Friday Faves

Here are 5 fun things we saw this week.
Have a great weekend!

Starbucks Barista, Lenin Gutierrez, Gets $27,000 In ‘Tips’ For Standing Up To A ‘Karen’ Who Refused To Wear A Mask

What’s a Karen?

“You never get a second chance to make a first impression”

“I think you could have been nicer to me today”

We love @littleoneslearn ‘s simple set up for creating rock monsters!

Summer Reads

The official start to summer is here but we have already been diving into our bookshelves to find summer books to highlight for our kiddos. As avid readers, we love when our children ask to have books read to them and we share the joy of diving into a big pile of picture books together. Story time is such a wonderful activity for developmental growth as well
as emotional bonding and relaxation. (You can check out our previous posts about reading here and our spring book list post here.)

Now that the lazy, hazy days of summer are upon us, take time (when you can) to let your child explore and enjoy any and all books available to them at their own pace. Let them read the same book(s) over and over again. During those long humid afternoons, use books to indulge in the slowing down of summertime without any pressures to hurry up and rush out the
door. Story time is the perfect way to escape without booking a vacation! Set up a reading corner or just place a pile of books near a comfy chair or by the sofa; that way books are always in sight and accessible for your child. Let your child choose which books to read and if they are not able to sit through the whole book that’s ok! You can read to your child while they are
playing next to you or when they are eating breakfast or even while in the tub! Make reading an “anytime of the day” activity not just at bedtime!

We have rearranged our bookshelves and the books that we keep around the house to include summer themes as well as diverse characters and anti-racism awareness. We wanted to highlight some books that we are currently enjoying at home with our children as well as some books that we are ordering to help diversify our own libraries.

Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Pena and Christian Robinson – experience the sights and sounds of the city

Say Hello! by Rachel Isabora – Carmelita loves to greet everyone in her diverse neighborhood

Peek a Boo Morning by Rachel Isadora – a little boy plays peek a boo and sees Mommy, Daddy, his puppy and others

Whistle for Willie by Jack Ezra Keats – Peter wishes he could whistle and tries throughout the day as he explores his neighborhood

Saturday by Oge Mora – a mother and daughter Saturday outing turns upside down

Shades of People by Shelley Rotner – adorable photographs of children with the message that people come in many shades

Happy in Our Skin by Fran Manushkin & Lauren Tobia – recognizes and values diversity

Littles and How they Grow by Kelly DiPucchio & AG Ford – if your baby loves babies this book has sweet illustrations that show a diverse range of babies and families

It’s OK to be Different by Todd Parr – it’s ok to be who you are with Todd Parr’s signature colorful illustrations

The Family Book by Todd Parr – celebrating different types of families

Pride 123 by Michael Joosten – a Pride parade counting book

Everywhere Babies by Susan Meyers – all the wonderful things babies do best

My Papi has a Motorcyle by Isabel Quintero – A celebration of the love between a father and daughter, and of a vibrant immigrant neighborhood

My Daddy and Me by Linda Ashman – celebrating the day-to-days of fatherhood

Follow: or @hereweeread – Charnaie has created a wonderful resource of diverse books for all ages. or @bookshop_org – Where you can shop online and support local bookshops. You can also search for Here Wee Read’s book lists! or @localpassportfamily – Preethi has an informative blog and a summer event called Global Children’s Book Club. It’s free and easy to sign up and you can follow along as she takes you around the world with virtual tours, books, and projects. Geared for preschoolers and above.

We would love to hear what books you plan to discover this summer. Let us know in the
Now, go read!
Michele and Chelsie

Friday Faves

In the recent weeks, people all over the world are looking for ways to support the black community. It can be daunting for some to go to a protest, it may be difficult for others to donate money or time. But there is a way for everyone to help. We are bringing you a few resources on anti-racism so you can find what works for you and your family to help end racism now.

Books: The NY Times Best Sellers list is currently primarily black authors, and for good reason. While many bookstores and libraries (big and small) are out of stock, keep checking, try a digital or audio version, or ask your Facebook friends if anyone has a copy they are done with. Highlighted below is Austin Channing’s book on growing up a black, Christian woman in America.

People Power with Andre Henry
Andre Henry has a passion for making the invisible visible. In the summer of 2016, he began carrying a solid granite boulder around Los Angeles to show the weight of systemic racism on the Black psyche. Months later, he walked around dressed for a funeral with the names of the victims of state violence written on his jacket; in response to the police involved death of his mentally ill neighbor, JR Thomas. Andre is a student of nonviolent struggle and social change, including studying leadership in nonviolent movements for social change through the Harvard Kennedy School.

First Name Basis
As parents, we all want to teach our kids to be inclusive, but how? Join Jasmine Bradshaw each week as she gives you the tools and practical strategies that you need to talk to your children about race, religion, and culture. If you are a parent who values inclusion and wants to teach your children how to truly love those who are different from them, this podcast is for you!

Code Switch
We’re a multi-racial, multi-generational team of journalists fascinated by the overlapping themes of race, ethnicity and culture, how they play out in our lives and communities, and how all of this is shifting.

Just listen to anything. Anything different. Try a new station in the R&B, Hip Hop, or Jazz category. Open your ears to new sounds. Some favorite Pandora stations are “Classic R&B” “Pop and Hip Hop Power Work Out” and “Morning Motown”

Usually we feature a favorite of the week but we couldn’t just pick one.

We hope this small list of resources helps you find a way to support our black communities and learn more about yourself.

Race and Empathy

There are so many emotions that our country is experiencing right now: anger, fear, frustration, sadness, grief, horror. If you are feeling any of these emotions, your child is feeling it too. Children learn from their parents and feed off their emotional energy. However, it is not easy to put those emotions aside in times of great upheaval and strife. What can help to quell the despair and helplessness, is action. Helping someone in need, calling on friends and family, donating time, money, or goods and using your voice to strengthen the voice of others. We, as parents, have been committed to teaching our children right from wrong, even before they are born. But we now understand that it is our responsibility to teach not just acceptance, but acknowledgement of our differences and the celebration of those differences. We have a responsibility to teach our children not only to be kind, but also empathetic to the feelings and struggles of others. We have a responsibility to teach our children not only about race and racism, but how to stand up and speak up against racism in all its forms.

If you are looking for ways to begin these lessons at home with your child, here are some ideas to get you started.

Start early:
Babies will begin to recognize faces and stare at faces that look familiar, by 6 months. At toddler age, children are recognizing differences in people and can learn simple age appropriate concepts about race. What is important to remember is not to ignore racial differences, but to talk about them in thoughtful and respectful ways.

Acknowledge, Accept, and Celebrate Our Differences:
Pointing out differences in skin tone, hair texture, and other cultural differences helps our children to understand the world around them. Children are looking to their parents to give them insights on how to categorize and process what they are taking in. If your child points out differences in people they see or meet, use it as an opportunity to celebrate those differences (Yes! They look different from us and isn’t it wonderful that we have different colors of skin/hair/eyes etc). When we as parents acknowledge and accept the differences of individuals, we are showing our
children that our differences are not a deterrent to being friends.

The more we expose our children to others of different backgrounds than ours, we are helping them to create a wider world view. Our view of the world is narrow when you look at your own neighborhood, school, playmates etc. Challenge that through exposure. When we are able to socialize again, try out a “new to you” playground once a week. Your child will love the novelty of it and they will also have an opportunity to see and
interact with other children that may look different then them. Also, set up a play date with a new neighbor you’ve been wanting to meet. Until then, add to your home library and choose picture books featuring and written by POC. Make sure the characters are as diverse as their skin tones. It is important that the books you choose depict POC in many different roles, just as in the real world. Also, choose diverse television programs to expose your child to multicultural characters as well. Sesame Street has been creating positive multicultural programming for decades.

Model Kindness and Empathy:
Empathy is the ability to understand what someone else is feeling. We are born with the capacity to feel empathy but it is something that needs to be
developed. As parents, we can teach our children how to be empathetic by modeling those behaviors with our kids. Pretend play is one way to do that. By using toys to role play simple age appropriate situations of caring, inclusion, and acceptance you are giving your child powerful tools to help them navigate challenging emotional situations. While reading books together, talk about the character’s expressions and emotions. Asking
simple questions such as, “How does Gerald feel?” and “How could you help Gerald feel happy?” are easy for young children to understand and verbalize. If your child doesn’t have an answer, talk it through for them. They will be learning through your empathetic response. When children can once again socialize together, use play dates and playground meet ups to talk through emotions in the moment. Even if your child doesn’t get it at first, the continued practice of identifying emotions in other people is
part of developing the skills of empathy. Most importantly, your child learns from you. How you treat, react and respond to others, especially POC, what you watch and listen to, what you read, and who you socialize with will give your child the most influential lessons of race and racism of all.

We at Play to Grow are devastated for the BIPOC community and we stand with them as they are crying out for real change. We are listening to understand how to help and are committed to learning about our role in this fight for racial equality. We are at the beginning of our own journey in making antiracism truly part of our family’s, and Play to Grow’s, narrative and will be exploring and sharing more on this topic in the future as we learn and grow in our own education.

Here are some resources you may find interesting. We will be
adding to this list as we come across more information that may
be beneficial:

Multicultural Books for Babies and Toddlers

Books About Activism for Kids

TV Shows with Diverse Character

“Even Babies Discriminate: A NutureShock Excerpt”

Look Who’s Talking!

Today we are sharing five favorite toys to promote language development as well as development in all areas (cognitive, motor, social emotional) for babies from 0-12 months. This post is in addition to our original post, which also lists five perfectly easy
and fun toys/activities for your baby: you can read that one here. Play is how our children learn, grow, and develop. As your baby grows, so too will their interest and skills in various activities. By using simple, open-ended, child led toys and games you are
helping your baby to understand the world around them. Your child will be delighted when you play in these simple ways over and over again. That’s because repetition is part of the learning process. Play again and again; as long as your baby is interested
he/she is making important brain connections.
Listening to words encourages receptive and expressive
language understanding
Watching creates memory, thinking, and problem solving skills
Participation uses large and small muscles
Interaction encourages social and emotional connections with

Blocks and Stacking Cups
Two of the most fun, interactive, and open ended toys ever! Babies are in the early stage of block play. They are exploring, holding, and carrying the blocks. For little babies, begin by using soft sensory blocks that they can explore with all their senses. Add different textures, weights, materials, and colors as they grow. Show them how the cups and blocks stack up and then allow the baby to knock them all down!  You can read more about block play here.

Toy Cars
So much fun can be had with simple toys! Babies can watch as the cars move and roll. Add sound effects so babies can hear the engine roar and the horn beep! Roll the wheels gently on baby’s hands or feet. While baby is playing on the floor, place a toy car close enough for baby to touch so they can make it move. Baby will be excited for the cause and effect reaction.

Toy Animals
Children love animals! Soft stuffed animals as well as smaller baby safe animals, such as the Little People brand, are wonderful for exploring different sizes, shapes, and characteristics. Show baby how the animals move and what sounds they make. Talk and show your baby how the monkey swings and the elephant stomps and then help baby to move like the animals too!

Boxes and Baskets
Boxes and baskets are perfect for sparking interest and provide opportunities for babies to explore items inside, outside, and under! Use smaller boxes or baskets to create a bin to explore items of various textures or colors. Use baskets to play fill-and-dump games and boxes to reach inside and pull surprise toys out. Big boxes can become a sensory bin big enough for baby! You can read more about cardboard box play here.

Edible Sensory Play
As your child begins to taste foods you can begin to explore sensory play with them. Edible sensory play is easier because baby inevitably wants to taste everything he/she sees! To start, set up a safe place for baby to play: sitting up is best when food is involved so a high chair would be ideal. You can use applesauce and other pureed foods and oatmeal, pudding, and cereal as they begin to eat more types and textures of foods. Water play is also fun at the table or during tummy time. Place a clean cookie sheet with a small amount of water in front of baby as they sit in their chair or lay on their tummy. Let them explore the water (warm water is more inviting) by swishing, splashing, and tasting.

Lastly, and most importantly, YOU are your child’s favorite toy! Play, talk, read, sing, dance, tickle, cuddle, and enjoy the time spent together!

Now, go play!
Chelsie and Michele

Play it Again!

Welcome back to our “Play it Again” blog series. If you missed the
first post you can check it out here.
This series is about sharing multiple ways to play with one simple toy or
object to encourage and enhance cognitive, communication, social/
emotional, and motor skills for your baby, toddler, and preschooler. We
hope sharing a few simple ideas will make play time more fun and may
spark your own creativity!

Today, we are talking about blocks. Blocks are the most perfect toy!
They are open ended, versatile, adaptable, creative, and come in many
different varieties. Blocks can be played with in so many different ways to
further all areas of development from the baby stage to older children.
Playing with blocks provides opportunities for learning science, math,
problem solving, gross and fine motor, language, creativity, imagination,
and social emotional skills like self esteem and cooperation. Not only that,
when parents get down on the floor to play with their child they are also
learning ways to enhance development by using specific language (up, on
top, build, balance), sharing, building together, and celebrating success.
It’s fun for everyone! Before you begin, make sure you have blocks
available and accessible for your child. That way they can grab the blocks
anytime and start playing in their own way. We use baskets to corral
similar blocks on our toy shelf, but stacking blocks on a shelf to be easily
seen is a great option too.

Babies (6-12 months)
Babies are in the early stage of block play. They are exploring, holding,
and carrying the blocks.
Use a bin with low sides and toss blocks of various textures, weights,
colors, and sizes to explore.
Use soft blocks to play fill and dump games. Use a basket or cardboard
box to fill up with blocks then dump it out to start again. This is your baby’s
way of exploring early concepts of science and math.
Babies also love to tap objects and hear the sounds they make. Use
wooden and plastic blocks to tap together and tap on metal pots or bowls.
Add some drum music in the background to play along with.
Use the soft blocks to make a tower for your baby to knock down. Practice
saying “go” and “more” and giving your baby time to respond.
Place blocks along the couch so your baby can cruise toward each one and
practice those steps!

Toddlers (1-3 years)
Try the baby activities and also…
Build simple structures with blocks and knock them down!
Build blocks up and also horizontally on the floor. Challenge your child to
see how long or tall their structure can go. Also, create two structures side
by side and explore which one is bigger, taller, or longer.
Trace different shaped blocks on paper and have your child find the match.
Also, use various shapes, sizes, and colors of blocks and make matching
Use muffin tins to practice one-to-one correspondence with small alphabet
blocks then use the alphabet blocks to identify the pictures on the sides for
an early math and language activity.
Make block structures and incorporate a favorite character or stuffed
animal. Place the toy on top of, under, in, out, in front of, behind to practice
positional words.
Play block bowling by making small block towers then knocking them down
with a ball.
Begin to use blocks in pretend play. For example make a fence for the
barnyard animals, make a tree for the monkey to climb, or a train track for
Thomas to ride.

Preschoolers (3-5 years)
Try the toddler activities and also…
Make bridges and enclosures with blocks to explore the concepts of
Preschoolers are at the stage of using blocks for more pretend play by
making advanced structures for their play world. Allow them the freedom to
“take over” the living room rug for a bit as their creativity soars!
Use a spring scale and measure the weight of blocks.
Use blocks to measure things around the house. How long is the couch?
How tall is the desk? How tall am I?
Have a building contest with mom, dad or a sibling and see who can stack
and balance the blocks the tallest.
Use colorful blocks to make simple patterns.
Use blocks as dice and tape pictures to the sides.
Use action pictures to play a movement game, letters and a bingo board to practice reading skills, and familiar or even unusual pictures to practice language skills by making up a story. Each roll of the dice is a new line of the story. Your child may
just want to listen at first but will soon play along.

Last, but not least, follow the child’s lead as they build and play with blocks
Let them figure out what will and will not work according to the laws of
gravity! 😉

Now, go play!
Chelsie and Michele

Friday Faves

Here are 5 fun things we saw this week.
Have a great weekend!
-Michele and Chelsie

Color, Wash, Repeat!

I Used to Be a Chef. Now I’m Defeating Monsters With a Toddler in My Empty Restaurant

The Most Wonderful Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies – we are not vegan, however, we do have food allergies in our house.  I made these and they were one of the best cookies I’ve ever had.  Plus, we’ll be making them LIVE for you today!

SNL gives parents a new anthem, not everyone was happy with it.  Did it make you laugh?

And our fan favorite of the week:

Screenshot 2020-05-15 at 5.38.23 AM
“What mess?” Always love @verymessymemories messy play posts, but this one says it all!