Huron Playschool Cooperative

Great New Books

For pre-schoolers: 

We Sang You Home, by Richard Van Camp and Julie Flett

In this sweet and lyrical board book from the creators of the bestselling Little You, gentle rhyming text captures the wonder new parents feel as they welcome baby into the world. A celebration of the bond between parent and child, this is the perfect song to share with your little ones.

Internationally renowned storyteller and bestselling author Richard Van Camp teams up with award-winning illustrator Julie Flett for a second time to create a stunning board book for babies and toddlers.

For school-age children: 

Stepping Stones: A Refugee Family's Journey, by Margriet Ruurs and Nizar Badr

This unique picture book was inspired by the stone artwork of Syrian artist Nizar Ali Badr, discovered by chance by Canadian children’s writer Margriet Ruurs. The author was immediately impressed by the strong narrative quality of Mr. Badr’s work, and, using many of Mr. Badr’s already-created pieces, she set out to create a story about the Syrian refugee crisis. Stepping Stones tells the story of Rama and her family, who are forced to flee their once-peaceful village to escape the ravages of the civil war raging ever closer to their home. With only what they can carry on their backs, Rama and her mother, father, grandfather and brother, Sami, set out to walk to freedom in Europe. Nizar Ali Badr’s stunning stone images illustrate the story.

Orca Book Publishers is pleased to offer this book as a dual-language (English and Arabic) edition.

Playschool Fashion

Because any day is a good day to dress like a classic picture book. 

Happy World Teachers Day!

Today is World Teachers Day, a day first proclaimed by UNESCO in 1994. As a parent-run cooperative program, the parents at Huron Playschool know better than most do how essential excellent teaching is to early childhood education, and we are so grateful to our extraordinary staff for the work they do for our children and our families. 

Tracey, Mimi and Julia, we are grateful for your goodness every single day. Thank you for all you do. 

Scenes from the After School Program

Lots of creating was going on at playschool's after school program on Friday. Thanks to playschool parent Ingrid who was on co-op duty and managed to keep the kids still long enough to take a few pictures of what they were up to.

PS For a counterintuitive take on contemporary "maker" culture, check out this article, "Why I am Not a Maker." 

Duct tape fun




Glue gun fun

Early Days

In September, the walls at playschool are clean and bare, ready to be decorated with the artwork our children will create throughout the year. And the work has begun, with the display of these collages, a fun exercise and shapes and getting gluey. It's remarkable to think about how much the art will have changed by the end of the year, with the children having learned and progressed in their skills, ideas and manuel dexterity. It's all such a process, and wonderful to see. 

A chance moment

Do I admire my goldfish mug (my favourite mug!) because it reminds me of playschool's resident goldish, Mr. Bubbles—or do I admire Mr. Bubbles because he is a goldfish? The answer to both questions is probably yes. In Feng Shui, goldfish are meant to symbolize good luck and prosperity. Certainly, observing their bright colour and serenity brings about in one a sense of wellbeing. 

My mug was created by artist Phillis McCulloch, whose work currently occupies the window display at Clay Design Studio and Gallery, not far from playschool at 170 Brunswick Avenue (at Harbord Street). Along with her beautiful works (which are available for purchase) the display includes a short write-up with goldfish facts ("The collective noun for goldish is 'troubling'") and an artistic statement from McCulloch about how she believes "the fish gracing her pottery have been caught in a chance moment." 

As people who spend time with small children, we all know plenty about moments like that, and the days are packed with loads of them...the most chaotic of which, it's true, are always made better by a good cup of tea. 

Canadian Children's Book Centre Awards


There's always something good on offer on the playschool bookselves, and selections are switched up all the time! If you're interested in keeping your kids' book selection at home just as enticing, then do check out the finalists for the Canadian Children's Book Centre Awards, which were just announced, and represent the best and most exciting new books in Canadian children's literature. (We're particularly fans of all the titles nominated for the $20,000 Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Prize!) These books are all available at your local library, and available for order in all the places where good books are sold.


Dr Tastebuds (...or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Playschool Snack)


It was four years ago this fall that I came down with a condition I self-diagnosed as SNACK ANXIETY. It was my first time preparing snack for my daughter's playschool class, and I felt like the pressure was on. During the weekend before our family's first snack week was to begin, I actually had snack anxiety dreams, about sad sunken muffins and emaciated carrots. I was worried about what to bring, and how much, and what the teachers would think about our offerings, and what if the children hated it? 

Thankfully, these days the snack anxiety has subsided. I haven't dreamed about muffins in forever, and I could rig up a snack menu with my eyes closed. And to get you too to this peaceful place of snack duty bliss, I'm pleased to impart a few things I've learned over the years. 

1) Don't worry about "doing it right." Everybody does snack their own way based upon culinary skills, cultural background, time constraints, and children's peculiar eating habits. Own your snack week. Let your snack selves shine! 

2) Remember that nobody's going to go hungry. Snack is nicely sandwiched (see what I did there?) in between the more substantial meals of breakfast and lunch, and if a child happens to refuse what's on offer, she'll have another change to eat within the next 120 minutes. Everything is going to be fine. 

3) Make the foods that you know your child likes! This is why snack during our family's week is fruits than veggies. Full disclosure: this post is accompanied by a photo of peppers, and my children have never, ever eaten peppers ever. I'm working on it... But in the meantime, it will be apple slices and sliced strawberries on our end, carrot sticks in a pinch.

4) Take it easy on yourself. I have an old snack stand-by I keep on hand for the evenings when I barely have time to make my family dinner, let alone snack—thank goodness for whole wheat bagels with cream cheese, and a bag of apples! Snack is ready in a snap. 

5) Pay attention when you're on co-op shifts or check out the snack menu posted on the kitchen door. And then totally steal other parents' ideas. We are each others' best resources. 

6) Remember that snack is a snack and not a meal. Huge portions are not necessary. 

7) Don't be afraid to try new snack ideas. (See point 1 about OWNING YOUR SNACK WEEK.) The worst that will happen is that some children won't like what you're serving. But here's a secret: somebody's going to always not like what you're serving no matter what you do, so you might as well have a bit of fun. 

8) Fruits/veg and grains are relatively easy to prepare; protein is more of a challenge. Here's what I do: hummous, cheese, edamame, black bean brownies, chia chocolate pudding, chickpeas, or yoghurt. If you come up with another idea during your snack week, I'll probably steal it too ;)

9) If you're feeling really creative, do themed snacks. One parent did a different colour for each day of the week; another did a snack make up of different geometric shapes. I'm partial to baking scones and like to do an Afternoon Tea snack sometimes. And if you choose not to do anything like this, nobody will even notice.

10) Don't be afraid to make something amazing on the days that I'm on co-op duty. I will praise your snack prowess and probably love you forever.  

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