World of Words

 A question many families ask, especially of our preschool program, is what type of school preparation does our curriculum include?  As our programs are based on children’s interests and guided through play, we have incorporated school readiness practice for our older preschoolers; all through play.


 We support young children’s emerging literacy skills by planning activities that involve identifying print, recognizing letters, developing a love of books, writing, and appreciating the rhythm of language. This all starts in our infant program, with the introduction of the Jolly Phonics program. Jolly Phonics is a fun and child centred approach to teaching literacy through synthetic phonics that incorporates actions for each of the 42 letter sounds. 


 Using a synthetic phonics approach, Jolly Phonics teaches children the five key skills for reading and writing. The program continues through school enabling the teaching of essential grammar, spelling and punctuation skills. The five skills include learning the letter sounds, learning letter formation, blending, identifying the sounds in words (segmenting) and tricky words. In learning the letter sounds, children are taught the 42 main letter sounds. This includes alphabet sounds as well as digraphs such as sh, th, ai and ue. Nextly, in learning letter formation by using different multi-sensory methods like hand actions and gestures, children learn how to form and write the letters. Blending teaches children how to blend the sounds together to read and write new words. In identifying the sounds and listening for certain sounds in words; children have the best start for spelling. Jolly phonics incorporate tricky words, that have irregular spellings; children learn these separately.


 Letter recognition begins by immersing children in a literacy-rich environment and fostering a love of language and reading. When connecting letter recognition and actual writing, Islington Village has recently implemented Handwriting without Tears; a great initiative in emersing children in the world of words. The foundation of Handwriting without Tears is that writing is still the tool most used for communication even in such a digital era; the majority of work in elementary schools is done on paper. Handwriting without Tears exposes the benefits of printing in that it boosts brain development, encourages language use and expansion as well as critical thinking. 


  Similar to Jolly Phonics, Handwriting without Tears includes multi sensory mediums of instructing writing. For example, children use play dough to create letters which strengthens grip while teaching letters. In using the chalk and chalkboard, children prepare their hands and fingers for proper formation, in writing. The multi sensory approach allows for active participation rather than simply completing worksheets. Lessons address grip, letter and number recognition, and capital and number formation. The fun and engaging program incorporates all the senses and by playing, singing, and building letters, all children with various learning styles are able to develop the important skills they need to print words, sentences, and later paragraphs.


For more information on the early literacy and handwriting programs at Islington Village, visit and/or

Screen Time & Loose Parts at Islington Village

 Islington Village offers screen free programs; no computers, no tablets, with the exception of staff-use tablets. The staff-use tablets at Islington Village are offered during the program and planning time, in which caregivers research, gather, document and exchange new experiences to incorporate in the classroom. The activities implemented in the classroom are based on the caregivers noted observations of children’s emerging interest and skills.

  With regards to children and screens, research has shown that when young children spend too much time in front of a screen and not enough getting required stimuli from the real world, their development becomes stunted. From social and play experiences children take in nonverbal cues, learn how to read the hundreds of unspoken signs—facial expression, tone of voice, and more—that add colour and depth to real-world relationships. And when spending too much time in front of an iPad instead of chatting and playing with teachers and other children, children’s empathetic abilities—the near-instinctive way we read situations and get a feel for other people—is dulled.

 Therefore, in support and advocation of play, Islington Village has recently implemented a “loose parts” program; enticing and provoking children to use and explore natural, manipulative and real life materials in their play. Loose parts, natural materials and open ended materials are all known as divergent materials. Divergent materials are valuable for active learning. As children carry manipulatives from one centre of the classroom to another, they engage in creative thinking. They can change the material’s identity to match the activity in a play area. Pattern blocks can become pasta when a child in the dramatic play area uses a wooden spoon to stir in a pot on the stove. Pieces from an alphabet puzzle go to the writing area so children can copy the letters, matching them from a book. Bottle caps become a pirate’s treasure when they are hidden outside in the sand bin.

 The key in play, is for children to feel supported and honoured, to explore their own ideas, questions and theories. So, don’t be afraid to join in the play and exploration; when children feel supported, the benefits are vast. Through supported play, a child gains confidence as well as self-esteem, builds relationships, problem-solves, learns conflict resolution, expands language, understands rules and limits, discovers talents, sparks creativity, inspires thinking, defines personality, and sorts out likes and dislikes.


Manimo "A Great Resource"

Islington Village has purchased several Manimo animals!

   These weighted lizards, snakes and frogs are a comforting companion for children at the centre. The benefits of introducing such sensory tools and resources into our program include; helping children pay attention and focus, and calming excess energy.

   The Manimo animals come in various shapes likes lizards, frogs, snakes and even dolphins. Each animal is used in a different way, to meet the different needs of children. They're all colourful, a little shimmering and definitely eye-catching. By soothing and comforting, they help children reach their full potential with emotional regulation. Even a big tight hug is a release of energy, positive or negative, as the Manimo’s have a squishy beaded inside.

    At Islington Village, we use the Manimo's to comfort and calm children both in times of stress and body busyness. The weighted lizard is usually placed around the neck or on thighs. The large paws envelop the child, providing a sense of comfort and security.

   We have found that the Manimo frogs are great to use during circle time, placed on a child's lap; it seems as though they help children focus and be more attentive.

   Slightly lighter than the others, the weighted snake is usually placed around the neck and or on the shoulders. This Manimo twists and wriggles, to adjust to the childs’ busy body.

   Based on the Manimo web page “Early childhood professionals, parents and teachers have long requested such a tool”. At Islington Village, while working alongside The George Hull Centre for Children and Families we have found that children of all ages have to become "centered" to do their best. The weighted animals guide this centering by allowing children to become aware of their bodies, and the space around them. When children become spatially aware of their bodies and people around, they are able to regulate behaviour and emotions, in a positive way.


For more information or to purchase these soothing, cuddly resources visit

The Value of Sensory Play

   Sensory experiences in early learning settings are one of the most vital means of learning for young children. Children explore their environment in very physical, tactile ways by touching/reaching and grabbing for everything.

   It is important that sensory play be open-ended. Children should feel comfortable asking and answering their own questions. Adults, teachers and parents should take note to interact in a nondirective manner, essentially allowing children to take the lead while we take cues from their interests. Open-ended play can be fostered by using key phrases like:

• How could you change/fix that?

• What else could you do?

• What would happen if you...?

• What do you think/feel about...?

• How did you do that?

At Islington Village caregivers take on the role of inviting children to conversation and exploration, by simply saying, “Why don't you tell me about it/Tell me more”.

   Children of all ages tend to enjoy sand play, in a sand box at the park, or on the beach in between their toes; we use lots of sand at Islington Village as we are able to incorporate most developmental areas. For example, large muscle skills develop as children dig, pour, sift, scoop, and clean up spills with brush and dustpan. Hand-eye coordination and small muscle control improve as children learn to manipulate sand accessories. Sand play also promotes social skills. When children work together at the sand table they encounter real problems that require sharing, compromising, and negotiating. A group may engage in dramatic play as they "cook," construct roadways, dig tunnels, or create a zoo for rubber animals. As children take on roles associated with their dramatic play, they learn important social skills such as empathy and perspective taking.

   Sensory play and experiences are also vital to incorporate into curriculum and program to support children that are busier and more physical. For example, children with an integration disorder have problems processing sensations. Typically, when walking across a room, the body senses where to go from side to side, how to balance, how to avoid obstacles, and how to move body parts, all without conscious effort. Children with Sensory Integration Disorder have difficulty detecting, controlling, discriminating, or integrating sensations correctly. This difficulty causes them to process sensations from the environment or from their bodies in an skewed way. Children with sensory integration disorder may be overly sensitive or overly responsive to sensation, hyperactivity, may not feel touch or pain or may touch others too often or too hard, children tend to engage in unsafe behaviors such as climbing too high, taking more risks. Ideal activities for children with sensory integration disorder, depending on their sensations include play doh, squishy floam, bean bag tossing and even heavy weight activities. Heavy weight activities include having children build and explore with big wooden blocks, helping arrange tables and chairs in the classroom, helping with grocery bags at home. 

   Offering and arranging sensory experiences for children, offers them an invaluable opportunity for meeting and growing various skills, in a means that comes naturally. Children have a natural affinity for sensory play and teacher and families can build on that interest by providing children with inviting props, asking appropriate questions, and scheduling ample time for children to work through their play ideas. As with most planned activities and curriculum, the environment is meant to enhance concept development and skill building, but it is important that the play and exploration remain free and child-centered so that children may generate their own play schemes imaginatively.

The Process of Literacy

The majority of the time, literacy is seen as a basic skill that is met, typically when children enter school and ‘learn to read’. This is not the case, as literacy is actually a process that tends to start at birth and continue through the years, as children explore music, language and the written word in their environment. For example, children of infant age begin to express interest in literacy through exploration of nursery rhymes, lullabies, and name recognition. Specifically, at Islington Village, infant groups begin exploring jolly phonics, including music and pictorials of the program.
There is a strong link between positive feelings of self-esteem and emerging literacy. We can enhance feelings of security by providing children with opportunities to become familiar with letters, sounds, then books, reading, and other fun language activities. Therefore in toddlerhood, children expand on the jolly phonics program by connecting hand actions to the letters and music. A clear example, of how language, literacy, music and movement intertwine.
  Children are eager to listen to and read the adventures found in good books. By exposing children to books on a regular basis and telling them stories, we provide fertile ground for idea generation and imagination of young children. The new ideas lend themselves to children creating play time adventures. And in turn, inviting children to act on these new ideas increases the likelihood of future reading success. When observing preschool play, this is when you can really see the imaginative process children go through in dramatic play. They begin to create stories based on their own experiences and knowledge. These stories then include characters, and personas. It's important, at this point, as parents and caregivers to begin to engage with children during their creative process, by asking questions and encouraging new ideas.
  When we encourage children to experiment, and challenge them during play by revisiting and retelling stories, we are laying the groundwork for future success in literacy. Providing a safe, challenging, and open environment encourages the development of positive self-esteem and confidence. In turn, positive self-esteem increases later success in reading.


On Wednesday August 31, Islington Village arranged a Car Seat Clinic for all the families at IVCCC. The Car Seat Clinic was an opportunity for parents and grandparents to have their childrens car seats inspected, and be  assisted with appropriate installation, by a ceritified technician. Jennifer Scott Barnier, who is certified by The Child Passenger Safety Association of Canada, assisted parents with the car seats, giving great suggestions and with utmost safety inspected all car seats.

Example of a chest clip secured much too low.

Example of a chest clip secured much too low.

An adjustment done by Jennifer, tightening the chest clip, at armpit level.

An adjustment done by Jennifer, tightening the chest clip, at armpit level.


Between 3 PM and 6 PM Jennifer was able to see multiple families and left us great information to pass along. Some general car seat tips include:

- read your car seat manual, and seat belt, car seat, and air bag sections in your vehicle manual

- a seat permitted for us in Canada has the National Safety Mark (circle sticker with maple leaf); US seats are not legal

- install with either UAS or seat belt (not both at the same time unless restraint and vehicle manuals state otherwise)

- read your vehicle manual to ensure it is okay to install a car seat in the spot you want it; UAS installs are often not permitted in the centre

- the centre rear is the safer seating position, but a solid outboard installation always trumps a poor centre installation

- NEVER install a rear-facing seat in front of an active air bag

- there is a weight limit when installing with UAS. Find out what it is for your vehicle and child restraint, and once your child reaches the limit, install with the seat belt

- if installingwith a seat belt, it must LOCK in some way: at a retractor, at the latch plate, with a locking clip, or with built-in lock-offs on the car seat

- seat must have 1 inch or less of movement at the belt path

- check that you are using the correct belt path (seperate ones for rear and forward facing)

- you MUST top tether to an APPROVED anchor point when forward facing in a harnessed seat

- never use an expired, recalled, crashed seat, or one with an unknown history. Consult the manufacturer to discuss what constitutes a crash; car seats are one crash items only.

- consult your manual for washing instructions; do not machine wash harness, or use cleaners on it

- tighten the harness enough so you can not pinch a horizontal fold at the collarbone: the pinch test

- chest clip must be at armpit level

- do not over dress your child- use thin warm layers (like fleece) and cover with blankets. Bulky clothes can result in your child being ejected in a crash

- remove projectiles from the vehicle, and tie down or stow anything that you would not throw at child. This includes unrestrained passengers and pets.

- do not use unregulated aftermath products- your car seat was not crash tested with them

- be very wary if buying a used seat- you are trusting the previous owner with your childs life

- get your installation checked by a certified technician

Welcome to Daycare

We can't believe summer is almost over! How the time flies. At Islington Village, we treat upcoming September like the beginning of the school year. Through these next few weeks we bid farewell to our  oldest age group moving onto kindergarten, we greet new children and families and we transition children to their next classrooms.

The transition period can be a stressful one, obviously for children as they encounter new faces and new routines. For parents, it's the finale of a long process in finding great child care. Parents and families have the stress of researching daycares in their area, visiting those daycares, and dealing with waitlists. At Islington Village, we ensured to reduce some stress by never having charged families to be placed on a waitlist. It has luckily, now been mandated as of September 1 2016,  that child care centres are no longer permitted to charge families any fee to be placed on the waitlist.

The beginning stages are usually the toughest, as both parents and child prepare for this transition, into daycare. At Islington Village we offer an opportunity for a meet and greet about a week before the child actually begins their full day in the program. These meet and greets typically last about 20 minutes, and are a great occasion for parents to meet caregivers, and have all of their questions and concerns answered. While the caregivers and families converse the children are able to engage and get familiar with the materials, toys as well as the other children in the group.

Then the transition begins, with the first day of daycare. The ways we ease the stress of transitioning children and families in child care, truly vary by family. Some strategies and approaches work for one particular child while for another child it could have the opposite affect. At Islington Village, caregivers greet each child by name, and go with them to find an interesting, engaging activity. As the child may be new to the centre, or to a classroom caregivers make suggestions if the child is unfamiliar with the materials and toys. If this child happens to have a special friend, we try to bring the two of them together in the book or block or puzzle corner so they can use their relationship to ease more comfortably into the day. 

Children are welcome to bring in familiar objects from home,  such as a toy or a picture of mom and dad, to help with the transition. Each classroom in Islington Village has a wonderfully created family tree. The child and caregiver can become engaged and have them stick the child's family photo onto the tree together, symbolically joining the classroom.

It's important to support the children through their stressful time. Some children need more transition time than others. Although the “short and sweet” rule works best for most children, caregivers are flexible and understanding in realizing some parents will have to stay longer than others. However, the best goodbyes are short and upbeat. Parents can lead the child to an activity, engage the child, then let the child know she’s leaving. It is not usually recommended that a parent slips away without saying goodbye. It's understandable that we want to limit the reaction and extended tears when the child realizes that the parent is about to leave for real. However, it's important to be honest with the children. If the parent sneaks out, the child ends up spending time looking for the parent. We encourage parents to say goodbye firmly and definitively – and to reassure the child they’ll be back. 
A little tip, tell your child that you will be back at a certain time, for example,  “See you after circle time”.  This way, caregivers can take your cues, and throughout the day remind the child when parents will arrive, just as promised; a  great way to initiate a bond between caregiver and child as well.
At the end of the day, that's all that we really want, is  safe, secure, meaningful relationships between parents and caregivers, and especially caregivers and children.