Getting a toddler or preschooler ready to go outside can be quite the hassle. This is even more the case when one or two teachers must prepare a whole class of children to go outside.

Here’s a simple trick your child can learn to enable them to independently put their coat on.

How young is too young? I learned this trick from a preschooler whose parents taught him to put on his coat this way. Then, when my daughter was one and a half years old and desiring independence, I tried teaching her. Within a few days she was happily putting on her coat all by herself (though I still had to do the zipper).



The Coat Flip Trick


  1. Place the unzipped coat on the floor or a low ottoman with the hood towards your child.
  2. Direct your child to put their arms into the sleeves of the coat.
  3. Help your child lift their arms straight in the air, flipping their coat over their head.
  4. Assist your child with doing up the coat zipper or buttons as needed.


There you have it. A simple little trick to make your day go so much smoother.


Add A Little – 1 Year Old Curriculum – Unit 1

Open and Shut

Vocabulary: Open, Shut, Hiding, Lid

Disclaimer: All activities require adult supervision and discretion. Read more…

Want to learn more about Add A Little Curriculum? Check out the Parent / Teacher Guide

Let’s Wiggle

Big Box Hide and Seek


  • One or two of your child’s favourite toys
  • One cardboard box big enough for your child’s favourite toy to fit in
  • Or (even better) one cardboard box big enough for your child to hide in


  • Consider making the box easier for your child to open and close. To do this, remove two of the flaps from the opening leaving only the largest two flaps.
  • Place your child’s favourite toy in the box.

Time to Play:

  • Open the box just enough for your child to see that their toy is hiding inside, then encourage them to open it and retrieve their toy.
  • Laugh with your child while making the toy say, “Boo!”
  • Place another toy in the box for your child to find.


  • If you have a big box, encourage your child to crawl into the box and pop out saying, “Boo!”

Let’s Explore

Lids and Containers


  • Various non-breakable containers and lids. Consider recyclable items such as:
    • Yogurt container with lid
    • Cream cheese container with lid
    • Grated parmesan cheese container with lid
    • Box with lid
    • Cookie tin with lid
  • Tips:
    • The lids don’t have to be the originals. Rather look for something that is easy to place on top of the container without becoming stuck.
    • Beware of lids that are small enough to be choking hazards.


  • Place various containers with matching lids on the ground.

Time to Play:

  • Sit down with your child and show them which lids go with which containers.
  • Encourage them to try.

Let’s Sing

Open and Shut Them

Let’s Read

Where’s Spot

By: Eric Hill

Let’s Sing a

Christian Song

He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands

Words and Actions for He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands


Add A Little – 1 Year Old Curriculum – Intro

Parent / Teacher Guide



Why name a curriculum “Add A Little”? Because that’s exactly what this curriculum is designed to do – add a little enhancement to your child’s development by providing ideas and activities for you to do with them. This light curriculum was developed with the busy parent or caretaker in mind. It is divided into monthly units of repeatable activities.


Activities For 1 Year Olds

Every 1 year old develops at a different pace. The Add A Little 1 Year Old Curriculum is designed to be easily adapted to your toddler’s developmental level and interests. Units 1-5 target children aged 12-18 months while units 6-10 focus more on activities of interest to children aged 18-23 months. Units 11-12 are optional Christmas and Easter themed units designed to hold appeal for ages 12-23 months.

Check out the Tips for Success below.



To keep things easier for you, most of the materials used in the Add A Little 1 Year Old Curriculum are things you likely already have or can access inexpensively. Some activities call for recyclables. If you don’t already, I recommend washing and collecting various recyclable items since they can make excellent toys. More specifically, recyclable materials you will need this year include:

  • Paper towel tube (or a couple of toilet paper tubes)
  • One aluminum pie tin or similar (holes in it are fine)
  • Several plastic containers with lids from things such as yogurt, margarine, grated parmesan cheese, or cream cheese
    • (Watch out for lids that are too small, thus creating a choking hazard.)
  • Cardboard boxes, including one big one
  • One clean egg carton


Each Unit Includes:


Each month, all activities will be loosely based around an age-appropriate theme.



Try to find opportunities to incorporate the suggested vocabulary words throughout the month so that your child can learn to recognize them.


Let’s Wiggle

These activities involve full-body movements. Your child will strengthen their big muscles (gross motor muscles) and improve their coordination. Did you know that exercise and big movements are important for brain development too?


Let’s Explore

Here you will provide your child with an opportunity to investigate and manipulate intriguing materials. These activities often involve hand-eye coordination and smaller muscle strengthening (fine motor muscles).


Let’s Sing

Music is an important part of brain development and it’s fun! Each unit will include one suggested simple song. Sing this song often throughout the month so your child can learn it.

Want more songs or don’t like one of the suggested songs? Check out this list of songs including classics and originals:


Let’s Read

Being read to is an important pre-reading experience. Books also help expand your child’s vocabulary and general knowledge base. If you don’t have the book I recommend, you could check with your library or buy it. If you don’t want to buy the book, no problem. Try searching for something similar at your local library.

Here are some tips for finding good books.

Also, check out my board of recommended books for toddlers:


Let’s Sing A Christian Song

Each unit includes a bonus Christian song suggestion for those who are interested. Not your thing? That’s fine. Feel free to skip over this part. Want more Christian songs? Visit:


Tips For Success When Using Add A Little Curriculum

How do I get my child to participate in the activities?

  • Model Then Encourage

    • One year olds love to copy. If your child doesn’t immediately engage in an activity, sit down and do it yourself for a few minutes.
    • Once you’ve set an example of how to participate, encourage your child to join you. Try handing them one of the pieces. Cheer for them when they do join in.
    • If they still don’t want to join in, don’t sweat it. Put the activity aside and assess what their reason for not engaging might be (tired, hungry, feeling too wiggly, etc.). Try the activity again in a few days.
  • Adapt

    • Every child is different. That is perhaps never more true than when considering 1 year olds. Some one year olds can walk, others can’t yet. Some can talk, others just aren’t there yet. Some put everything in their mouth, others rarely put anything in their mouth. You know your circumstance and your child’s abilities and interests. Take a moment to consider the suggested activity, then adapt it to your own situation.
  • Repeat

    • 1 year olds thrive on repeated activities with slight tweaks to give them just a little more to explore each time. While the Add A Little curriculum only provides two activities in each unit, these activities could be repeated several times throughout the month, and during the following months as well.
  • Less Is More

    • Did you know that young children play better with less toys at a time? Try putting away most of their toys before attempting to engage them in a new activity. Putting most of their toys away also allows you to do toy rotation. If you haven’t tried toy rotation, read this article . You’ll be amazed at the difference it makes to your child’s play.



All activities require adult supervision and discretion.

Every aspect of the Add A Little Curriculum is suggested with the expectation that it will be done under adult supervision. Some activities include potential hazards. You and your child(ren) participate at your own discretion.

Every child, family, setting, and circumstance is different. Recommended tips and/or activities in this curriculum may work well for some children but not for others. Adult discretion is required. In some cases, you will need to adapt the curriculum to fit you and your child(ren)’s specific needs.



Every month, one new unit is released. Here is a list of units that have already been released:

Unit 1 – Open and Shut

Unit 2 – Mountains

Unit 3 – Down

Unit 4 – The Simple Things

Unit 5 – My Body

Unit 6 – My Fingers

Unit C – Christmas

 More to come…

Want More? 

Do you want to receive notification of each new unit of the Add A Little 1 Year Old Curriculum when it is released? Join S. J. Little’s preschool email list today.



Helpful Links

Smoother Transitions:

Choosing Excellent Books

Big List of Simple Preschool Songs

Toy Rotation

Preschool, Playschool; Daycare, Day Home, What’s the Difference? 



“Read books to your children.” We hear it over and over again. Indeed, it is true that reading good books to your children gives them a notable advantage in learning to read as well as other developmental benefits.

“How do I know which books are excellent books?”

There are countless children’s picture books to choose from. While just about any book would provide some benefit, some books provide far more benefit than others. Keep reading to learn some elements to consider when looking for excellent books for your preschooler.

Age-Appropriate Books?

  • Story Reading Phases
    • As children grow they go through different phases of interest in and attention span for books. Every child will develop at a different rate and may go through different phases.
    • Curious what this looks like? Here’s an example.
      • A 0-2 month old may show absolutely zero interest in books.
      • A 3-9 month old may enjoy cuddling with you while you read short rhyming picture books. They may also be fascinated by books with photos of real people.
      • A 10-18 month old may not have the patience to sit for a whole story. Rather than reading the book, they may enjoy watching you point to pictures in the book while naming the picture or its sound. (“This is a cow. Cows say ‘Moo.'”)
      • A 19-24 month old may be ready to sit with you while you read short stories. They may ask you to read a favourite book again and again. They most likely enjoy interactive books, such as lift-the-flap books.
      • A 2-3 year old is likely ready to start enjoying books with more storyline. Interactive books are likely a big hit with this age group.
      • A 4-6 year old typically is ready for somewhat longer stories. They will likely interrupt the story many times to ask questions like, “why?”.
  • Observe
    • How do you know what story reading phase your child is in? The best clue is observation. If the book you are using, and the way you are reading it to your child is right for their phase, they will be engaged and interested.
    • Note that different times of day and/or different settings will greatly affect which sort of book is right for your child. Mid-morning your child may not have any interest in books, but just before bed snuggling close while you read a story might be their favorite thing.
  • Large Group or One-on-One?
    • Are you reading the book to a large class full of children, or to one child who is snuggled up beside you? My time as a preschool teacher has taught me that the bigger the group and the more distracting the setting, the shorter and/or more engaging the book needs to be.

Writing Style

Different picture books work better for different reading phases depending on their style. Here are some elements of writing style to consider.

  • How Many Words – generally, the younger the child, the smaller the word count needs to be.
  • Rhyme vs. Prose – if rhyme is well done, children will be more engaged.
  • Repetition and Rhythm – strategic repetition and rhythm draw a child in, making the book feel interactive. In Brown Bear Brown Bear, Bill Martin Jr makes excellent use of repetition and rhythm.
  • Sing Along – some sing along books are fantastic, others are way too long for most preschoolers. Watch your child’s cues in case you need to stop halfway through.
  • Story Arc – As children reach their 3rd birthday, they tend to begin preferring books with a story arc – a beginning, middle, climax, and conclusion. At first, these story arcs can be very simple, such as Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar. As the child’s attention span grows, they will become interested in more and more complex story arcs.
  • Illustration Style – some illustration styles mesmerize children, others simply do not. How can you tell which illustration styles your child enjoys? Observe their reactions. Remember, though, that their interest in different illustration styles can shift and change as they pass through different reading phases.
  • Sense of Humor – A book that makes your child laugh will keep them more engaged. Like with everything else, what a child finds funny will shift and morph as they grow.

Choose How to Read

Some books can easily be adapted to different reading phases depending on how you read it.

  • Read Text, Abbreviate the Story, Discuss Pictures, or Ask Questions
    • You pick up a book to read to your child, but right away you realize it has far too many words for your child’s current reading phase. No problem. Try simplifying the story into your own words, or merely enjoy looking at the pictures with your child.
    • Or perhaps you have a 4 year old, and the book you want to read is far too simple. Ask questions to make it a fun interactive book for your child.
      • “Oh, look, there’s a horse and a baby horse. Do you know what a baby horse is called?”
      • “I see an ice cream cone. Let’s count how many scoops of ice cream are on it. What’s your favourite type of ice cream?”
  • Read It Again or Only Once
    • Generally speaking, the younger the child, the more times you can repeat the same book before they get bored.
    • When reading to a group of children aged 2 years old and up, I typically encourage reading a new book almost every time. This will help keep even the more advanced children interested and engaged. When children are bored because they have heard the story before, they are far more likely to cause mischief.



Aside from the educational value of reading books to your child, the books you read will begin to shape how your child thinks and responds to other people and the world around them. I encourage you to be intentional to find books that teach your child well.

  • Role Models
    • Preschool children absorb what they see and hear. The characters in books become role models for them to mimic. Watch carefully that the characters in the books you choose are setting good examples for your child.
    • I had a 4 year old in one of my classes who used an inappropriate word. When another child declared that he shouldn’t use that word, the 4 year old shrugged, saying, “What? It’s what they say in the movies.”
  • Positive vs. Negative Tone
    • Similarly, some books have a positive optimistic tone while others include much whining and negative mindsets. Even as an adult, I find that when I read a book in which there is a lot of complaining, I catch myself complaining more. If this is the case with me, how much more so will this happen with our preschoolers?
  • Check for Subtle Messages
    • These days, many newer books include subtle messages encouraging and glorifying things such as activism, extreme environmentalism, and other current philosophies or morals.
    • You as the parent or caregiver get to choose whether you want these worldviews instilled in your child or not.
  • Educational
    • Many books have excellent educational elements so that while you are reading a fun book to your child, you are also teaching them about colours, or how plants grow, etc.


  • Now that you know how to choose excellent books for your child, where are you going to look for those books? I highly recommend checking to see if there is a local library you can use. Not only will this save you the cost of buying each book, but it will also give you a nearly endless supply of new books to choose from.
  • Visiting your library in person allows you to skim through the books before bringing them home. Alternatively, many libraries allow you to search online and place a hold on books that interest you. This is especially helpful if you are looking for books relating to a specific theme.

Book Recommendations

Looking for some excellent book ideas? Check out my favourites on Pinterest:

Books for Preschoolers and Toddlers

Preschool / Toddler Books – S. J. Little’s Favourite

What are some of your absolute favourite excellent picture books for children? Let us know in the comments below.


Handwashing is a skill young children do not automatically know. They must be taught.

How can you teach your preschooler to wash their hands?

  • Show them how to wash their hands by being a good model.
  • Explain to them why we wash our hands. (To remove dirt and germs.)
  • Gently remind them how to wash their hands. (You’ll have to do this many times!)
  • Teach them this song so they can sing while washing their hands.

The song below is designed to remind children to wash all areas of their hands, not just the front. The length it takes to sing the song at a regular pace is longer than the recommended 20 second minimum for handwashing.

*Note that the following song is an original song by S. J. Little. Please be sure to reference her when sharing the song in writing.

Handwashing Song

Words by: S. J. Little

Tune: Open and Shut Them



Front and back and

Front and back and

In between your fingers.

Finger tips, and thumbs, and nails.

Now do it once again.


Front and back and

Front and back and

In between your fingers.

Finger tips, and thumbs, and nails.

Now rinse the bubbles off.

What is your favourite way to teach your preschooler how to wash their hands?