Thoughts, tips, ideas, and information from the Director of our K1-K3 students

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ECE Director's Blog

New Tools for ECE Play-Based Learning

Hello families! I am excited to take this time to tell you a little about some things I have been doing to bring science to life in our Kimak classrooms. I recently was awarded a $1500 PTO mini-grant, which are grants designed to fund the purchase of items that are beyond the scope of the normal school operating budget, and will positively impact significant numbers of students and their learning.

With this grant, I have purchased many educational tools that have been brought into the classroom and are being rotated so all the children will have access to these innovative new toys. Some of the things I bought include:

  • Liquid timers, which help with time management and calming and relaxation in the classroom;
  • Tornado tubes, to help children discover different weather patterns;
  • Ant Farm light up colonies for kids, to watch ants construct tunnels and make homes;
  • Root View farms, so learners can see how the life cycle of a vegetable looks in all stages of growth; and
  • Fillable kaleidoscopes, which children use by adding their own trinkets to look at through the kaleidoscope lens. Pictured here are some of our children enjoying magnifying blocks, which will help them see magnified details of things in their classrooms, all while they construct and build like little engineers! 


Play-based learning remains at the leading edge of preschool educational strategies. Children are known to learn best when they can make inquiries, even if guided, and these tools will help them become more thoughtful and focused learners.

One of my favorite purchases was six portable light tables, with all kinds of interesting and exciting things to observe and explore -  such as agate slices, laminated plant and insect specimens, and many other fun accessories. The light tables will be signed out and shared between classrooms. I will also be bringing some of these tools into my STEAM clubs! 

A big thank you to the PTO for offering these mini-grants to those of us who love to continuously improve our classrooms and learning experiences!

Read more about play-based learning here.

New Year's and Goal Setting With Your Children

New Year’s is a perfect time to help your children change a behavior or work on a new skill. This can all be achieved in the form of NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS!

When dealing with young children, the idea of a New Year’s Resolution can be exciting. But with short attention spans and living in a world of immediate gratification, resolutions can also be a great way to help them understand and set realistic goals that take time and work to be achieved.

  • First, set a goal with your child.  How do you pick a goal? Think about something you might want them to improve on. Maybe you want them to set the table before dinner, or clear it afterwards. Maybe you want them to complete a 3 step bedtime routine every night. Maybe they want to make more friends. Whatever the goal, make it a specific goal they can reach.
  • What would you need to reach these goals? Many children do well with visual cues. A chart they can mark with pictures is a great way to give them the responsibility. For example, if you want your child to set the table every night, make a chart with a picture of each thing they will need - plates, forks, spoons, napkins, glasses, etc. They can check to be sure they have each item.  You can also have a picture of where each item should be placed.
  • Try not to set them up for failure; think of ways to help them achieve their goal. Will they need a step stool to reach the plates? If your child wants to make new friends, have a goal of inviting someone over twice a month for playdates. Mark a calendar when friends come over to be sure you are reaching your goal.
  • Check in with your child and encourage them to reach their goals. If you notice your child has not had any friends over yet, remind her that you are going to the park this weekend and encourage them to invite a friend. Or, have them help pick out new napkins for the dinner table so that they feel they are part of the decision making process, and will take more pride in their work.
  • Remember not to nag your children. Encourage them, and if they do not reach their goals, talk them through it. What could you have done differently? Maybe offer to join your child, get different supplies, or find a better way to document your progress. Try reviewing what went wrong and decide how to improve next time. But always give accolades for a job well done and encourage your child to keep trying even when things do not go as planned. This is how we learn, and you can share your own experiences as well to encourage your kids to work through successes and failures.  For example,  say to them, “When I set a goal of reading 3 books a month, I soon realized I did not have time for it, so I now try to read 2 books a month and I make sure there is no more than 200 pages in each book. “ 

Most of all, have fun! And have a Happy New Year! 


Halloween Tips & Tricks

Hello everyone!

I’m Carrie Joe, Early Childhood Education Director at the International School of Denver - and welcome to my first blog! I am so excited to bring you fun and entertaining blogs full of tips and tricks for your families. This blog has to do with my favorite holiday, Halloween!

Many of you have first time Trick-or-Treaters, and this may be your first time Trick-or-Treating with your kids if you don’t have older children. Here are a few ideas to help make your Trick-or-Treating experience safe and fun for everyone! HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

Before you go

  • Eat a healthy dinner. With a full belly, your little ones will not be as tempted to snack on all the goodies and candy they will be getting throughout the night.
  • Make sure your costumes are safe!
    • Be sure that shoes fit to avoid tripping.
    • Use make-up instead of masks so children can see where they are going. (Pro tip: If you do have a mask, make the eye holes big and push the mask up on top of their head between houses.) Use reflective tape on costumes, and have kids carry a flashlight or glow stick so they are seen more easily. And brighter costumes are a good idea as well.
  • Plan your route ahead of time. Talk to your kids. Let me know the expectation is for everyone to stay together at all times.

·       Call your crew! Make plans to go out with a handful of adults.

While you’re out

  • Stay on sidewalks and cross streets at the corners or crosswalks. Don’t let kids run ahead or separate from the group.
  • Don’t let your kids swap wigs or hats. (Avoid the scariest Halloween goblin of all - lice!) Only visit well-lit houses. Don’t go inside a house. If you know your neighbors, you can decide if you want to go inside as a group, but be sure the adults give permission and accompany the children if you choose to go inside.

Once you’re home

  • Inspect candy. Don’t let your children eat homemade treats unless you know who gave them to you.
  • Ration candy (to the best of your ability). After Halloween night, you can offer one treat a day for dessert, donate left over candy, put one piece in lunches, etc.


Most of all, have FUN! Make memories! And have a safe and happy Halloween!

I’d love to hear your favorite tips and tricks for a safe and fun Halloween. Use the comments feature below to share your ideas.