Twelfth Ave Strong Start

Learning in the Spirit of Wonder and Joy

It’s Pumpkin Time!

Join me in reading “It’s Pumpkin Time!” and find out how pumpkins grow from seeds. CLICK HERE to read this book  written by Zoe Hall, illustrated by Shari Halpern and published by Scholastic.

Here is a picture from that book that shows how pumpkins start to grow in the ground before we can see the shoots. What a natural miracle!

How pumpkin seeds grow underground (from: It’s Pumpkin Time book)


In our StrongStart we usually carve pumpkins before Halloween to turn into Jack-o-Lanterns. If you carve a pumpkin at home this year, feel free to share a picture with me.

Don’t waste the seeds from inside the pumpkin. They make a tasty and healthy snack for adults and older children (for younger children you will need to open the seeds for them). Perhaps you can save some seeds to plant them to grow your own pumpkin. I wonder how big it will grow?

How to roast pumpkin seeds:

  • Remove the seeds by using a large spoon to remove the pulp, stringy fibers and raw seeds.

  • Wash seeds in a colander and remove as much of the fiber as you can.

  • Dry seeds with a paper towel. It will help them be crispy when you roast them.

  • Season the seeds with olive oil (regular cooking oil is good too) and salt. To your taste, you can add: garlic powder, paprika and black pepper. Roast at 350 F until crispy and change colour to your liking.

  • Enjoy!

What Else Can I Do with Nature’s Bounty

Dear StrongStart friends,

I would like to invite you to expand your collection of natural objects. You can’t go wrong with collecting shells(these were store bought), rocks – big or small, dried leaves of Magnolia trees (they do not crumble for a long time) etc.  Anything will do, flex your imagination “muscle”. You can always supplement by providing some Dollar Store items like popsicle sticks, wooden blocks, coffee stirring sticks.

What else can children do with natural materials? It depends on their interest and of course their age and the stage they are at. The youngest children will enjoy the sound and feeling of the leaves as you walk through the woods or on the street, they will love scrunching and crumpling them. You can throw the leaves high up in the air for them to watch them float. Show them the pointy leaves, let them feel the leaf lines, watch the wind moving the leaves on the branch.

They would love exploring and touching all the natural objects you provide (in a safe manner).

Some children will love taking their natural treasures in and out containers. For young children this provides endless fun as they master the competence of a “schema” of IN and OUT.

Some children like the toddler in this picture will choose one type of treasure (chestnuts) and line it up while experiencing the smoothness or roughness of the surfaces, weighing them.

Some children will pile them up to enjoy novelty of natural objects. Some will be happily engaged until they used up everything that was provided. This girl was appreciating her land art and was thinking hard what else she could add.

For older children you can introduce the concept of “patterns” by letting them choose one type of object and you choose another one. You can take turns lining  them up, “first me, then you”. After a couple of turns you can playfully ask “What would come next, what do you think? Of course, there are more complex patterns all around us and you can draw your child attention to patterns in nature and real world.  On this picture, for extra fun, I provided interesting lines to follow making the patterns. This adds the opportunity to talk about lines; curvy, loopy, zig-zaggy, spiral…

Some children will arrange the natural objects into land art following their own pattern, simple or complicated.


Some will have an idea of an experience or object close to their heart and will  re-create the image in their head with the objects provided. This boy was re-creating his experiences of airports and airplanes.


Many children created their homes.

It is so important to provide opportunities for children to play in nature but also bring “nature inside” . Being in nature, or touching and feeling natural objects calms children, they learn to marvel in what nature has to offer and they learn about world around them.

Enjoy! If you would like, feel free to e-mail me the photos of of your children’s creations.

Ms. Lillian

The Busy Little Squirrel

Dear StrongStart friends,

Please CLICK HERE to watch a video of me reading The Busy Little Squirrel by Nancy Tafuri published by Simon and Schuster books for Young Readers.

You will also meet two of my friends: squirrels Peter and Paul.


Here are the words and variations for this rhyme:

Don’t forget to join us for our Monday Zoom Storytimes starting at 11:15 am and Music Wednesdays with Kindergarten at 9:15 am. If you haven’t received a link yet and would like to join us, please e-mail me at and I will send you both links.

For those of you who really enjoyed the song I’m a Nut during our first Zoom Storytime: here are the words as well.

Have fun!

Ms. Lillian

Fall Bounty

Dear StrongStart friends,

Please CLICK HERE to hear me reading a book called “Leaf Man” written by Lois Ehlert, published by Harcourt Inc. Hope it will inspire your and your child’s imagination to see (and make) Leaf Man around you.

Fall provides us with many treasures you and your child can collect. Here are some examples I collected: a variety of pinecones, chestnuts,  twigs, bark, leaves of many shape or colours, acorns , maple seeds, and dried flowers (the ones I have are Allium flowers from our StrongStart planter). Along with some rocks found or bought at a dollar store (just like the ones you see) you have a bounty of materials for sensory and creative play. Let children touch and feel the textures of natural objects, by giving them the words to describe these objects you will be expanding their vocabulary but also helping them be in touch with nature. There are so many ways you and your child can have a marvelous time together using these materials in many creative ways.

Before putting these items away, make sure anything you collected from outside is dry and it will last you a long time. Please always be careful as smaller items are a choking hazard so always be with your child when using these items. Be creative,  creativity is like a muscle that more you use it the stronger it gets!

I got inspired by Leaf Man to be creative with my fall materials. Here is my ” surprised” Leaf Man. The hair is made from maple tree seeds and the mouth out of a big rock I found in front of our centre.

Of course, everyone will make their own creations. Acorn caps made wonderful eyes and short stalks of Allium made his hair.

I used the paper bag to create another leaf man. I used some cedar branches and chestnut. If you and your child want to create a puppet, you can use other flat materials (other than the rocks and chestnuts I used this time).

Here are the twigs and bark again along with some leaves and acorns.

You can also collect leaves of all shapes, colours and sizes. What a wonderful opportunity to teach your child about how to appreciate different trees that have been around here for many, many years: maple, oak. birch, elm, poplar, and horse chestnut trees. In my childhood, we used to press the leaves of trees in our neighbourhoods between pages of a fat book. Once dried and flat, we would tape them in a notebook with names written for revisiting and enjoying later. Here is another way you can enjoy the variety of colours and shapes in your home. Use clear self-adhesive (sticky) MacTack. It is found in Dollar Store or some grocery or hardware stores where they sell the items for lining the shelves. Enjoy sticking the leaves to the surface, and when you are done put it somewhere where you can enjoy a leaf collage for a long time.

Happy collecting and creating!

Ms. Lillian

Burnaby Public Library

Dear StrongStart Friends,  

Welcome backI am so happy that Ms. Lillian has invited me so make a guest post on her blog to talk about the Burnaby Public Library and our services! My name is Jamie and I am the Children’s Librarian at the Tommy Douglas Branch of the Burnaby Public Library ( Tommy Douglas is located on the corner of Edmonds and Kingsway at 7311 Kingsway (learn more about our other three locations here: 

 Did you know that you can now come into the library and look for books and other materials? Our hours at all branches are: 

  • Monday: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. 
  • Tuesday: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.   
  • Wednesday: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. 
  • Thursday: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. 
  • Friday: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. 
  • Saturday: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. 
  • Sunday: 12 p.m. to 4 p.m.

 Here are some of the other exciting services we are currently offering: 

  • Need a library card? Give us a call at 604-436-5400 or come in. Having a Burnaby Public Library card will let you access all our cool online resources, place holds, and check out books. Everyone can get a card from babies to grandparents!  
  • Need something to read? We have many new print books in library and e-books to enjoy at home. Check out: and  
  • Got questions about the community, technology, books, or anything else? Drop by, call us at 604-436-5400 or email We love to answer your questions! 
  • Searching for more stories? Check out TumbleBookLibraryBookflixIndigenous Storybooks and other great options for online stories here: .  
  • Did you read this summer? Pick up a Summer Reading Club medals at the branch while supplies last.  

Keep visiting our website for news and announcements. For more information, visit: .  For library virtual tour click Virtual Tommy Douglas Tour – Oct 1

Remember, if you have any questions, please stop by, give us a call at 604-436-5400 or email us ( We look forward to seeing you again soon! 

Warm regards! 


 Children’s Librarian, Tommy Douglas Library 

Fall and Fallen Treasures

Fall is a wonderful time to enjoy nature and its fallen treasures. When you go on walks with your children look on the ground and on the grass. On my last walk I picked up some fallen branches and twigs and found some bark on the ground. It inspired me to use some everyday materials: pipe cleaners, yarn, gardening twists, some sheer fabric to decorate the branches. You can use almost anything, be creative!







Show your child how to twist pipe cleaners and wind yarn around the twigs, for younger children I used some hair elastics and colorful elastics on the bark.







Older children can even choose two colours and you can playfully show them how to make a pattern: red, blue red, blue…I wonder what comes next?

You will be happy to know that while having fun and talking with you, exploring different textures and learning the words for: rough, smooth, bumpy, strechy, prickly, wooly, twisty, poky etc., children will be using their fine motor skills, gaining the strength in their hands and wrists needed for more complex activities like writing.

What other ways you can use your sticks or twigs and branches? Children use their imagination in their play and a stick becomes a magic wand! You can trace a stick on the fence to make some wonderful sounds! Playing in dirt with sticks is something children do all over the world. Don’t forget to send me some pictures.

The boy in this picture discovered a hole in the ground. After digging a bit, he decided to use the stick to measure how deep it was. What a profound hands-on sensory and math experience!

I Love the Mountains Sing-a-Long


Hello StrongStart families,

I would like to share a song that always brings a smile to my face. It is an old camping song, with some adapted words. Our Kindergarten children in Ms. Thola’s and Mr. Thola’s class sing it often and with joy! Hope you will like it too.

Click HERE to sing-a-long with me.


Here are the words: I Love the Mountains

I love the mountains, I love the rolling hills.
I love the flowers, I love the daffodils.
I live to love, I love to live for all these beautiful things!
Boom fee dada, Boom fee dada, Boom fee dada Oh! Oh!
Boom fee dada, Boom fee dada, Boom fee dada Oh! Oh!
I love our StrongStart, I love our friends here (That’s you guys!)
I love the feelings, I love the atmosphere.
I live to love, I love to live for all these beautiful things.

Boom fee dada, Boom fee dada, Boom fee dada Oh! Oh!
Boom fee dada, Boom fee dada, Boom fee dada Oh! Oh!
Boom, Boom, Boom.
Boom, Boom, Boom…..Boom.

More Community Programs

Many Burnaby organizations are working very hard to support families and young children.

To check out the attached calendar filled with free family and children’s programing in Burnaby click here: FREE EDITED Programs fall-winter 2020 Master Burnaby (1) This program was compiled by Burnaby Early Childhood Development.

For more information on Burnaby Covid 19 activities, support and services for children 0 to 6 years old and families go to:

Support From Anita

Hello StrongStart families,

Here is a write-up from our wonderful, warm and experienced community partner Anita offering parenting support.

Anita Olson – Early Childhood Community Consultant (ECCC) – supporting parents/caregivers with children ages 0-5 years old. Questions/concerns about behaviour, development, needing strategies or other resources call/text/email for a free virtual or socially distanced consultation.

604-723-9548 or email

Join Monday’s Coffee and Chat parenting support group to get connected with other parents, learn some helpful tips about parenting and discuss your own parental celebrations and challenges. Meetings are via MS Teams – email, subject line JOIN COFFEE AND CHAT, and an invite will be emailed to you. For assistance in MS Teams installation click here.

If you are interested in joining the ECCC Resource Newsletter please email, subject line ADD TO RESOURCE NEWSLETTER and you will begin to receive children’s activity ideas, family resources offered in Burnaby and so much more.




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