Second St. StrongStart

Learning in the Spirit of Wonder and Joy

Happa Zome with the Kindergarten Class

This morning I was with one of our kindergarten classes and we did Happa Zome art. Please see my previous post to find out more about this Japanese art form.




Today I was surprised by the aroma when I hung them in the classroom!




Each time I do this I am so amazed at the colours and patterns that transfer onto the paper.

Today I folded the paper to see what would happen……


Exploring Colours in Nature

Last week and this week in our outdoor sessions we are reading the book “My Forest is Green” as our inspiration.  Then we go on a search to see what is in the forest that we can use for our pictures.    With all of our findings we are doing Happa Zome which is Japanese art using hammers/mallets and leaves, etc.

To find out a little more about Happa Zome click here.   It was amazing to see the pigments from our objects transfer to our paper after we hammered on them! What will you discover in your backyard or forest? What happens when you hammer on them?!


Fun with Bird Seed

Tired of sand or water play?
Need something to inspire outdoor play?
This week in our outdoor sessions we played with bird seed!
Children learn so much through sensory play.
(Please note that not all sensory materials are safe for animals.)
Bird seed is a great option as it is safe for all animals.

Sing-a-long With Me!!

Wow it’s March 1st today which means a new Sing-a-long video to help you sing and move with your child! Singing is an important part of child development.  If you sing they will sing! Click here to read an article on the benefits of singing with your child! This video includes some felts and Sleeping Bunnies!!

Are you having a hard time understanding your child’s behaviour?

Cameray Child and Family Services offers many programs to support families.

One of many things Cameray is offering is a free two-part workshop March 1st and 8th at 10-11:30 AM titled “Parenting in Canada”. In this workshop you will be discussing the challenging and positive aspects of raising children in Canada and cultural differences and similarities in child-rearing.  To register please email or call 604-436-9449.

Click the link below  to find their March calendar displaying what programs they offer and when they are being offered.


Early Years Parent Support Program

Shape Monster

Lan, the StrongStart Educator at Kitchener, introduced me to the Shape Monster.

During our outdoor session this week, the Shape Monster came and ate all the shapes for lunch!

Here is a short version of the poem we were using:

Shape monster, shape monster
Munch, munch, munch
How about a yellow circle for your lunch?
Shape monster, shape monster
Munch, munch, munch
How about a blue triangle for your lunch?
Shape monster, shape monster
Munch, munch, munch
How about a red square for your lunch?
Hope you enjoyed your yummy shape lunch!!

This poem has lots of potential as you can add as many shapes and colours as you would like!

Here is what you need:
  1. different coloured felts
  2. 1 sock
  3. buttons or googly eyes
  4. hot glue gun
  5. scissors

Only 3 Steps to make it:
  1.  Glue on buttons or googly eyes on the end of the sock.
  2. Cut out a variety of different coloured shapes.
  3. Copy the poem and fill in your felt shapes and colours.

Enjoy playing with the Shape Monster!!! Place the felt pieces on a tree or a table.

Have your child put on the puppet. Read the poem and watch the Shape Monster gooble up lunch!



February Sing-A-Long

I really miss singing in person with you.  But until we can be together, here is another sing-a-long video.  I encourage you to participate along with your child.  Children naturally mimic and learn from their parents.  If you sing, they will sing! If you dance, they will dance!

A Night-Time Game Your Family Will Love

Anita Oslon sends a newsletter out and she stumbled on a game I would love to share with you as well, called Night-time Safari! It is a simple game that you can play after dinner but before bed to burn off some steam.  All you need are stuffed toy animals and a flashlight. To play you hide the stuffies in the living room, turn out the lights and let your little one find them using the flashlight! For more information click here!

The Benefits of Nature Article By Anita Olson

Nature – the magic bullet?

Since the pandemic began many changes have ensued steering families to make decisions they never thought they would ever make. Working from home with little children banging on the door demanding fishy crackers may not exactly be what you thought going back to work would look like. The low level anxiety people are faced with everyday as the pandemic lingers on, just shouldn’t be – and yet, here we are.

Children feel stress too and are really good at letting parents/caregivers know through their behaviour. Play dates are postponed, grandma and grandpa need to stay safe and can’t help out like they use to. Parents are concerned about their children’s social and emotional development and screen time. The list goes on. Stress and anxiety are real and present for many families – all members included.

Now, I am not one for magic bullets, but that’s kind of what I’m going to share with you here. Being in nature and the benefits it creates may be as close to a magic bullet as we can get. There is an ever growing body of evidence based research pointing to the power of nature for adult’s and children’s well being.

Children 3-4 years old are recommended by the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology to engage in 3 hours of physical activity spread over the course of every day. Young children need to move and challenge their bodies. Parks, gardens, beaches, forests, even the back yard are perfect spaces for children to get their move on. Children who engage in nature tend to be physically healthier because;

  • Heart health is better – they move more and sit less
  • Have better eye health – children who spend more time outside reduce the risk of myopia (nearsightedness)
  • Sleep better as the sun helps regulate sleep patterns
  • Improves the immune system

If you are feeling low, being in nature may give that needed boost. There is a vast body of research on how spending time in nature actually reduces stress, anxiety and depression for children and adults. Being in nature calms the brain by reducing cortisol (the stress hormone) and boosts endorphins and dopamine (happy hormones) in the body. Walking though a forest is call, shinrin-yoku, in Japanese, which literally means, “forest bathing” because of this calming effect it embodies.

Playing in nature offers children unstructured play where the possibilities are seemingly limitless to choose and design what and how to play. By engaging with their world by their own accord, children have the opportunity to make meaningful discoveries about the world promoting creativity and imagination.

Discoveries on colours, patterns and shapes found in nature make the great outdoors the perfect place to begin learning about early math concepts and language development. Research on learning outcomes for school aged children with regular access to outdoor lessons show significantly stronger reading and writing skills than for children without these nature experiences. The sights, sounds and smells of nature help calm the nervous system cultivating better focus and concentration, both key factors to learning. There are also many studies linking time spent in nature reducing ADHD symptoms. Being outside matters!

Getting outside and into nature has benefits for the entire family. Family programs held outside, such as Strong Start, offer families a special gift. These outdoor programs allow for multi-generational shared learning and exploration in an environment rich with information that promotes physical and mental well-being. So, it may not be the magic bullet – but it’s close!


Anita Olson works on the traditional, ancestral, and unceeded territory of the Coast Salish peoples 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. Anita holds a current ECE licence, BA and MEd from Simon Fraser University. If you would like to speak with Anita, email her at or call 604-723-9548

Find more information on the outdoors:,(e.g.%2C%20increased%20happiness)


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