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7 Household Items That Are Early Learning Tools in Disguise
The Learning Partnership

We’re willing to bet you have things in your home that you can use to help your young child develop... more

7 Household Items That Are Early Learning Tools in Disguise
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We’re willing to bet you have things in your home that you can use to help your young child develop the foundations needed for school. These household items will help develop skills such as listening and speaking, sharing and taking turns, vocabulary development, print, alphabet and number awareness, hand and finger coordination and creative thinking.

Here are 7 common items that you can use to help build the foundation for early learning:


  1. Kitchen Utensils: Play ‘the name game’ with any type of kitchen utensil while cooking together. Show the child a mixing bowl and ask, ‘What do we call this? What shape is the bowl? What colour is the bowl?’ When setting the table, encourage your child to name familiar things, for example, ‘Let’s put a fork and knife at each place. Do you think we need a spoon?’
  2. Cookbooks: The next time you cook or bake, involve your child—read your recipe out loud, while pointing out numbers, pictures and colours. Ask your child to help you mix, pour, knead, measure, decorate, wash etc.
  3. Food: Food isn’t just for eating, of course! Use various fruit to help teach your child how to match shapes and colours, as well as practice counting and sorting. Pour uncooked rice or short-cut pasta into various size food storage containers for instant music shakers to discover different sounds.
  4. Newspapers, Flyers, Junk Mail and Packaging: Before throwing away newspapers, flyers—and even junk mail or packaging—keep some handy for you and your child to have reading material they can easily relate to. Seeing pictures of everyday items they recognize will help them learn to recognize letters and words too. You can even help your child cut out and paste pictures and words to create little picture books, for example, ‘My Favourite Snacks’.
  5. Storybooks: This is an obvious choice—but it’s important to go beyond just reading a storybook from start to finish. Let your child hold the book and turn the pages. Broaden their vocabulary by taking a word in the book and saying it in a second language. Deepen their understanding of the story by asking them to predict what happens next or relating it to your child’s own personal experiences (‘Remember when we…?’)
  6. Old Cell Phone: Still have that old cell phone lying around? Use it to encourage make-believe conversations with your child. Play and pretend to have conversations with characters from your favourite stories—talk to Goldilocks to find out how she felt when she met the three bears.
  7. Touch-Screen Mobile Devices: Smartphones and tablets can be effective education tools as long as you make them an extension of learning rather than a replacement. Using an e-book version of a favourite hard-copy story offers animations that add playful actions that support a story line, spark additional discussion and provide visual support for action words. When choosing apps, opt for ones that offer open-ended possibilities, guided instructions and encourage parent engagement.

Image of boy playing with pots and utensils from Shutterstock.

The Learning Partnership is a national, charitable organization dedicated to advancing publicly funded education, in part, through through innovative curriculum-based student programs.
Comments | Tagged under school, educational, toddler
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how to get ready  in 20 minutes in the morning
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There’s a look that women get this time of year, when summer ends and the kids go back to school. It’s a look that’s all too familiar to me, so I can spot it in a nano-second.

It’s darting eyes of frazzled multi-tasking, just being able to keep it together, too much to do, craziness!

Personally, I’m trying desperately to eliminate this wild-eyed frenzy from my life (I’m not there yet!), but one thing that’s helped me is to create a morning getting-ready routine for myself that takes 20 minutes or less (even with a little one—and a husband!—distracting me).

Here are a few things I’ve done (and you can do too) to make my morning routine quicker, giving more time to focus on the other morning tasks.


  1. Shower at night. I often get my shower done with my kid, but if not, then I take the some peaceful quiet time while she’s asleep to have an enjoyable shower. Not only is this ‘task’ off the list for my busy morning routine, but I sleep better. It’s great!
  2. Skip the morning face wash. You’ve showered at night, your skin doesn’t get that dirty sleeping in your cozy bed. If you want to feel refreshed, splash some water on your face and slather some moisturizer on. Done.
  3. Keep your daily makeup routine simple. Three to four must-have beauty items is plenty for a daily routine, so choose your faves and stick with them. My personal picks: mascara, bronzer, blush, and lipgloss.
  4. Have three go-to hairstyles on hand. Practice these three styles until they are second nature. Go with what your hair feels like doing that day and don’t fight it. If one style doesn’t work right away, move on to the next until one does work. You can search YouTube for easy or quick hairstyles for your hair length and choose a few to make part of your arsenal.
  5. Have two weeks of outfit choices on the ready.This is key! Fiddling around with what you’re going to wear each morning is such a time suck! Take thirty minutes on the weekend and sort out at least two weeks worth of outfits. Take note of what each outfit looks like. I have clients who do this by taking photos and keeping those in their closet, or sorting the photos into albums on their phone or using an app like Style Book or Walk in My Closet to keep note of these outfits. Whatever method you use, the key is that they’re at your finger tips so you can just throw an outfit on (that looks great!) without having to think about it.


Image of getting ready from Shutterstock.

Wendy Woods is a Personal Style Coach at THE REFINERY. She is fiercely committed to time-starved women who want an effortless sense of style. Her down-to-earth method allows women to feel accepted and understood while creating a personal style that makes them look and feel beautiful.
Comments | Tagged under beauty, fashion, morning, routine
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