eater, Fight Song, We Built This City, and Cupig Shuffle ) The kids all jump up and start dancing together and I can either 1. join them and dance away my frustration, or 2. Step in the other room and take a few minutes to myself while they everyone is engaged and happy."

How do you deal with overwhelming moments? Send us an email and your tips may be included in a future Squeak!

Rainy Season Activities for Kids Who Love Mud

by Julia H.

Hey, I don't know if you had noticed, but we're deep into rainy season, right in the thick of the chilly and drizzly bits, and still relatively short on daylight hours. At this point, I am running out of outside play ideas that are motivating enough for me to want to go outside. The kids are fine, naturally, but since they are still young enough to require some supervision, it helps everyone if I think the outside activities look fun, too. So, here are some ideas I found via the magic of internet search engines for stuff to do outside that sounds awesome:

  • Build a mud castle! Bust out those sand toys and find an awesome muddy spot.
  • Paint with mud. Lucky enough to have a fence? This is a great opportunity to cover it with mud!
  • Make a sculpture out of mud, sticks, rocks, and leaves.
  • Soup/potion-making - all you need is a bucket, a stick, and a good imagination!
  • Comparative Dirt Analysis - look for different types of mud and dirt, collect samples in small containers, and observe the differences and similarities between them.
  • Mud experiments: how long does it take for the mud to dry out? how much water does it take to turn it back into mud?
  • Mud pies - it's a classic, and you can encourage early math learning by sending along real measuring cups and spoons!

What games does your family love to play in the mud? Send us an email and your tips may be included in a future Squeak!

Sometimes You Just Get Mad

by Julia H.

I feel absolutely certain that all of the members of our preschool community are great parents (or, even if you aren't feeling like a particularly great parent, you're trying to be one). It's easy to come up with great parenting strategies when the kids are asleep (as mine were when I wrote this), but then they wake up and do unexpected stuff and, well, sometimes it makes you mad.

Hot lava mad. Steam boiling out of your ears mad. Thinking (but probably trying hard not to say out loud) the absolute worst, most hurtful things.

In moments of calm, it's easy to remember some of the things we learn from positive parenting - kids who misbehave are feeling disconnected, they just don't know exactly how to reconnect; it's more effective in the long run (and a better model for behavior) to respond with love and kindness...but how the heck do you do that?

The good news is that, as with any skill, you can get better at it with practice. Here are some simple guidelines that may help you manage your anger when your kids really push your buttons:

  • Break out of the angry feeling: everyone is going to have their own technique that will work best for them, but some I've tried include singing what I want to say in a silly voice instead of yelling, doing weird and crazy dance moves, and going and getting a glass of water. Pretty much anything that will break the escalating anger cycle would work.

  • Cool off: This is the hardest one for me, which probably means it's the most important - put yourself in time out, lie down on the spot and close your eyes, practice some yoga breathing exercises. Give your body an opportunity to process some of the adrenaline.

  • Come back and apologize: Once you've broken out of the anger of the moment, it's important to model the behavior you'd like to see in your kids. Oftentimes that means that you'll need to apologize. "I'm sorry, I really lost my temper. Can we try again to communicate and be on the same team?" 

Don't get down on yourself if you get mad sometimes - everyone does! And parenting is hard - you're tired (and probably dehydrated), you have huge amounts of intimidating responsibility, and your kids are still learning how to be nice - and are practicing the full range of manipulative behavior on you, because you are someone they know they can trust. It's a lot to deal with. But you can do this! 

(Quick reminder: Civil rights conversations aren't just for MLK Jr. Day! Maybe you could show your kids pictures of some of the grownup members of the preschool who marched on Saturday, and talk about why they did it?)

Let’s Read: Three Ways for You to Find Books!

by Florence B.

After writing my first January post and fan-girling over The Bear Snores On series, I realized I absolutely needed to do a blog post on books! We all know that reading is great for kids so let’s skip the why and instead jump straight into the where-do-we-find-books part! In today’s blog post, I’m going to let you know about our own little fledging kids’ books trading library here at Bothell Family Cooperative Preschool, Scholastic Reading Club orders through the school, and some reading programs from some of the local public libraries in our area! Let’s get started, because there’s no hesitating when it comes to going after new books (well, at least for me!)!

1) Kids Trading Library at Bothell Family Cooperative Preschool!

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Let’s start small and talk about our little growing library that was started a few months ago by our awesome outdoor teacher, Angela (by the way, if you missed her interview on the blog, you can find it HERE). This little collection is in the mud room in the blue bin labeled “BFCP Kids Lending Library.” Let your kiddo browse and find a new treasure to take home! When your family has outgrown a book, please consider donating it to this growing school program!

2) Scholastic Reading Club

If you haven’t had a chance to check out the Scholastic Reading Club, go check it out now (don’t worry, I’ll wait). New users will be prompted to make an account; if you decide to, make sure you link your account to Teacher Kathy Foster by either searching for her name or using the code NT8WP.

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So what’s the deal with this club? If you love books (and who doesn’t?!), the program gives great discounts since they offer paperback versions of popular children books, megapacks for bulk deals, and save on shipping since they don’t send to your home—they ship to the school. That last point also means that to be able to order through this program, you have to be affiliated with a school/classroom/teacher that’s signed up to be in the program AND you have to wait for the class order to come in (so keep an eye out for class order deadlines, since there’s no 2-day insta-shipping here!). Luckily, Bothell Family Cooperative Preschool is in the program! Personally, my family has built up our own mini-library at home for the kids by ordering the megapacks and taking advantage of dollar deals!

If you’re wondering why teachers take part in the club, the class (or school) collect points for every purchase made by the parents in the class order, which can then be spent to earn free books for the classroom and school! So, by ordering from the Scholastic Reading Club, you have the benefit of great deals that allow BFCP to earn more and more points to earn free items! Note that the best deals in the club are for the paperbacks, megapacks, and dollar books. Some of the hard cover books, board books, and cloth books sell close to retail, so shop wisely if you’re hunting for the best prices!

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Just to give an idea of what you can find, check out the image of some of their January Special Values offerings. I also included a screen shot of what you’ll find when you click an item for more info. For those of you who love the nitty-gritty details, you can find out the target age audience for a book as well as the reading level (GRL - don’t worry, the reading level didn’t just
growl at you. That really is a reading level indicator with “A” being the easiest and so on!). And of course, since the Bear Snores On series is available as a megapack, I had to use that as an example! Well, I actually had waaaay too many examples to show, but to keep this section from going crazy long, let’s just summarize by saying: Go check it now (go go, this post will still be here when you get back!).

3) Public Library Reading Programs

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Well, I can’t even begin to express my love for public libraries! First of all, you can go check out pretty much any book you want, and they even have ebooks for you to check out without leaving the comfort of your home. BUT, they also have THE. BEST. KIDS. PROGRAMS. EVER! So, go ahead and leave the comfort of your home to check out your local library kid programs—especially the Story Times, which are basically really long circle times. And then, when the program is over, you’re at the LIBRARY with sooooo many books for you and your little one(s) to choose from! Some of the story times also include a craft or bonus activity so you’ll definitely want to explore different libraries to see what they all have to offer!

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This section is definitely the hardest of the three to write since there’s so much I want to share with all of you about the local public libraries! Alas, the King County Library, Sno-Isle Library, and Seattle Public Library Systems are so large that I can’t cover all of them (which is a VERY good problem to have, amirite?!?!). So, I’ve picked out several libraries from each system that are in reasonable driving range of the school to give a quick-at-a-glance summary so you can hopefully find a program that’s interesting to you! Note that I found these using the libraries’ event search features, so these may change at any time (but hopefully this will still give you a head start for finding a program of interest for you!). Also, although there’s a target age listed below, many of the programs allow siblings, and all of the programs need an adult to accompany (i.e. no drop off story times!).

 

I) King County Library System

All right, let’s start off with good old KCLS since that’s the library system I’m most familiar with! BTW, notice that I had to move to Roman numerals for my sub heading?! *Yikes* lots of incoming info coming your way!

Woodinville Library
Young Toddler Story Time: ages 12 to 24 months; Wed 11:30AM - 12:00PM
Toddler Story Time: ages 2 to 3; Wed 10:30 - 11:00AM
Preschooler Story Time: ages 3 to 6; Tues 10:30 - 11:15AM
Family Story Time: all ages; Thurs 7:00 - 7:45PM
Foreign Language:
Spanish - all Ages; Tues 1:30 - 2:00PM
Insider Tip: This is one of my favorite libraries since they have an amazing outside exploration area targeted for young children that’s so much fun! You have to see it to really appreciate it; there’s a little “club house” with windows of different shapes and a tree growing inside (*wow* talk about a house plant!), little planters filled with edible plants, little paths (one with a little bridge), and more — definitely check out this library!

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Bothell Library
Infant Story Time: ages newborn to 12 months; Wed 11:00 - 11:30AM
Young Toddler Story Time: ages 12 to 24 months; Wed 10:00 – 10:30AM
Toddler Story Time: ages 2 to 3; Tues 11:00 – 11:30AM
Preschooler Story Time: ages 3 to 6; Tues 10:00 – 10:30AM
Foreign Languages:
Russian - all ages; Thurs 11:00-11:45AM
Spanish - all ages; Sat 11:00 - 11:30AM
Insider Tip: This library is soooooo close to the preschool so you may as well stop by!

Kingsgate Library
Infant Story Time: ages 3 to 11 months; Tues 10:00 – 10:30AM
Toddler Story Time: ages 12 to 36 months; Wed 10:00 – 10:30AM
Preschooler Story Time: ages 3 to 6; Wed 11:00 – 11:45AM
Foreign Language:
Japanese - ages 2 to 6; Mon 10:00 – 10:45AM
Insider Tip: Here’s a heads up that since the library opens at 10:00AM, if you like to get to story times early, you’ll be out of luck since you’ll have to wait outside until the library opens. They have a little outside area on the other side of the building, but it’s pretty small and not meant for hanging out for a long time—but it is still there!

Kenmore Library
Infant Story Time: ages newborn to age 2; Thurs 11:00 – 11:30AM
Toddler Story Time: ages 2 to 3; Thurs 10:00 – 10:30AM
Foreign Language: Spanish - all ages; Tues 3:30 - 4:00PM
Insider Tip: They have a fenced-in, outside rooftop area to explore that’s over the parking area — enough said!

Kirkland Library
Infant & Young Toddler Story Time: ages 6 months to 2 years; Tues 10:00 – 10:45AM
Toddler & Preschool Story Time: ages 3 to 5; Tues 11:00 – 11:45AM
Family Story Time: all ages; Wed 7:00 – 7:45PM
Foreign Language: Spanish - all ages; Fri 12:30 – 1:00PM
Insider Tip: They have an underground parking lot (and are also next to the Kirkland transit center if you feel like going on a bus ride!) and are right next door to a HUGE park!

Shoreline Library
Infant & Young Toddler Story Time: ages newborn to 24 months; Tues 11:00 – 11:30AM  
Toddler Story Time: ages 2 to 3; Tues 10:00 – 10:30AM
Preschooler Story Time: ages 3 to 6; Wed 10:30 – 11:00AM
Family Story Time: ages 3 to 6; Mon 6:45 – 7:30PM
Foreign Language: ages 3 to 6; Thurs 11:00 – 11:30AM

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Redmond Library
Infant Story Time: ages newborn to 12 months; Thurs 11:30 – 12:00PM
2 Toddler Story Times: ages 12 months to 3 years; Fri 10:15 – 11:15AM & Fri 11:15AM - 12:15PM
Preschooler Story Time: ages 3 to 5; Thurs 10:30 – 11:00AM
Family Story Time: all ages; Wed 7:00 – 8:00PM
Foreign Languages:
Hindi - ages 1 to 6; Sat 10:30 – 11:00AM
Russian - ages 1 to 6; Mon 11:00 – 11:30AM
Spanish - all ages; Tues 11:00 – 11:30AM
Chinese - ages 2 to 5; Wed 10:30AM – 12:00PM & ages 6 and younger; Tues 11:00 - 11:30AM
Arabic - all ages; Mon 11:00 - 11:30AM

 

II) Seattle Public Library System

Yes, yes. Those with observant eyes will notice I’m writing ‘branch’ instead of ‘library’ (good eye by the way) in this section, but that’s because I’m going by how each library system refers to them on their webpage. So, when in Rome…

Lake City Branch
2 Family Story Times: ages birth to 8 yrs; Mon 10:30AM - 12:00PM & ages birth to elementary school; Thurs 5:30 - 7:30 PM
Foreign Languages:
Spanish - all ages; Mon 6:00 - 6:30PM
Mandarin - all ages; 11:30AM - 12:00PM
Somali - all ages; 4:00 - 4:30PM

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Broadview Branch
Little Makers (Science Emphasis): ages 3-5; Thurs 6:00 - 7:00PM
Preschooler Story Time: all ages; Tues 10:30 - 11:30AM

Northgate Branch
Infant Story Time: age 0-12 months; Fri 10:15 – 10:45AM
Toddler Story Time: no age range specified; Thurs 10:15 – 10:45AM
Preschooler Story Time: ages 3 - 5; Thurs 11:15 – 11:45AM
Family Story Time: all ages; Sat 10:15 – 10:45AM
Foreign Language: Spanish - all ages; Tues 11:30AM - 12:00PM

 

III) Sno-Isle Library System

Lynnwood Library
2 Infant Story Times: ages newborn - 18 months; Tues 9:30 - 10:15AM & 10:30 - 11:15AM
Toddler & Preschooler Story Time: ages 2 - 6; Thurs 10:00 - 11:00AM
2 Preschooler Story Times: ages 3 to 5; Wed 9:30 - 10:15AM & Wed 10:30 - 11:15AM

Mountlake Terrace Library
Infant Story Time: ages newborn - 18 months; Thurs 10:00 - 11:00AM
Toddler Story Time: ages 19 - 35 months; Thurs 11:00AM - 12:00PM
Preschooler Story Time: ages 3 to 5; Wed 10:30 - 11:30AM
Foreign Language: Russian - ages 2 to 5; Mon 6:00 - 7:00PM

Brier Library
Toddler Story Time: ages 18 months to 3 years; Fri 11:00AM - 12:00PM
Preschooler Story Time: ages 3-5; Thurs 11:00AM - 12:00PM

So there you have it: three ways for some reading fun for us and our little learners! I hope you enjoy seeing what books our little trading library has to offer (as well as helping it grow), shopping with the Scholastic Reading Club, and exploring the many libraries that are an easy drive from the preschool! If you have any insider tips for any of the libraries above, shout out in the comments below! Feel free to email me at blog@bothellfamilycoop.org if you have any additional comments or ideas for future blog posts!

Talking to Kids About Martin Luther King Jr., Racism, and Civil Rights

by Julia H.

I've got good news for you! Right now, during the preschool years, generally between the ages of 3 and 5, is the time during which kids start categorizing the people in their community by race. This is also the age at which children begin to form what can become life-long racial stereotypes. While this may seem intimidating or even downright scary, this actually means that right now, while ensconced in the supportive environment of a cooperative preschool, you have the chance to help your child overcome the biases that are present in our culture, and helping them to become the sort of people who stand up for equality.

So...how, exactly, does one do that? It's a good question, and I'm glad you asked!
 

  • Talk explicitly about the fact that people with different skin colors are equally capable of doing the same jobs, having the same interests and hobbies, that they can be equally smart, etc. Research has demonstrated that the "colorblind" approach, where diversity is deliberately included in books and media (and especially in children's books and media), but not necessarily explicitly discussed, doesn't work. Specifically, in the absence of explicit discussions about race, kids tend to pick up on the cultural zeitgeist, with the result that longstanding racial biases will be maintained.

  • It's great to talk about the work of Martin Luther King, Jr. and his great work as an organizer and leader of the Civil Rights movement this week. It's also great to talk about MLK Jr. next week, and the week after that. It's also great to talk about the other prominent individuals who fought for equality in the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s, as well as to talk about the civil rights issues that various individuals and groups are working hard to address today - in other words, make this a topic you come back to, again and again, and don't be afraid to admit that there's still work to be done.

  • Talk about melanin! It might sound silly, but explaining that the same pigment that gives some people black hair, some people brown hair, some red hair, and some blonde hair...and the same pigment that gives some people blue eyes, some green, and some brown...that same pigment gives some people brown skin, and some people lighter skin, along a whole spectrum from very pale to very dark. 

  • Give age-appropriate tips that can help them be more inclusive. Simple things like encouraging children to notice if someone is being left out of a game, and helping them to ask, "do you want to play with me?" can go a long way when it comes to including others. Teaching empathy helps, too!

  • Model the behavior you want to see. As always, the best way to teach your kids to treat others equally is to do it yourself. Sometimes that may require some deep introspection, including identifying your own areas for improvement on fighting racial biases. It's okay! We all have work to do, and your kids will learn a lot by watching you do the work!

Oh, and, of course - consult other sources! Here's a great blog post with more tips about discussing the civil rights movement.