Fun Stuff for Kids

Gardening with Kids

Every year my family plants a small garden – a couple of tomato plants, pepper plants, lots of sunflowers, and whatever else catches our eyes.  Each year the kids have been getting more and more involved in the entire process.  They enjoy planting the seeds or plants, digging out weeds, and especially watering each and every plant.  They also enjoy picking the tomatoes from the vine, pulling peppers to eat for dinner, and seeing the sunflowers bloom and tower over us all.

Not only does our garden produce wonderful food that we can enjoy, but is also a valuable teaching tool. Along with the fun of getting dirty and playing in the water, children learn valuable lessons with the help of gardening. They learn about patience as they wait for vegetables to grow, responsibility as they see how we have to care for the garden, and even loss when the plants die at the end of a season and we have to cut them down.

Gardening is a tool that not only families can use, but child care programs and schools as well.  In fact, at the Fall Conference of the Fort Wayne Association for the Education of Young Children, ECA’s Lisa Bradley, CACFP Food Monitor, and Marc Goeglein, Learning Center Co-Director, presented a workshop about this called, Magic Beans and Growing Things.  I asked Lisa and Marc if we could share some of the insights that they presented that day.

Whether you start a small window sill garden in your home, plant a garden in your yard, start a garden at school, or help with a community garden, I hope you share the experience with your children.

Have a Great Week!




Gardening – A small investment…with a huge return!

Why do we feel that it is important and beneficial to garden with children?

  • Gardening with children helps teach many of the Indiana Foundations (English and Language Arts, Math, Science, Social Studies, Physical Education and Health, Visual Arts).
  • It also introduces new and different foods.

What Can Preschoolers Grow?

  • Beans
  • Cabbage
  • Onions
  • Peppers
  • Squash & Gourds
  • Corn
  • Radishes
  • Watermelon
  • Cantaloupe
  • Honey Dew
  • Tomatoes
  • Cilantro
  • Sunflowers
  • Cucumbers
  • Zucchini
  • Potatoes
  • Strawberries
  • Pumpkins

What can you do once the garden starts to produce?

Kids can:

  • Weed the garden.
  • Water the garden.
  • Make charts.
  • Make predictions and observations.
  • Draw pictures of what is happening in the garden.
  • Harvest the produce.

Can they do anything else?

  • Paint with the Harvest (corn, cabbage, cucumbers, peppers, sunflowers, carrots, etc.)  Getting messy is OKAY!!!
  • Cut Cabbage
  • Clean Potatoes
  • Cook with the Harvest
  • Enjoy the “vegetables” of their labor


Lisa Bradley is a Food Monitor for the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP). She works across ECA’s 10-county service area, providing nutrition information and training while monitoring Program compliance. Lisa, who has a degree in culinary arts, has also worked as the Food Quality Controller at ECA’s Learning Center-Beacon Street.


Marc Goeglein is Center Co-Director at ECA’s Learning Center on Beacon Street. Prior to that, he was a classroom teacher there.  Marc, who has a degree in early childhood education, was instrumental in starting the gardening activities at Beacon Street. Since its inception, gardening at the Center has provided both learning experiences and real produce for the children at the Center.





Tips for Gardening with Children from NAEYC

Let’s Move – Kids In Motion

It is so important to get kids moving. Obesity in children in our country is a serious issue, but you can help fight that by getting your kids moving. You can help by getting yourself moving as well. If your kids exercise with you, chances are they are going to be more active.

Included here are 12 links (of the many available) to some fun and engaging ways to incorporate movement into your day.  Turn off the TV, put everything else aside, and make time to move with your kids.  For my family I developed a “Kids in Motion” basket with our favorite activities to have on hand, ready to go.

What is your favorite way to incorporate movement into your day?

Have a Great Week!





30 Days of Moving with Kids

26 Ways to Exercise through the ABC’s

Physical Activity Cube

The Card Deck Workout

Gross Motor Activities Using Blocks

From Head to Toe Activity Cards

Exercise Eggs

Yoga Obstacle Course

Getting Kids Moving – Fun Exercise Games

Kids Yoga Poses

Gross Motor Activities from A to Z

40 activities to get your kids MOVING!ties to get your kids MOVING!

On The Go Activities – Rest Stop Kit

Does your family have a road trip coming up this summer?  Mine is no exception.  In fact, we have a couple in the very near future.  First off, let me tell you that being cooped up with the kids in a vehicle for an extended number of hours is NOT my idea of fun.  However, it is a necessity to arrive at a desired destination.  To help keep everyone’s stress level under control and make the experience as pleasant as possible, we tend to stop every couple of hours.

In the car we always keep the following on hand for rest stops: bubbles, a couple balls, a Frisbee, sidewalk chalk, and a jump rope.  We are also packing a soccer ball this year since Hank started playing in the spring and absolutely loves it.

In planning for longer time in the car, I put together an activity kit to use when we stop along the way.  This will help everyone get the wiggles out and burn off some excess energy.  I thought it would be fun to have some additional games/activities that we can do as a family and make the rest stops more effective.

I would love to hear what you do to re-charge during a long road trip?

Have a Great Week!




  • Basket (Multi-Purpose: used in Games and also to hold everything)
  • 4 Mini Frisbees
  • 2 Jump Ropes
  • Paper Plates (at least 2 for each person)
  • Balloons
  • 8 Balls (Various Sizes)
  • 4 Rope Circles
  • 5 Mini Cones
  • Movement Dice
  • Rest Stop Exercise Cards
  • Rest Stop Game Cards







When it came time to include items in our Rest Stop Kit, my mind kept drifting back to the following two posts.  So combined both ideas and created the Movement Dice.

  • I read this blog a while ago from called Exercise … with Dice! and thought it was an interesting idea.




Since my brain usually stops working during our road trips, I wanted some printed Exercise Cards.  These cards have ideas of ways we can move our body during our rest break so we don’t have to come up with them on the fly.

  • I found some great information from Road Trip! 10 Rest Stop Activities for Kids by The Inspired Treehouse.   I used a lot of their ideas and created the printable exercise cards (activities) linked to above.  Be sure to check out their Outdoor Sensory Motor Scavenger Hunt.  I plan to use it as a stand-alone activity when my kids get older.




I created printable Game Cards so that all of the ideas would be right at my fingertips. Most of the games I previously used in another blog, but decided they fit in perfectly with our Rest Stop Kit as well.  However, the following games were inspired by other blog posts that I have recently read.

  • Ins and OutsI was reading a blog post from Organize Your Stuff Now about Outdoor Games for Kids and thought this game would be great to use as a resource for our family. 
  • Miniature Frisbee Golf – I saw a pin from Moms of All Trades and thought it would be nice as a mini take-along version.

Read With Me

“Up!  Up!”  I look down, and there is my smiley-faced almost two-year-old reaching up to me with a book in her hand – a frequent scene at our home.  Faith loves to have books read to her.  She will pick books off the shelf and bring them to me throughout the day, or to anyone, to read.  I am amazed that this bundle of energy, who will not sit still for much these days, will intently sit on a lap if a story is being read.  She will participate by pointing at pictures, helping to turn the page, and “telling” the story along with whomever is reading.  However, she is not the only one who enjoys being read to on a daily basis.  Her big brother likes to have stories read to him just as much.

My kids get it honestly.  Some of the best memories I have of childhood revolve around being read stories by the people around me – at home, at Grandma’s, at church, at school, etc.  I am grateful that my children are getting to have some of same experience and opportunities that I had growing up.  Nothing warms my heart more than to see my children curled up in a lap being read a story.

However, they are both at ages where they enjoy listening to the same stories over and over again.  Therefore it’s important for me to find books that I (along with others) enjoy reading as much as the kids enjoy hearing.  Following is a list of a dozen of our current favorites that we read again and again.

It is important keep the books interesting, I like to try different voices, ask questions throughout the book, point out something new in the illustrations, etc.  Here is a link to an article that gives some great tips for reading with kids:  Tips for Sharing Books with Babies and Toddlers

For the moment I can still fit both children on my lap at the same time to read.  However, too soon this moment will pass, and then one day they won’t want to have me read to them at all.  Until then I am going to cherish every moment and maybe someday they will look back fondly on our time together.

Do you have favorite books that you share with your toddler or preschooler?  Please share!  I’m always looking for books to add to our ever-growing library.

Have a Great Week!





Faith’s Board Book Picks

  • Duck & Goose Find a Pumpkin, by Tad Hills – In fact, she likes all of the Duck & Goose books in the series.
  • Little Blue Truck, by Alice Schertle
  • Barnyard Dance, by Sandra Boynton
  • Open the Barn Door, by Christopher Santoro

Hank’s Picks

  • I’m Dirty, by Kate and Jim McMullan – He also really likes I Stink and I’m Mighty by the same authors.
  • The Three Bears ABC, by Grace Maccarone
  • I Love Trains, by Philemon Sturges
  • Five Little Penguins Slipping on the Ice, by Steve Metzger – Yes, I know it is not wintertime, but with books, it can be all seasons any time of the year.

Both Kids Picks

  • The Very Hungry Caterpillar, by Eric Carle
  • We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, by Helen Oxenbury
  • What Makes a Rainbow, by Betty Ann Schwartz
  • Ladybug Colors, by Kidsbooks – This is really Faith’s book, but every time I read it, Hank makes his way onto my lap and reads along as well.