Must-Have Holiday Gift Guide for Toddlers

With the holidays right around the corner, we asked some of our associates with children what they were planning on purchasing for gift giving. This is the first of a series of posts written by our employees on what they think the must-haves are for their children this year.

1. I have decided that I no longer am worried that my almost-two-year old will eat Play-Doh. We are almost past the putting items in our mouth stage, so I am ready to try this fun and creative toy this year. Not only will I be purchasing Play-Doh for my daughter (probably the Play-Doh Fun Factory or Play-Doh Ice Cream Castle) but I am also going to be purchasing some kits for my nieces and nephews. One of my nieces really loves playing school, so the Play-Doh Tools Assorted Schoolpack is perfect for her.

holiday gift giving2. Sesame Street is a huge hit in our household. Not only does he sleep with his Elmo every night but he also decided that was the only Halloween costume that he could be this year. So when I saw this Sesame Street LOVE2LEARN Elmo I just had to purchase it. I love that it is an interactive toy, and he can have fun while learning letter and numbers at the same time. It has sensors in the nose, hands and belly so it’s really engaging to kids. Continue reading

The Fall and Rise of Physical Education: Part 2

As George Graham takes us through the eight categories that he believes Physical Educators fall into in Part 1 of his series: The Fall and Rise of Physical Education, we assess his statements within our PE community. Now, 8 days before the PETE conference in Atlanta, George assesses the effectiveness of PETE programs, and offers his candid opinion on creating successful clinical faculty.

Below is an introduction to Part 2 of the series. You can read the full post here.

This is the second of four blogs I am writing related to K-12 physical education in the United States. In the first blog, the Fall and Rise of Physical Education, I suggested that physical educators could be classified into eight related categories—rollers, gamers, fitters, brainers, innovators, at-riskers, activators and teachers. The last category of the eight was teacher. For me this is the most desirable category of physical educator because in my view these individuals are attempting to implement quality programs that lead to the physical literacy of their students as defined in many of the Shape America documents. In my opinion it takes a great deal of knowledge, expertise and practical experience to become a teacher of physical education as defined in the previous blog. Physical Education Teacher Education (PETE) programs are no doubt the major influence on whether an undergraduate becomes a teacher—or one of the other seven categories of physical educator described in the previous blog.

Typically future K-12 physical educators attend a college or university and major in a program that is designed to prepare them to teach in the schools. These programs often lead to state licensure or certification. Some PETE programs are more effective than others and their graduates begin their careers ready to begin implementing quality programs of physical education—i.e. they are on their way to becoming teachers. Other graduates, however, appear to lack the prerequisite skills, background and understanding necessary to implement quality programs. Or perhaps, equally or more importantly, they lack the commitment and dedication to do the hard work necessary to develop quality programs in less than ideal environments.  Why?

KISS – Classroom Management for 1st Grade Teachers


1st Grade Classroom Management

Here’s our new KISS – Keep is Simple Strategies – for 1st Grade Teachers

Many people feel that 1st Grade teachers are the most important in a child’s life. This is the year where reading instruction begins in earnest; until now, students have been engaged in readiness efforts. Teachers face a huge disparity in student readiness for school on the first day. Some children may not have been through any preschool at all, in some states, Kindergarten is not required and many children will not have gone through Head Start or pre-school.

To view other classroom management tips in the KISS series, click here.

Here are some of the tips we’ve collected from other first grade teachers:

Have a plan A, B, C, and D, especially in the early days of the school year.

Plan for limited attention span:

Television and simulation games have created an expectation that classroom lessons will move at this speed. Computer software that mimics games has helped students gain some exposure to subjects they will study in school, but they may not be prepared for group work or a slower pace to accommodate all children.

Project excitement for learning:

Prepare some posters and bulletin boards that say “coming soon”, they’re used to this approach in the real world and it may provide a bridge to the classroom. If you’re excited, this can be contagious. Use other bulletin boards to spark interest in learning.

Use signals for gaining and keeping attention. Continue reading

Activities to Honor our Veteran VIPs

veteran's day activities

With Veterans Day fast approaching, begin planning a meaningful, yet eventful day for your nursing facility’s veterans as you treat them like VIPs throughout the day. Also, these are great ideas activities to consider if you are honoring Veterans at your school or center that day. Our friends from, share with us how to make these heroes feel special:

  1. Plan a Flag-Raising Ceremony. If your facility has a flagpole in the yard, schedule a flag-raising ceremony outdoors to raise the American flag. If possible, record and play the bugle call melody To the Colors as the flag is being raised.
  1. Play an Army-Navy Game (or even an Air Force-Marines Game). Pick a favorite floor game, like shuffleboard or bowling, and invite the different military branch veterans to compete against one another. Be sure to award bragging rights to the winning branch of service.
  1. Host a Veterans Day Speaker. Plan a visit from a local veteran to share his military experiences and stories with your residents.
  1. Form a Veterans Story Circle. Organize a reminiscing activity for your veterans to share their military stories. Seat residents in a large circle and encourage each one to talk about their time in the military. If you have a large amount of participants, limit the discussion by focusing the story circle on just one topic, like when the veterans were drafted or the day they returned to U.S. soil. You can even create a Veteran themed Toss and Talk About Ball with this Create Your Own  Ball.
  1. Schedule a Veterans Day Parade. Host a parade in your facility featuring your veterans. Beforehand, decorate the parade route with patriotic bunting and lots of red, white, and blue balloons. During the parade, stop each veteran along their march to quickly introduce themselves and share a little about their time in service. Provide the spectators along the parade route with mini flags to wave as they cheer on their veterans.
  1. Organize a Care-Package Party. Recruit veterans to assist with assembling care packages for troops overseas. Ahead of time, take a trip to your local dollar store to pick up supplies to be assembled and packed up during the care-package party. 
  1. Assemble Poppy Boutonnieres & Corsages. Make these paper poppies to use as boutonnieres for the men and as corsages for the ladies. 
  1. Make Thank You Cards. Use paper and markers (link to: to create thank you cards to give to all the veterans (including staff members) in your facility.

About is an online resource of fun, senior activity ideas for activity professionals of nursing homes and assisted living facilities. They have been providing fun activity ideas online since 2009, and we continue to assist activity professionals across the country by creating meaningful and engaging activity ideas for their residents that go “beyond bingo.” Don’t get them wrong – bingo is fun, but we want to spread the word that there is more to life than just bingo. Overall, feels privilege to help activity directors better the living experiences of their residents while demonstrating that a senior’s quality of life can actually improve when they move to a nursing facility.


An Active Game of Hungry Hungry Hippos


While I was speaking to one of my customers, they had mentioned an awesome game that they started playing within their Physical Education classes. A life-size version of the game Hungry Hungry Hippos! The activity follows the idea of the childhood game, where you slide on scooters trying to catch the most balls on the ground!

The awesome part about this game? Students have to work together as a team to play. One person lays on their stomach on the scooter, while their teammate is behind them, holding up their feet (like a wheelbarrow race, but the scooter is used instead of arms). The person that is behind, pushes the other person’s legs into the middle of the circle so they can catch balls on the ground with a bucket. The person at the end with the most about of balls, wins! Continue reading

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