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Holiday Gift Ideas for 2015

Need a Holiday Gift?  How About Some Things We Love at CHP!

With the winter holiday almost upon us and the gift giving about to begin, I thought it would be fun to share some of the things we love to play with in school.   Last year, I shared a list of books which I shared again this year with a few additions.  Happy Holidays to all!

Magna Tiles are one of the more popular building toys at CHP, a favorite of girls and boys.  They are very easy to build with so this allows building with little frustration.  Warning:  These builders are not cheap but they are educational, fun, and extremely durable.

Binoculars and magnifying glasses are often in use at the science center. What is nice about these science tools is that they are light and portable so you can take them with you when you explore.
Magnifying Glasses:
Classic Forest Animal Collection:
These little forest creatures are always SO popular!

These sequencing puzzles are well loved at CHP.  They are not the standard jig saw puzzle.  Each puzzle piece is the same size--long wooden strips.  What you use to complete them is your ability to complete a picture and/or your knowledge of numbers and letters.  These puzzles are completed both visually and with knowledge of numbers and ABC letter sequencing. 
Alpha and Number Sequencing Puzzles:
Measuring Tape:
Like binoculars and magnifying glasses, this can be another “take along” toy.  Measurement is such a great way to learn about numbers, estimation and comparison.

Alphabet Learning Locks:
What a fun way to recognize the alphabet and use your fine motor skills!


Faber-Castell Markers:

Faber-Castell GRIP Color Markers (Non-Toxic and Washable) are our most popular writing tools.  The colors are bright, they are easy to use and you can even revive them with a little bit of water if they dry out.


These little people are great for pretend play.  They are used in so many ways like in block builds and are well loved at the playdough table too.

Play People with Differing Abilities:
Community Block Play People:


Assorted Colored Masking Tape and Dispenser:
Children have LOVED working with this colored masking tape.  They use it to make letters, make pictures and to build things.  This set comes with a large wooden dispenser so it is a bit pricey but you can buy tape refills.  I predict your child will use their imagination with this item for years to come.

This is the book list I shared last year with a few additions. Originally, I thought I would share a little list of children’s books this year, but when it comes to children’s books, no list is a small one!


  1. Extra Yarn and Sam and Dave Dig a Hole, by Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen
  2. Froodle and Not a Box, by Amy Portis                                                                                           
  3. Interrupting Chicken by David Ezra Stein
  4. Knuffle Bunny and Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus, by Mo Willems
  5. Mr. Tiger Goes Wild, by Peter Brown
  6. Oh No George! and Shhh, We Have a Plan, by Chris Haughton
  7. Spoon and Chopsticks, by Amy Krouse RosenthalStuck
  8. The Day the Crayons Quit, by Oliver Jeffers


  1. Duck! Rabbit! by Amy Krouse RosenthalHow Do You Feed a Hungry Giant? by Caitlin Friedman
  2. Press Here and Mix It Up, by Herve Tullet
  3. Tap the Magic Tree, by Christie Matheson
  4. The Monster at the End of this Book, by Jon Stone and Michael Smollin
  5. Warning, Do Not Open This Book! by Adam Lehrhaupt and Matthew Forsythe
  6. Go Away Big Green Monster! by Ed Emberley

New York, NY:

  1. And Tango Makes Three, by Justin Richardson
  2. Blackout, by John Rocco
  3. I Live In Brooklyn, by Mari Takabayashi                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     
  4. Subway, by Christopher Neimann
  5. The Curious Garden, by Peter Brown
  6. Little Elliot, Big City and Little Elliot, Big Family by Mike Curato
  7. Nana in the City, by Lauren Castillo
  8. My New York, by Kathy Jacobson


  1. Do You Know Which One Will Grow, by Susan A. Shea
  2. Maps, by Aleksandra Mizielinska and Daniel Mizielinska (for grow-ups and kids too!)
  3. Me, Jane, by Patrick McDonnell
  4. One Night, Far from Here, by Julia Wauters

Owls and Birds:

  1. Beautiful Birds, by Jean Rousseu
  2. Birds, by Kevin Henkes
  3. Little Owl Lost, by Chris Haughton
  4. Little Owl's Night, by Divya Srinivasan
  5. Owl Babies, by Martin Waddell
  6. The Best Nest, by P.D. Eastman

So Sweet Stories:

  1. Cloudette, by Tom Lichtenheld
  2. Gaston, by Kelly DiPucchio
  3. Kittens First Full Moon and My Garden, by Kevin Henkes
  4. Little Pea, by Amy Krouse Rosenthal
  5. Maple, by Lori Nichols
  6. Sophie’s Squash, by Pat Zielow-Miller

Winter and Holiday:

  1. Snow, by Uri Shulevitz
  2. How the Grintch Stole Christmas, by Dr. Seuss
  3. Stick Man, by Judith Donaldson
  4. The Magic Dreidels: A Hanukkah Story, by Eric Kimmel
  5. The Snowy Day, by Ezra Jack Keats

Classics no Children’s Bookshelf Should be Without:

  1. A Fish Out of Water, by Helen Palmer
  2. A Chair for my Mother, by Vera B. Williams
  3. Are You My Mother, by P.D. Eastman
  4. Blueberries for Sal, by Robert McCloskey
  5. Caps for Sale, by Esphyr Slobodkina
  6. Chicken Soup with Rice, by Maurice Sendak
  7. Corduroy, by Don Freeman
  8. Harry the Dirty Dog, by Gene Zion
  9. Make Way for Ducklings, by Robert McCloskey
  10. Swimmy, by Lio Lionni
  11. The Story of Ferdinand, by Munro Leaf
We are all Alike. We are all Different. We are all Team CHP!

The school year begins and here is a sneak-peek of the curriculum unit:

We are all Alike. We are all Different. We are all Team CHP!

How did I arrive at this year’s unit? I spoke with our students. Our program is tailored to the interests of the children; inquiry drives the learning process. We focus on a child-generated theme which allows as much student-centered inquiry as possible. We follow our students’ lead and within the context of their interests, infuse developmentally appropriate literacy, math, science, music, art and drama concepts related to the unit concept.

This year’s unit selection began near the end of school year 2014-15 when I invited small groups of interested students into my office to chat. I asked them if there was anything more they could learn about at school. I listened carefully, keeping in mind that the suggestions not only needed to interest preschoolers but be broad enough to encompass a spectrum of learning in all the disciplines.

During my student meetings, there were many ideas. To my delight, teamwork was one of the suggestions. The actual suggestions were, “TEAMWORK!” and  “Yes, and superheroes…and the Caribbean!”

I was so delighted with these suggestions because during my first years at CHP, I became acquainted with “The Feel Better Team.” My first experience with the team was on the playground.  A classmate had tripped and was crying. It was then I heard another cry… “Feel Better Team, to the rescue!”  A group of five students made up the self-appointed team.  They ran to the classmate and asked if he was alright. The team of girls and boys gave him a big hug.  After experiencing this, the staff jumped right onto the “Feel Better Team” wagon and it generated many wonderful classroom activities. The “Feel Better Team” gained members daily who were always there to help a friend in need. When the team offered their support it was magic! 

Everyone is part of our team at CHP and the beautiful thing about a team is that it is made up of individuals.

This year, we will talk about how we are alike and how we are different and we will celebrate it all. We will discover many things about our friends and families. What do you like to do? How do you spend time with your family? Who is on your team--friends, parents and grandparents, neighbors, teachers and pets?  Who are your heroes and superheroes?  So many questions, so many possibilities!

Just thinking about this unit, makes me break into a song I was taught by a child at CHP. It’s from the LEGO movie!

Everything is awesome, Everything is cool when you are part of a team.  Everything is awesome!

It is going to be a great year!

Around the Table


If you have visited my wall you may have read an old post about my attending a TED conference and my singing the praises of TED Talks. I am a huge fan! 

This post is based on the writings of 2015 TED Prize winner and StoryCorps founder Dave Isay.  It was posted last Thanksgiving as an exercise to deepen the ties between family and friends around the dinner table. When I recently came across this, I decided to ask these questions to my husband and what a surprise. I learned so many things I never knew about my partner of thirty-one years!

So, why am I posting this on Carol’s Wall?  Please know that I am not recommending asking these questions to your child!  I am sharing this with you because what struck me about this post is that I do not think I ever thought about questions like these when I was raising my children.     I can remember trying to instill lessons about life, good character development, the value of hard work and trying my best to make them happy. I never thought about how my parenting would impact their lives in the long run.

In retrospect, I think if I thought more about these questions, I may have been a bit more in the moment. What I remember about my child rearing was that I was often so busy playing catch-up.  There are little do-overs in life.  It would have been helpful during these years to be more aware of the things I was grateful for, proud of, what I learned from my mistakes (sharing that grown-ups make mistakes is so important!) and spoke with my children about them.

I share these questions with you now as an opportunity. Although our lives are so hectic and filled with work and chores and activities, keeping these in mind might help you to stay in the moment.  How do YOU want to be remembered?


What are you grateful for?
What are you proudest of?
What’s been the happiest moment of your life so far?
What’s been the hardest moment of your life, and how did you get through it?
What are the most important lessons you’ve learned in life?
How would you describe yourself as a child? Were you happy?
Who has been kindest to you?
How do you want to be remembered?
If your great great-grandchildren could listen to this years from now: Is there any wisdom you’d want to pass on to them? What would you want them to know?
If you could honor one person in your life — living or dead — by listening to their story, who would that be; what would you ask them and why?

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