Edmonds StrongStart

Expect Children to constantly surprise and amaze you!

Happy Summer Everyone

To all of you, a huge thank you for being a part of StrongStart this past school year. Thank you for your trust and partnership in teaching your children together. It has been a great pleasure connecting with all of you and building a community of support for each other. It brought me lots of encouragement to witness the resilience and patience many of you have shown throughout this time as we have all tried our best to navigate these extraordinary times. 

My best wishes for all of you that are starting Kindergarten in the fall. What an exciting milestone. If you are staying at Edmonds school I’m looking forward to seeing you in September and support the children’s transition to Kindergarten. Our wonderful Kindergarten teachers can’t wait to meet and get to know all of you.  

For updates on what StrongStart will look like in the fall please visit the Burnaby StrongStart website in late August. 

Remember, you can come back to this BLOG anytime to reconnect and sing together! 

Wishing you all a safe and wonderful summer.   Enjoy the outdoors and create new memories with your loved ones. 

 Hope to see you in the fall. Take good care! 

Ms. Maria

Community Resources For Summer

As we head into summer, I wanted to pass along a list of resources for you to explore and where you can reach out for support. 

 Please note that the StrongStart Blog will not be updated, but you can still check out posts and visit the other  Burnaby StrongStart Blogs as they will be up all summer for you and your child(ren) to explore. 

For free virtual programming click here: FREE Virtual Summer Programs in Burnaby


Looking for parenting support:  

  • Information Children will continue to have their helpline open and they can be reached at 778-782-3548 


  • Anita Olson with Greater Vancouver Family Services will also be available  

Anita Olson (she/her) ECE, BA, MEd 

Early Childhood Community Consultant 

T 604 525 9144 

M 604 723 9548 

e-mail: aolson@fsgv.ca>

Blog: Parenting place










Snail friends

1. Maximize love,

Manage stress

Research has shown that spending time in nature—even just 5 minutes—can yield amazing benefits, such as: stress reduction, mood improvement, increased concentration, and a boost in overall well-being. Spending time with family outside can strengthen that family bond significantly.

So, let us get outside and look for snails together. Remember to be gentle with them just like, when we played with them, in our Strongstart room.

2. Talk, sing and point

Where to look?

During the day, slugs and snails hide in cool, dark places: under dead leaves, lumps of earth, rocks, mulch, and wooden boards. When dusk falls, they come out from their shelters in search of food. They are also more active under cloudy conditions or after a light rain. Their active period is from about April to October, and then they hibernate until the next spring.

Where have you looked?

Who found the first snail?

What colour is its shell?


Listen to “The snail song”

3.  Read and discuss stories

You can learn interesting fact about snails by listening to “Are You a Snail?” by Judy Allen

Do you want to know how Snail and Fish works out their conflict and save their friendship? Listen to “The Story of Fish and Snail ” by Deborah Freedman

The snail’s cousin is the slug. You can see lots of slugs after a good rain. What colour slugs have you seen? Look at the baby slugs, they are a couple days old.

Here is a story about a slug who wants to be a snail “Norman the Slug with the Silly Shell” by Sue Hendra

4.  Explore through movement and play

Do you remember the snails in our Strongstart room? How many where there? They got very lonely in the classroom, so I brought them home. See the pictures and a video about them exploring their new home.


Click Here to see the video.


Craft idea: Playdough/clay snail you can put an empty snail shell on its back, or you can roll up some clay to make its house.

You can also try making Norman and his friends from the story above.


Here is a link for physical movement: The Garden Snail stretching exercise

5. Count, group and compare

How many snails do you see?

What colour shells do they have? Which one is your favorite?


“One is a Snail, Ten is a Crab” by April Sayre and Jeff Sayre

Zoom Circle Time

I hope that you are all doing well. I miss you so much…

I’m glad I get to see some of you on Wednesday mornings.

For those of you, who are unable to join us for the live Circle Time, I wanted to share some of the fun we had the past few times we met.

I recorded the “Little Cloud” story by Eric Carl which we read yesterday and some of the songs we sang together. Nolan look out for the songs you requested last week, they are included. To listen to the recorded circle time click Here.

If your child has some  favorite songs that you would like me to record or us to sing it together on Wednesday during Circle time, just click on comments at the top of the post and send them my way.

These pictures  have been co-created by children and parents participating in Edmonds Zoom Circle Times:

Which picture is your favorite? Why?

  Can you find the hidden words and messages in the pictures?


What shapes can you see?

I saw a blue horsey in this one. Click Here to listen to” Yankee Doodle went to town ” rhyme.



Which nursery rhyme comes to your mind when you look at this picture? Click Here to sing it with teacher Maria.




Have a great weekend and hope to see you on Wednesday at 10 am.

Playdough Exploration

Oh, we all know how much fun playdough can be! See below pictures of some of your past creations.

It reminds me of the great times we spent together at Strongstart.


But what are the benefits of playing with playdough?

•          Played with someone provides for quality time together, that builds strong secure bond/attachment. When an activity is creative and fun, your child will naturally mirror your enthusiasm and follow along.

•          can make a fantastic learning aid for children

•          helps in sensory development

•          can be a therapeutic tool for stress and anxiety relief

1. Maximize love,
Manage stress
Kneading, rolling, flattening and punching the playdough provide the chance to relieve stress and reduce feelings of anxiety and worry, which can lead to children feeling frustrated and acting out because of these feelings. You can try adding scented aromatherapy oils to the play dough, such as vanilla, lavender or rose oil, it can have a relaxing and calming effect when inhaled.

Creating with playdough lets children feel competent (“I’m good at rolling the dough”) and proud of their accomplishments (“Hey, I made a spiky dinosaur!”). It builds self-esteem.

How can playdough help us process our feelings? Listen to the song Here.

2. Talk, sing and point
Communication Skills & General Knowledge

Playdough can be a fantastic tool for facilitating learning, from teaching shapes and numbers to colour and smells. By talking as you use playdough, explaining what you are doing with the dough and why, you provide the opportunity to children to copy your actions. Often, seeing something in action and hearing the process explained helps to learn effectively.


A lot of children learn better by actually doing things with their hands, which is why playdough can be such a great learning tool. Whether you are teaching them about animals, food, or math, playdough can act as a fantastic resource and an amazing learning aid.

•          Talking with children about what they are doing while playing with playdough helps build communication skills.

•          Children practice listening to and talking with friends, siblings and adults.

•          Materials like playdough help children build their vocabulary as they explain what they are doing.

Children learn how to take turns, ask for tools that they need or certain play-dough colours, as well as how to share it.

Plan a Birthday Celebration:

make a birthday cake! You can plan a whole birthday party with them: Whose birthday is it? Who will be invited to the party? Where will the party take place, and what songs will be sung? Allow your child to choose the color and ‘flavor’ of the cake, and to decorate it accordingly with playdough stars, sparkles and other designs. When the cake is ready, you can have them cut straws into smaller candles and allow them to place the ‘candles’ on the cake.

Don’t forget to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ at the end of it and blow out the candles. Have your child pull the candles out and put the playdough away.


3.  Read and discuss       stories
Language & Cognitive Development

•          Children use language to invent stories about their playdough creations. You may notice your child using facts or ideas from books you’ve read together, like these one below representing “Dear Zoo” and “Old MacDonald had a farm”

Listen to Dear Zoo story Here

Listen to Teacher Maria singing “Old MacDonald had a farm” Here.

Also you can check the read-along “Old MacDonald”  story Here.

Playdough for Literacy:

For older kids, you can let them roll the playdough into thin strips and then have them create letters with their fingers; they can spell their name, or the names of their best friends or pets; or they can form any of their favorite words or letters. This exercise provides a double bonus in allowing your child to increase their finger dexterity and bilateral coordination, as well as giving them some fun spelling and reading practice.

4.  Explore through movement and play
Physical Health & Well-Being

•          Playing with playdough, molding and rolling builds fine motor skills.

•          Helps to gain control over hand and arm movements which improves coordination, like eye-hand coordination and use of both hands for specific tasks.

What are Fine Motor Skills?

•          Fine motor skills are the ability to use the smaller muscles of the body, like those in the hands, fingers, thumbs and wrists.

•          Fine motor skill development is a very important part of a child’s physical development.

•          Children need to learn to use their hands competently in order to manipulate toys and to acquire self-help skills such as feeding and dressing.

•          Children use their fine motor skills when writing, turning pages, holding small items, buttoning clothing, cutting with scissors, and eating.


Go on a Treasure Hunt:

Bury objects in the playdough and then ask your child to dig them out using their fingers. You can make an exciting treasure quest out this game; and your kids’ fingers will get an excellent work out! Afterward, if you’ve hidden shells, beads or other small decorative objects in the playdough, your child can string them together to make a necklace. This will provide additional  coordination benefits, enhancing your child’s ability to use both hands simultaneously.


5. Count, group and compare
Let’s make playdough now! It’s a great opportunity to talk about measurements. Be careful with the boiling water.

Homemade Playdough recipe

Materials Needed:

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup table salt

2 tablespoons cream of tartar

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1.1/4 cups boiling water

food colouring (optional)



1.                  Mix the flour, salt, cream of tartar and oil in a large mixing bowl

2.                  Add food colouring TO the boiling water then into the dry ingredients

3.                  Stir continuously until it becomes a sticky, combined dough

4.                  Take it out of the bowl and knead it vigorously for a couple of minutes until all of the stickiness is gone.

5.                  Place in an airtight container when not in use.

If you don’t remember seeing me make playdough at Strongstart take a look Here.

Come count with me Here.

Have fun playing with it with your child!


Happy Mothers Day!

1. Maximize love,

Manage stress

Mother’s Day is an occasion which is celebrated in various parts of the world to express respect, honor, and love towards mothers. The day is an event to honor the contribution of mothers, acknowledge the efforts of maternal bonds and the role of mothers in our society.

Around mothers’ day I like to think of the memories we built with my Mom and Grandma. My mom shared her passion of gardening with me, and my grandma shared her passion of baking. We were doing things side by side just like this Grandma shared her talent with her grandchild and daughter.

What are some things you learned from your Mother or Grandmother?

What are some talents or passions you like to share with your children?

2. Talk, sing and point Listen to some familier and some new Mothers’ Day songs:


Mommy is her name-o

I love you mommy

Mommy Takes Good Care of Me

We Love our Moms by BabyFirst

3.  Read and discuss       stories As promised here is the  “Owl Babies”  story that I wanted to share with you on Wednesday during Circle time.




Are you my Mother? by P. D. Eastman is another story that we like to read at Strongstart and created a playscape for it with a tree, bird, the animals and the transportation vehicles. Do you have some of these items at home to play out and retell the story?


4.  Explore through movement and play Here is a link for the children to create their own music as a mothers’ day gift. You can listen and dance to it together.

Song Maker is pretty easy to figure out, even for kids. The sequencer has two parts: one for melody, and a bar at the bottom for rhythm. For each one, you can select different musical options, and then draw your notes using your mouse or finger. Have fun!


The City of Burnaby website has great art lessons, physical activities and more for people of all ages – check out their site https://www.burnaby.ca/City-Services/Public-Safety/Novel-Coronavirus–COVID-19-/Online-Activities—Learning.html

I have also attached one of the artful ideas for you to try out with your kiddo! Family portrait



If you are looking for a short and easy

art project, check out this dandelion fingerprint.


5. Count, group and compare

How many fingers do you have on one hand?

How many on both hands?

How about Mommy?

How many fingers do you and Mommy has in total?


How many dots do you wan to put on the butterfly wings?

Here is the link for makeing this beautiful butterfly craft


Something special for you Moms:

Here is a funny Mothers’ day song, for you the adult, to remind us that children often mean well even when  the result of their action causes trouble.

For some self-care for Mommy, here is a calendar  from Action for happiness with ideas for each day of the month. Choose the ones that brings you serenity and joy.

Happy Mothers’ Day!

Building Community While Social Distancing

1. Maximize love,

Manage stress

Belonging is about having a secure relationship with or a connection with a particular group of people. When children feel a sense of belonging and sense of pride in their families, their peers, and their communities, they can be emotionally strong, self-assured, and able to deal with challenges and difficulties.

I have been wondering what are some ways in which we can foster our and our children’s sense of connection and belonging during covid-19 pandemic? How to self-isolate without cutting ourselves off from community?

2. Talk, sing and point

During self-isolation we get to spend a lot more time with our family. We can use this time to strengthen our bond and secure attachment with each other by playing and doing things together.

I remember how much fun we had at Strongstart while singing nursery rhymes and bouncy lap songs…. Come join me for our all favorite Acka-backa and more.


While not the same as connecting in person, digital connection is better than no connection. So please come and join us for our 2nd Live Circle Time on Wednesday at 10am.(see invite in your e-mail on Monday, if you have not received it please e-mail me and I’ll send it to you)

It was wonderful to see the children’s smiling faces and the enthusiasm to show themselves and their creations last week. Can’t wait to see you again this week.


My hope is that everyone feels that they belong and is part of the  Edmonds Strongstart Family. Let’s celebrate it with these songs:

Everyone belongs 

We are a family

3.  Read and discuss       stories

Here you can listen to “Somebody loves you , Mr. Hatch” by Eileen Spinellia story about the importance of  being loved and feeling a sense of belonging. Please overlook the valentine theme. It is such a good reminder about what a big difference a simple not can make in someone’s life.


Communities all around the world are using creativity to adapt community initiatives to a touch-free world. Belonging to communities for children.


Here are some projects, families shut indoors came up with to remind themselves that, just outside our doors, there is a whole community of people in the same situation.

I’ll invite you to join in one or all the projects below:


Painted Rocks: The Kindness-Spreading Treasure Hunt for Kids and Families



Listen to teacher Maria reading the story of the Rock monsteres by Marshall Amanda


4.  Explore through movement and play

Window Projects to spread kindness during the shut down through art

To participate in the High-Five project, all you have to do is trace your hand, decorate it however you like, then place it in your window. It will then become like a high-five or a wave and bring a smile to the faces of those who pass by your home.


Sidewalk Chalk project: Goal is to spread kindness with sidewalk art. It’s as simple and powerful as that.

Have you seen any of these projects in your community?

If you haven’t  seen any, be the one starting one in your hood. As community members/children go down the road will go beyond just them being on a walk, to them being part of a community.

To show support, solidarity and community during the on-going COVID-19 pandemic to the Edmonds Strongstart Community I ask you to e-mail me photos of your artwork so I can share it on our blog with all our friends. See the first communal picture children created during the Live Zoom Circle time.

5. Count, group and compare

How many rocks have you seen when out on your walk in your neighbourhood?

What shapes were they?

What coloure?



How big or long is your sidewalk chalk art?

What shape is it?                                                         

How many parts does it have?

What patterns have you used?







Let’s count and dance with Community Count


Spread some Kindness by sharing your message or artwork with us.

Enjoy your time together and please let me know what brought joy to your hearts this week.

Also reach out if you need support, have any questions or suggestions or you’re not receiving my e-mail invitations for Live Circle Times at maria.kerekes@burnabyschool.ca

Wash, wash, wash your hands!

1. Maximize love, Manage stress

Children are trying to understand what is happening and why they are suddenly isolated from their friends, extended family and regular routines.

Children can be particularly vulnerable to feelings of anxiety, stress and sadness during such a crisis, which makes it important that the adults in their lives provide a safe, reliable space to discuss these feelings in.

The tools you can use to talk to children about coronavirus are very similar to how you would talk to them about any other development in their lives.

Listen to them

First understand how much your child knows about the pandemic. Acknowledge their concerns fully and honestly and tell them there are countless adults working hard to try to end this.

Maintain structure in their lives

Keep regular routines and schedules as much as possible, especially before they go to sleep, or help create new ones in a new environment.

2. Talk, sing and point

Make hygiene precautions fun

Most children are not fans of standing for 20 seconds while they wash their hands, but we know it has to be done, especially after going to the toilet, before and after eating, after coughing, sneezing, or blowing their nose and after coming home from a walk.

Try to make it fun, sing a few verses of a nursery rhyme or do a little dance with them to help them count down.

See Circle time with Teacher Maria about flue and washing hands.

3.  Read and discuss stories

Be honest with them

It is important to provide children with information, but as their caregiver, you need to balance truthfulness with what is appropriate for their age and developmental level.

Please see a story written for children to understand what’s happening in all of our lives, theirs too.

Click on the link to see and listen to the story.


I found it a good conversation starter. It’s reassuring for children to know that parents care about what they think or wonder about.


4.  Explore through movement and play

Avoid stigma, share kindness

Explain to children that the illness has nothing to do with what someone looks like or where they come from. Viruses can make anyone sick, regardless of race or ethnicity.

  • You can also encourage them to reach out to grandparents and far-away aunts and uncles or Strongstart friends more often, using video chat applications.

( See Zoom circle time invite in your e-mail. If you haven’t receid it please e-mail me and I’ll be happy to send it to you.)




  • If your child is a fan of arts and crafts projects, you can encourage them to make cards for people in the extended family or friends, that way they too can take part in spreading some kindness and love.  








  • Science experiment for kids. Why do we need soap to wash our hands by Odin’s Play time


  • Another little science lesson how to make bubble solution at home from Mad Science.


  • You can also spread some joy by organizing a Bubble Party with your neighbours. Everyone can join in the fun from their own balcony.

5. Count, group and compare

Count bubbles with Teacher Maria, then create your own bubbles and designs. Please send me a picture of your creations and I’ll share them with the group. (for privacy reasons pictures about children will not be posted only their work)

  • What sizes are your bubbles?


  • What colour are the bubbles?




  • How many bubbles?






  • What can you create with circles and semicircles?





Enjoy your time together and please let me know what brought joy to your hearts this week.

Also reach out if you need support, have any questions or suggestions or you’re not receiving my e-mail invitations for Live Circle Times at maria.kerekes@burnabyschool.ca

Community Resources for Families


Wanted to let you know that our Community Partners who used to visit us at Strongstart are still available to support you and you family. Please check the new Page at the top of  our blog called Community Resources for Families. You can find many community resources there that are available for you during these virtual times. More resources will be added as they become available. Please check often.


Please see below a message from Anita Olson, who wanted to reach out to you to let you know that she is available to keep answering your small or big questions.

Anita Olson works for Family Services of Greater Vancouver as Burnaby’s Early Childhood Community Consultant (ECCC). She has been working with families and young children for well over a decade and as a parent herself recognizes the challenges, complexity and delight parenting brings. Understanding the foundational importance of infant and early childhood development, Anita shares information, strategies and practical tools with parents as they begin and continue their parental journey. Focusing on the parent/caregiver and child relationship, Anita’s work with families aims to create and preserve loving connection and curiosity.

If you are looking for parenting support: email your questions or join the daily Resource Newsletter  aolson@fsgv.ca

set up a virtual meeting   phone/text Anita at 604-723-9548

We Are Thankful for the Earth


How do you celebrate Earth Day in your family?


1. Maximize love,

Manage stress

  • Gratitude:  Gratitude is one of many positive emotions. It’s about focusing on what’s good in our lives and being thankful for the things we have. Gratitude is pausing to notice and appreciate the things that we often take for granted, like having a place to live, food, clean water, friends, family. For Earth Day we did a gratitude project. I am hopeful that this project will inspire ongoing gratitude in my kids for our Earth and its resources. Hope will inspire you and your kids too.


  • Take action: Three great ways YOU can eliminate waste and protect your environment is: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

2. Talk, sing and point


  • Teacher Maria sings about being thankful and proactive by Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. Listen to the songs here.

3.  Read and discuss stories

  • The Earth book by Todd Parr is a great one for preschoolers. It also gives the opportunity to discuss the ideas and help children understand the connection of paper bags and trees. Paper is made of trees, but if we reuse or recycle paper, less trees need to be cut down.  Energy usage worms the climate that result in melting the ice lands. Todd Par has a sense of humor. Look for what his idea of cooling himself of in hot summer is.


  • Here is another child friendly information on Reduce Reuse Recycle.


4.  Explore through movement and play

  •         One of the activities we did with our family is: Took a walk and noticed the things each of us are truly thankful for: trees, flowers, water, animals, sunshine. When we returned home, made a poster about what inspired our gratitude. Perfect for Earth Day or any day. For the poster we decided to write down Earth Day and come up with a word, from what we noticed and appreciated, for each of the letters. Our poster is digital to use less paper.

  •     Craft activity with recycled materials.


5. Count, group and compare

  •       Count your blessings flower. Make a circle and attach as many petals as many things you can think of being thankful for. Parents can write the words on the petals. Or if child is old enough you can write the words on a piece of paper and let children copy it on the petals. Glue the pieces together.


  • How many different nature elements have you collected for a nature art? Get the biggest rock you can find, wet it with water. You are ready to arrange the nature element on it for a unique  piece of art. What colour are they? What pattern do you want to use? Leaf, flower, leaf, flower…



Enjoy your time together and please let me know what brought joy to your heart this week.

Also reach out if you need support or have any suggestions at maria.kerekes@burnabyschool.ca

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