Language Development That’s Beyond Comparisson

Remember that Sesame Street song, “One of these things is not like the other, some of these things are kind of the same….”?  Why was it a staple part of the program?  Because….being able to identify & express similarities and differences has much bigger implications than may appear.  This skill helps to strengthen memory, develop higher-order thinking skills, increase comprehension and helps promote thinking & communicating with clarity and precision.  Also as children grow, being able to compare and contrast will enhance their writing skills.  Today’s post provides and example of how to begin developing this skill with your toddler.

Here’s one activity we did today from the Leaping Lilies curriculum

 This week’s Theme: Dinosaurs

Activity DescriptionLet’s Talk: Use dinosaur figurines to engage your tot in conversation.  Encourage your tot to articulate the similarities and differences between the dinosaurs.

This Activity’s Main Area of  Development: Language Development

Specific Skill: Compare and contrast

O&M’s Ages (at the time of posting this): 2 years + 5 months


  • Vocabulary (Review some vocabulary before-hand)

– Review vocabulary that is specific to dinosaurs.  We did spikes, horns, claws, scary, friendly.

– Review ‘same’ and ‘different’.




  • Provide an Example (Show your tot how to compare and contrast)

– Modelling (meaning you do it first) is a good way to give an example.

– Doing one together can provide a guided example (they have help vs. doing it independently).  This is what we did (see video below)



  • Try it Independently (Encourage your tot to discuss the similarities and differences on his/her own)

– Gently correct mistakes and remind them of vocabulary. For example, if your to says the wrong colour or says something is the same when it really is different, you would just quickly review what the words mean.

– If your tot needs assistance, you can give clues.  Ex. (“I see this one has big sharp teeth.  Does that one have the same teeth?”)

– Let your tot choose the dinosaurs he/she would like to talk about.


Here are the girls’ attempts at comparing and contrasting independently.  It was fairly challenging for them so I gave them assistance (usually in the form of a question).

In case you can’t understand M in the video below: To contrast she notes the colours.  To compare she says they are both dinosaurs, they are both scary (and one is not happy).


This video starts out with M asking O which one she likes.   In case you can’t understand O in the video below: To compare she says they have long teeth, long arms and long claws.  To contrast she notes the colours.


The girls already compare and contrast things often when it is in relation to their life such as, “that girl has the same colour coat as me”, etc.  This also occurs frequently when reading books – click here to see a post about making connections between storybooks and self.  This idea of comparing/contrasting two things to each other vs. comparing/contrasting themselves with something is new and will continue to improve with practice.

Click here to see language development posts for 15-18 months

Click here to see language development posts for 18-24 months

Our Going to Bed Book

Being able to read or listen to a story requires a lot more than saying or listening to words on a page.  Reading/listening to a story in a meaningful way, requires something much more…..comprehension.  In short, reading comprehension is being able to make meaning of text.  One very important strategy for helping to develop reading comprehension is by making connections between the text (story) & self (your tot) so when you read stories together make an effort to point out or ask questions based on similarities or differences between the story line and your tot’s life.  And…… when you get the opportunity, make your own story books starring your tot and your family!  Your child will love to read these stories independently (and will be able to read them, because the link between the text and self is so strong).


On alternating Fridays I blog about the final activity of our current theme 


This week’s Theme:Bedtime

Activity Description: Make a personalized going to bed book describing your bedtime routine

This Activity’s Main Area of  Development: Language, creative, cognitive, fine motor, gross motor, social, emotional

O&M’s Ages (at the time of posting this): 2 years + 5 months


Lets get started!

  • Plan out your going to bed book! (Brainstorm with your little one)

Here’s what we came up with:

  1. Have a bath
  2. Put on our PJ’s
  3. Brush our hair
  4. Brush our teeth
  5. Read a story
  6. Kiss good-night
  7. Get tucked in & sing a lullaby
  8. Have sweet dreams!
  • Take pictures for your going to bed book! 
We have a bath!

We have a bath!

We put on our pyjamas.

We put on our pyjamas.











We brush our hair.

We brush our hair.

We brush our teeth.

We brush our teeth.








We read a story with Mommy.

We read a story with Mommy.

We give a good-night kiss!

We give a good-night kiss!








We get tucked in.

We get tucked in under our covers.

We get cozy in our beds.

We get cozy in our beds.









M fast asleep!

M fast asleep!

O fast asleep!

O fast asleep!













  • Make/find a book template and insert your pictures!  (The template below is included in the Leaping Lilies curriculum) 

O&M Going to bed book_Page_5O&M Going to bed book_Page_1






O&M Going to bed book_Page_2


O&M Going to bed book_Page_3







O&M Going to bed book_Page_4








  • Enjoy reading your Going to Bed Book for months/years to come!  (We have made a few books together that we enjoy reading over and over)

Click here to see another post about making a personalized book

Click here to see a post about how to read stories to young children


P.S….this has recently become a part of our bedtime routine!!!  Anybody else have to do this??

Bedtime Band-aids on non-existent boo-boos!

Bedtime band-aids on non-existent boo-boos!

 Have a great weekend, we’ll see you on Monday with a new theme and lots more fun learning!




Exploring Measurement: A Reggio Provocation

Here it is! Another example of the amazing results of a Reggio Emilia provocation.  No matter how many times I do this, I am in awe of what transpires.  A Reggio provocation is characterised by its unbounded, limitless potential – a true reflection of a child. It is just so exciting to watch unfold!  If I haven’t expressed it enough, PLEASE, try a Reggio provocation with the children you love – they will astound you in more ways than you could imagine! – In more ways than they already do!  Children have so much to express, give them the opportunity!

On alternating Wednesdays I blog about a Reggio Emilia Provocation

This week’s Theme: Bed Time

Description of Provocation: Exploring Measurement: Provide measuring cups, rulers, soft (tailor’s) measuring tape, numbers (plastic, foam, magnets, etc.), feathers (variety of sizes and colours)

O&M’s Ages (at the time of posting this): 2 years+ 5 months


Initial Topic (Observe and question your tot about a topic of interest)

  • The girls have shown a significant amount of interest in bird nests over the last couple of weeks.  Also, we went shoe shopping for Mr. Y, and the girls LOVED measuring their feet at the store.  Last, they really enjoy putting measuring cups in order.

Materials (This can include anything)

  • For the measurement component, I chose measuring tools (measuring cups (plastic & ceramic), straight rulers & a tailor’s tape measure)
  • I chose a variety of bird feathers because I felt that would relate to both the bird nest interest and our bed time theme (because feathers are often used to make pillows, blankets and even beds!)

Set-Up (This should be visually appealing and intriguing)

  • Where?:  I chose a space with natural light in a fairly open area.
  • Workspace: I defined the workspace using place mats.  I laid a ruler on the mat horizontally and I also placed some magnetic numbers vertically along the side of the mat.
  • Display:  I displayed the measuring cups on the wall using hooks – to add a 3D element – (plus they like manipulating things on and off hooks).  I displayed the feathers in blocks of colour on a clear plastic tray (or in small buckets)










Observation (Observe your tot interacting with the provocation you have set up.  Remember not to interfere or ‘teach’.  If you stay out of the way, you will be pleasantly surprised!)

  • What was interesting?  Initially, M was interested in the feathers and O was interested in the measuring tools
initial contact

Initial contact

"measure," said O

“Measure,” said O

O inspects the ceramic measuring cups

O inspects the ceramic measuring cups








"What is this?" asks M

“What is this?” asks M

M manipulates the feathers

M manipulates the feathers










  • What was asked? The only question I recall from them was M asking, “What is this?” (in regards to the feathers.)  I answered her and asked her, “Do you know what a feather is?”  “No,” she said.  So I gave a brief description (including that we use them to make pillows/blankets etc.) – this did not incite any interest at all.
  • What was said? So much was said, it’s really difficult to relay.  I think it’s best to illustrate some of the main ideas of what was said, into the ‘What was done’ section below.  This is why it is really important to take notes!  You cannot remember it all!
  • What was done? A LOT!!!  None of which I anticipated.  (I haven’t written them in order of occurrence, I’ve written them from smallest amount of interest to largest.)

#1 – Butterflies!  O makes the connection that feathers are used to fly and butterflies fly so we can make butterflies out of these feathers:

"I make a butterfly!" says O

“I make a butterfly!” says O


#2 – Time for a pedicure!  M decided to use the feather as a nail polish and then decided that the other feathers should be my toe separators!  (I can’t believe I’m showing the world pictures of my unkempt toenails…but in the name of education, and M’s brilliant idea, I am!)

M carefully places the toe separators

M carefully places the toe separators

M paints my nails green

M paints my nails green (I paint their toes green!)









# 3 – O’s invention.  O strung the measuring tape through the cupboard handle, stood back and said, “Watch!”.  Then she pulled the door open proudly.

O pulls the measuring tape taut

O pulls the measuring tape taut

1-2-3 Pull!

1-2-3 Pull!









#4 – Measuring.  This was mostly driven by me.  I asked O, “You said measure before, what is measure?”  She said, “I can measure all my things!”  “Yes you can!  But what does measure mean?”  “I don’t know,” she said.  So I gave a brief description, “Measuring is how big or small something is.”

I said, "This feather goes to 7, and this one goes to 4.  Which one is longer?"

I say,”This feather goes to 7, this one goes to 4. Which is longer?”

"Which measuring cup holds more?"

“Which measuring cup holds more feathers?”

M wanted to wrap the measuring tape around her. (6 times)

M wanted to wrap the measuring tape around her. (6 times)


#5 -IMAGINARY PLAY (this was the big one!)  They decided they were going to make a castle.  The play then revolved around Santa coming to visit this castle.  It went on for ages!  I got to sit back and watch.

"We make a castle here." (The measuring tape is the main structure)

“We make a castle here.” (The measuring tape is the main structure)

"We decorate the castle."

“We decorate the castle.”










"I make a map so Santa can find us"

“I make a map so Santa can find us”

"This is where Santa can sit"

“This is where Santa can sit”








"Shh! Hide under here. Santa will come and we can see him."

“Shh! Hide under here. Santa will come and we can see him.”


Extension (Based on your observations, add new materials as needed)

  • New Materials: Because the bulk of the initial interaction revolved around a castle, we did a bit of picture research on castles (Google Images search).  They pointed out their favourites – coincidentally, one they chose was a castle I used to live near! (I didn’t even see it until they pointed it out).  I also added blocks.  Next, I lessened the amount of feathers and measuring equipment.










  • What Transpired?: Castle building……
"This one the best"

“This one the best”

"This one my favourite"

“This one my favourite”









Castle #1

M builds

M builds

M adds 'flowers' to the castle garden

M adds ‘flowers’ (feathers) to the castle garden








M uses a green feather as a hose to water the flowers (making a sound effects as she did it)

M uses a green feather as a hose to water the flowers (making sound effects as she did it)

M is jumps  'because the castle is so strong, so it won't break when I'm jumping'

M jumps “because the castle is so strong, so it won’t break when I’m jumping”














Castle #2

O & M made this catle together

O & M made this catle together

O says, "this is where you skate" (I think she was referencing Disney's Frozen)

O says, “this is where you skate” (I think she was referencing Disney’s Frozen)













Castle #3

O explains "this is trick door"

O explains “this is trick door”

"I open trick door, people is coming out"

“I open trick door, people is coming out”








M adds Princess Ariel "to live in the castle"

M adds Princess Ariel “to live in the castle”

I mention that where Ariel is sleeping, looks like this bridge

I mention that where Ariel is sleeping, looks like this bridge (the castle that O said is the best)










…..after I said that….. O decides to make it.

Castle #4

O carefully constructs

O carefully constructs

The castle's bridge

The castle’s bridge

O's bridge (same rectangular shape)

O’s bridge (same rectangular shape)








The castle's door

The castle’s door

O's door (it has the same arched shape)

O’s door (it has the same arched shape)








O's towers (same cylindrical shape)

O’s towers (same cylindrical shape)

M came over with a tiaras for us to live in the castle.  So that makes me the Queen Mum! LOL!

M came over with tiaras “for us to live in the castle.” So that makes me the Queen Mum! LOL!












This is what I found when I woke up this morning:

O does some sorting

O had done some sorting


Once again, their ability to independently blend their creativity and knowledge astounds me!


Click here for more Reggio Emilia!

Click here to see how Reggio fits into The Crystal Teaching Method’s overall philosophy!

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Keeping up the Good Work

Today’s post is about purposeful and meaningful work for children.  What qualifies as meaningful work for children?  How will your tot benefit by engaging in these types of activities? How can you incorporate meaningful work for your child into daily life?

Here’s one activity we did today from the Leaping Lilies curriculum

 This week’s Theme: Bed Time

Activity DescriptionChores: Teach your tot how to make his/her bed.  Make it his/her responsibility each day.

This Activity’s Main Area of  Development: Emotional Learning

Specific Skill: Doing ‘real’ work

O&M’s Ages (at the time of posting this): 2 years + 5 months


  • What is meant by real work?

– It’s Not Pretend: Real, meaningful work for children is not the kind where you are sweeping and your little one is sweeping beside you with a toy version of a broom.  It’s not when you give your tot a menial ‘task’ to keep him occupied while you actually do the ‘real’ work.  Real work is completing jobs that are useful and actually need to get done.

– It’s Done Independently: While it may be necessary to help and guide the first couple of times a job is attempted, eventually real work is something your tot can do independently.  However, even though your tot is doing things independently, this doesn’t mean that you can’t work together.  Take gardening as an example.  You can be gardening together, but you are not standing over your tot saying what needs to be done.  Your tot has a meaningful job in the garden (a job that needs doing) and she does it (while you are also in the garden doing your job).  It could even be the same job (like watering) but you are not holding the watering can together.  Your tot has a watering can and is responsible for a certain portion of the garden while you have your watering can, watering another portion of the garden.  Thus, you are working together, but also independently.

– It Benefits Others: Real and meaningful work for children is not simply done for reward or personal gain, it affects and/or helps others.  It’s not something like cleaning up toys to earn a sticker or a ‘plus’ on the reward chart.  We can use gardening again as an example where many people would benefit from their work.  (Children who consistently engage in this kind of work continue to be of benefit to their families and communities throughout their lives because they have experienced and realized the importance and joy of benefiting others, rather than only themselves.)


  • How can doing ‘real’ work benefit my child?

– A Sense of Purpose: Engaging in useful work provides a sense of purpose and pride (the same goes for adults!). Your children will  feel productive and see that they are a valuable and contributing member of your family.

– Overcoming Obstacles: Challenging  your children with meaningful work provides you with an opportunity to encourage them to persevere through difficulties, instilling in them a feeling of achievement.  By providing an opportunity to achieve something more difficult, you can raise their self-esteem in a very concrete way.  They will realize, through action, what they are capable of.


  • What kinds of work?

The types of meaningful work for children is varied and really depends on the age of your child and your family circumstances.  For very young children (like mine) it could be simple chores. For school aged children perhaps things like cooking and gardening.  For teens it could be house repairs/maintenance or even paid employment.  In all cases, the work should be safe (or in the case of older children, they should know what the safety concerns are, how to avoid accidents and what to do if an accident occurs).


  • M making her bed – The girls really enjoy doing this and I am often surprised by how much attention to detail there is. It was  a bit slow today but M got there in the end (with a bit of grunting to help her through the more difficult parts!)


Looking for emotional learning activities for 15-18 months?  Click here!

Looking for emotional learning activities for 18-24 months?  Click here!

Looking for more emotional learning activities for 24-30 months?  Click here! 


Gettin’ Artsy: Craft Supplies 101

A wonderfully meaningful way to spend time with your child is by doing creative arts!  Though most of us are aware of this, artistic activities often get put on the back-burner because we are so crazy-busy all the time – and..well, schlepping out the supplies, getting messy & cleaning can just seem so laborious (not to mention knowing which craft supplies to buy)!  Today’s post is focused on helping you realize that doing art at home is not as daunting as it can seem!


On alternating Fridays I blog about parent/teacher

hot topics & interesting info or Q&A

Today’s Question:

One of the things I struggle with because we are SO busy is keeping enough supplies on hand to attempt these activities even on a smaller scale. Do you have a list of standard crafty things that you always have on hand?

Alexis, Ontario


Thank you for  your question Alexis.  It’s a really great topic that will benefit many of our readers.  Truth be told, I’m actually not the most artistic person so my knowledge of crafty supplies is slightly limited but as a result of your question I did a bit of research.  So today’s post is an amalgamation of helpful information I found mixed with my own experience when it comes to craft supplies and doing art projects at home.


  • Standard Craft Supplies (This post is NOT sponsored – I’ve included pictures of some items we enjoy)

Writing Supplies: Crayons, washable markers,  chalk, oil pastels

Paper Supplies: Construction paper, roll of poster paper, printer paper, coloured tissue paper

Painting Supplies: Tempera paint, water paints, paint  brushes, sponges, smock, old sheet (or similar)

Stamping Supplies: Stamps, large multi-coloured stamp pad (I like having one stamp pad vs. 6.  Kids mix the colours but they do with individual stamp pads too!  I find one easier to manage.)

Embellishments: Pom poms, stickers, googly eyes, coloured tape, ribbon, feathers, foam sheets, gemstones, paper flowers, buttons, beads (anything goes!) –And sparkles – IF YOU DARE!  (They are pretty and popular with the kiddos but can often be found months later in random parts of your home/wardrobe/fridge/car – you get it!)

Cut & Paste: Child friendly learning scissors, coloured glue sticks, white glue, mini glue-gun (for adults)

Other: Popsicle sticks, food colouring, pipe cleaners, play dough, modelling clay, felt


  • Getting Started

Kits: There are a lot of craft  kits out there which can give you a good start.  They usually come with at least one element from most of the categories noted above.  Here is the one we have:

Crayola My First Super Stamping Kit

Crayola My First Super Stamping Kit

Bits and pieces:  If you don’t want to go the craft kit route, visit your local dollar store or craft supplies store and pick up just one or two items from each category noted above.  Also, as your children grow older, they begin to get this kind of stuff as gifts.

Build up over time:  Once you have a small foundation, you can buy specific things here and there as is needed for specific projects.  I also buy things sporadically when I see them on sale (even if I don’t need them right away).


  • Use Everyday Items

Nature: Bring a bag or bucket on your nature walks to collect sticks, rocks, acorns, leaves, flowers, etc. Keep them and incorporate them into your arts and crafts

Recycling: There is a plethora of craft supplies & craft projects waiting to happen in your recycling bin!  Such as, egg cartons, magazines, plastic containers, paper towel rolls, small boxes, etc.


  • Consider Your Space

– Get Organized:  Where are you going to put all of this stuff?  Once you begin building up your craft supplies, you will find it increasingly important to organize them.  Designate an area (a cupboard, a shelf, a storage bin, etc.) for your crafts and consider ways to organize and label the contents (using smaller bins, boxes, containers).

– Access:  This goes hand in hand with getting organized.  The bottom line is, the easier it is to access your craft supplies, the more likely you are to use them.  If you put them in the basement, in a box that’s falling apart, on top of an old shelf that you can barely reach, the odds of you using them often are slim (because it seems like such a hassle just to get them).  On the contrary, if your craft supplies are easy to get to and well organised, it’s not so daunting to whip out a few supplies to keep your tot engaged for 20 minutes.  Also consider which craft supplies (if any) you would like your tot to access independently.  As your children grow older (and less likely to destroy your home with art supplies), you will want to consider putting the supplies in a place where they can access them on their own.

Clean-Up: Choose a space in your home to do art depending on the mess factor of the project.  Put down an old sheet, wear old clothes and use washable craft supplies (they really are amazingly easy to clean off anything).  Also, it helps to mentally prepare by ACCEPTING that things will get a little messy and KNOWING that the clean-up is really not going to stressful or take very long because you are organized and have contained it in a small area.  Lastly, I always have a couple of rags on hand in case of any accidents – (I don’t want to be running to another room to get a rag, leaving two toddlers alone with spilled paint, glue or otherwise!)


Most educators (myself included) believe that creative expression is an integral part of early childhood learning.  As such, all of The Crystal Teaching Method curricula contain ‘creative skills’ as a key component of development and include at least one activity per day that involves creativity.  The links below will take you to the curriculum overview of the two programs we have available thus far: Clever Clovers & Reaching Roses.  Click the link that applies to the age of your baby then scroll down to the ‘Specific Skills‘ section to see the age-specific creative skills you could be working on (that are included in the curriculum).

Clever Clovers (15-18 months)

Reaching Roses (18-24 months)