Learning in the spirit of wonder and joy

Month: May 2020

Play Dough Recipe

Hello Everyone;

Since we are on the topic of baking, one of our favourite activity to do in StrongStart is play dough.  Squish, smash, twist, pound, play dough has a wide array of learning benefits for children’s development.  Play dough is an open ended activity that enhances fine motor skills, promotes creativity and imagination, and social skills.  Manipulation of play dough also enhances eye-hand coordination.  Furthermore, it also has a calming effect.  I wonder what you and your child will discover while exploring with play dough.

Here is the recipe.  Hope you will have fun playing with it.

Marnie’ Play dough Recipe

1 cup of salt
2 cups of flour
2 heaping teaspoons of cream of tar tar or alum
2 generous tablespoons of oil
2 to 2 1/4 cups of boiling water
Food colouring

  • Put dry ingredients into bowl
  • add oil and boiling water and food colouring in another bowl
  • add water mixture to dry ingredients and mix with sturdy spoon until mixture forms into a ball.
  • knead while warm until smooth
  • Store in an airtight container at room temperature

Hint: The trick to this homemade play dough is the amount of water and the kneading of the warm dough.  Turn out the dough onto a flat surface and knead as you would when making bread.  If the dough continues to be sticky after kneading for a few minutes add a bit of flour and keep kneading until soft.

Yummy, Yummy – Let’s Bake Together

Whether it is cooking or baking, preparing food together is a fun and interactive activity for the whole family.  I remember the excitement in the children’s eyes every time we made whether it were muffins, pancakes or stone soup in StrongStart.  They were eagerly waiting to eat the foods that they made.  And they always seem to taste better.


Some of the benefits of cooking or baking with children are building connections and learning social responsibilities such as learning where foods come from, and promoting healthy eating habits.  Children are more willing to try new food if they are involved in the preparation process.  Lots of learning are happening for children during cooking and baking.  For example, language development –  talk about what you are doing, reading recipes out loud, science – use all the senses to observe the textures and what happens to the ingredients when they are mixed together, math – measurements and counting, fine and gross motor skills and more.  You can also make substitutions or add more healthy ingredients to your cooking and baking.

Here are some tips for having fun and staying safe while your’re cooking with kids.

  • Before you start, talk about safety rules such as food safety, hand hygiene, what is hot, what is sharp, what to touch and not to touch and TALK (running commentary) about what you are doing.
  • Make sure the working surface area is clean and accessible
  • Make sure all the ingredients are readily available
  • Choose the right time – choose a time when everyone is well rested and not easily frustrated.
  • If you are using a recipe, prop it up so that you can read it without touching it.
  • Choose the right task – the type of cooking and baking will depend on the age and development of your child.  For younger children, you might consider making a salad together, or baking with simple recipes.  For older children, they can cut up vegetables (celery, mushrooms) with a butter knife or stir tomato sauce over low heat.
  • Relax – it is ok the measurements are not exact, or the cut pieces are not the same size, or there are eggshells in the bowl.  Turn the experience into a game, ask if they want to eat the small piece or the big piece, do they taste differently,  does the small one taste better or the big one, or who can find the eggshell in the muffins.
  • Remember to give compliments that they have done a good job.


Here are some of recipes that are suggested by some StrongStart families:

Carrot muffins (Recipe provided by Ayumi Sugita)

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup grated carrots
1/4 cup oil (coconut oil or butter) 
1/2 cup milk (soy milk for vegan)
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon powder
1/4 brown sugar
1/4 raisins

All mix in one bowl

Spray or grease a mini muffin pan

Fill the pan and bake for 20-25 minutes at 350 degrees F.

Basic Batter (Recipe Provided by Jen Wu)

Once you have made the basic batter, you can add anything to it and make different variations (ie: Strawberries, bananas, chocolate chips, raisins, blueberries, bananas, raspberries, apples) 


2 cups flour (250 g)
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 ½ cups milk (355 mL) (can use dairy or non-diary milks) 
2 tablespoons maple syrup or honey
2 tablespoons butter, melted (can also sub with oil) 
Some fruit, chocolate chips, raisins, etc… 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. 
Mix all ingredients together. 
If using fruits like apples, bananas, Strawberries, cut fruit into small pieces. 
Spray / grease a mini-muffin pan. 
Fill muffin tins 3/4 full with batter, put 2-3 pieces of fruit in each tin. 
Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until golden brown on top. Let sit in the pan for 1 to 2 minutes, then turn them out of the pan to cool.
Pan Cakes (Provided by Marilyn)

1 cup self-raising flour
1/4 cup caster sugar
1/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 egg
3/4 cup milk, approximately
1 teaspoon white vinegar
15 g butter (melted)

Mix dry ingredients in one bowl and wet ingredients in another.  Combine all ingredients and mix until smooth.  Then cook it it a frying pan or griddle.

Have fun baking and cooking together 


Happy Mother’Day

Dear Mommies;

I want to wish all the mommies a Happy Mother’s Day and honour all the things you do day in and day out.  A mother wears many hats and plays many roles such as nurturer, teacher, playmate, provider…to many to count.  Your love is unconditional and endless, and you do it for free.  So, let’s celebrate all your hard work.  Happy Mother’s Day.

click here to sing along



Community Partners

Hello StrongStart Families;

I hope you are all doing well.  It’s hard to believe that is’s been almost two months since we all came together in the fight against COVID-19.  It has been challenging to say the lest trying to adapt to all these changes.  We have became excellent in multitasking.  You might have picked up a new hobby, or learned new skills.  If you are like me, some days I feel great and amazed at the things that I can do and some days I feel stressed and alone and thinking how do I get through the day.  It is ok to acknowledge your feelings.  You are not alone.  Take a deep breathe and let it go.  Remember to look for and appreciate the little things in life and be grateful for them.  While you are doing your part to take care of your community, family and loves ones, remember to take care of yourself too by eating healthy, exercise, stay connected with friends, work on your mental health…Give yourself a big hug for doing a great job during these challenging times, hug your children harder, send virtual hugs to love ones.

As many of you know about our community partners that come to StrongStart to talk to parents regarding child development, parenting issues, sleeping, eating, behaviour or whatever that is on your mind regarding your child, their services are still available and they would be happy to talk to you especially during these challenging times.  Please note that their services are FREE.  Remember you are not alone.  Here are their contact information.

Information Children

Information Children is open

Helpline number:  778 782 3548.

Email:  info@informationchildren.com

Parent series for families who may wish to participate

  1. Circle of Security,  April 20th – June 15th,  10 – 11:30AM (Parenting series)
  2.  Keeping Calm to Carry On, April 29 – June 2nd, 10- 11:00AM 
  3.  Parenting Toddlers and Preschoolers, May 1 – June 5, 10-11:30 (Parenting Series)



Family Services of Greater Vancouver

Image preview

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

Anita Olson (she/her) ECE, BA, MEd

Early Childhood Community Consultant

T 604 525 9144

M 604 723 9548

3rd Floor – 321 Sixth Street, New Westminster BC V3L 3A7


Not A Box

I posted a post about the use of boxes for different types of play and how playing with boxes promotes the children’s holistic development.  (BLOG post – Boxes, Boxes, Not a Box).

What kind of creations did your child make…What did you notice about their play…did they use the boxes for arts and crafts, did they use them for physical play…

I would love to see what they have done.  You can upload the pictures on the comment section or email them to me at Lan.Huang@burnabyschools.ca

Let’s listen to the story “Not a Box” written and illustrated by Antoinette Portis, and published by Harper Collins and see where the rabbit’s imagination will take him.

Not a Box Board Book: Amazon.ca: Portis, Antoinette, Portis ...

I wonder where your imagination will take you…

Where is BINGO

Hello StrongStart Families;

I hope you all had a chance to play the BINGO that was posted last week.  How many pictures were you able to find, did you find them all?  Which picture was the most difficult to find?  And how long did it take you to find them?

When I was making the BINGO card, I remembered one of our regular song that we sing during our circle time.  Do you remember that song?

Click here to sing along

Remember to use your singing voices and have fun.