May 2021
Fun activities, aligned with the Pennsylvania Early Learning Standards, to help prepare children for school success!
We're Learning in the Grocery Store!
Even though you may not be able to visit the grocery store with your young child at this time, the activities below have been adapted to do at home with grocery items in your pantry, refrigerator or cabinet.

Select different food items as you prepare a meal and describe to your baby what they are seeing. Use different words to describe the colors, shapes, smells and noises they may experience. Tell them what you plan to do with the items. Use facial expressions to enhance your experiences. Read more.

With items in your pantry or cabinet, have your toddler help you decide which item is largest, smallest, heaviest, etc. For example, compare the size of a lemon and a grapefruit, or a can of soup and a can of tuna, and help them decide which item is larger or smaller. Read more.

Talk about grocery items that were purchased and are now at home. Help your preschooler describe each item--hard, soft, rough, smooth, red, green, etc. How many different words can they use to describe the item? Create a shopping page on a tablet with pictures and descriptive words. Read more.

Have your kindergartner create a grocery list. Draw or cut out from a magazine different types of food. Talk about where different foods come from--do they grow in the ground or on trees--and if they are fruits, vegetables, meats, etc. Which item is their favorite to eat? Read more.
11 Books About the Grocery Store
Grandpa's Corner Store  by DyAnne DiSalvo-Ryan
Out and About at the Supermarket  by Kitty Shea
Put It On the List  by Kristen Darbyshire
A Visit to the Supermarket  by Blake A. Hoena
Our Corner Grocery Store  by Joanne Schwartz and Laura Beingessner
A Busy Day at Mr. Kang's Grocery Store  by Alice K. Flanagan
To Market, To Market  by Anne Miranda
Shopping with Dad  by Matt Harvey and Miriam Latimer
What's in Grandma's Grocery Bag?  by Hui-Mei Pan
Just Shopping with Mom  by Mercer Mayer
Maisy Goes Shopping  by Lucy Cousins

What can you do with the monthly book lists?
Each month  Learning is Everywhere  provides a list of books that compliment the activities. What can you do with this list?
  • Make a short video of your child reading or giving a book review of one of the books on the list. What was their favorite part of the book? Share the video with family and friends. Tag PA's Promise for Children on FacebookTwitter or Instagram!
  • Share the list with your friends who have children. You can forward this email to them or they can sign up to get the email.
  • If you are a teacher, print this list and give it to the families of your students, or post this list where families can see it. They'll know which books are being read in your classroom.
  • If you are an early learning community partner, once it's safe to do so, host a special reading event for families using the monthly book lists. Each month has a different focus--find them at PA's Promise for Children. Include an activity from the monthly list to engage families.
  • Print the list and take it to your local library once it's safe to do so. Your librarian can help you find the books on the list. Then read the books with your child. Help your child circle or cross out the books on the list as you read them.

How do you use this book list? Share on PA's Promise for Children, the Facebook pageor send it to Mary at
The Importance of Independent Play
Sasha, 18 months old, stacks blocks on top of each other, then knocks them down, only to build them again.

Rachel, two and half years old, takes books off the shelf, looking through pages and sharing the story with her stuffed animals.

Jamie, four years old, hooks play trains together and runs them along imaginary paths.

What do all of these have in common? They’re all examples of independent play!

Research has shown the importance of play. Play can enhance brain structure and function and promote executive function (the process of learning). While interaction with adults and other children during play builds important cognitive, language, and self-regulation skills, independent play also has benefits. When a child plays alone, it can foster imagination and creative play, build persistence and problem-solving skills, and teach patience and resilience. Find out how you can help your child develop independent play skills.
Opportunities for Families
Pennsylvania's Community Inclusion for All shares a highlight of upcoming virtual learning events and opportunities for families. Check out these resources!

In this interactive training institute, participants will learn how to apply lessons learned from ground-breaking research designed to change the way we talk about family engagement and its importance. These framing strategies will help shift the conversation from family engagement being “nice to have” to being a “must have.” This Training Institute includes three sessions. Registrants must commit to attending all three sessions.
Session 1: Tuesday, May 11, 2021, 10:00 - 11:30 am ET
Session 2: Tuesday, May 18, 2021, 3:00 - 4:30 pm ET
Session 3: Tuesday, May 25, 2021, 10:00 - 11:30 am ET

May 21 Deadline: Family Scholarships are Available for the DEC Conference. The Division for Early Childhood will be offering a limited number of Family Scholarships in the amount of $500 to support families to attend the conference to take place Sept. 21-25 in New Orleans. These scholarships can be used to pay for costs related to travel and hotel accommodations. Families, please consider applying! We would love to hear your voice at the conference. Apply for a Family Scholarship here. Please submit an application for the scholarship by May 21, 2021. Awardees will be notified by June 11, 2021.

August 2-5: 2021 National Autism Conference, offered as a virtual opportunity as part of the efforts to maintain public health and safety in the face of the coronavirus outbreak. Anyone may watch free of charge.
Enroll Now for PA Pre-K Counts

Quality pre-kindergarten can give your child a strong start in school and in life. Pennsylvania Pre-K Counts provides free half-day or full-day pre-kindergarten for at-risk children throughout Pennsylvania.

Each program offering PA Pre-K Counts classrooms will have their own guidelines, but PA Pre-K Counts is designed for children who:

  • are between age 3 and younger than the entry age for kindergarten;
  • live in a family earning up to 300% of poverty; and
  • may also have language (English is not your first language), a disability or developmental delay, or other issues that make them at risk for failing in school.

If your child falls into these categories, you may be eligible to apply.

There are PA Pre-K Counts classrooms in most of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties. To find PA Pre-K Counts programs near you, contact your local Early Learning Resource Center (ELRC) and they can help you locate your local PA Pre-K Counts program. Find your ELRC at
You're Invited to Join A Free Treasury Webinar

The PA Treasury is offering free webinars for parents, employees, grandparents, etc. on its savings programs. The next one is upcoming on May 18 and Treasury has shared information to make sure that all families and those who work in the child care and education fields can also attend. Please share the information below on Treasury’s upcoming May 18 webinar!

Keystone Scholars provides Pennsylvania babies with a $100 investment that can help jump start families` savings for future higher education.

The Bright Future Booster provides an additional one-time $50 deposit to Keystone Scholars babies whose parent(s) are WIC participants and who give birth between January 1 and June 30, 2021.

The PA Savings Pledge offers Pennsylvania residents incentives to save for a child aged 0-18. Take the pledge to save and you`ll be entered in monthly drawings with more than $5,000 in prizes up for grabs.

The PA 529 College and Career Savings Program helps thousands of Pennsylvania families save for a child`s future education while providing great tax benefits. PA 529 plans may be used at most colleges and universities, many technical, career and vocational schools and even for K-12 tuition.

Click here to register to join a free Treasury webinar on Tuesday, May 18, 2021, 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM to learn about how to participate and benefit from these programs.
Love Your Teacher? Share your story!

Help celebrate Teacher Appreciation Week, May 3-7, 2021!
Teachers play an important role in shaping the lives of Pennsylvania's youngest learners. They work with families, children and partners to ensure that each child has opportunities to learn and grow.
Are you a parent or family member whose child loves their teacher? Share:
  • Your child's favorite teacher's name and early learning program or school
  • Why he or she is your child's favorite teacher-why is this teacher special?
  • A picture of your child and their favorite teacher!

Email your story to Mary at Send your story to be highlighted on PA's Promise for Children website and Facebook page during Teacher Appreciation Week! Although Teacher's Appreciation Week runs May 3-7, we will continue to publish stories as they're received.
Is Your Child Registered for Kindergarten?
It's not too late to register your child for Kindergarten! Registering your child now means that you, your child and your child's school will be ready when Kindergarten begins.

National Children's Mental Health Awareness Day
Often when we think of children's health, we think of things related to physical health, such as colds and flu, asthma, or broken bones. But children are much more than their physical bodies, and children's health encompasses more than physical health. 

The well-being of the whole child includes a healthy mental and emotional state as well. Just as children suffer from physical illnesses and injuries, they can also suffer from emotional and mental disorders. Your child's health can also affect how well she learns!

National Children's Mental Health Awareness Day on May 7, 2021 is a day for everyone to learn about and promote positive youth development, resilience, recovery, and the transformation of mental health services delivery for children and youth their families.

Click here to learn why positive mental health is essential to a child's healthy development from birth. There's also information on how a parent's mental health can affect their baby.

Pennsylvania CHIP offers care for children by providing benefits to cover behavioral health care. Visit for more information on the mental health services covered by PA CHIP and how to apply.
The  Our Kids....To Infinity & Beyond! on Facebook is for family members who have, and professionals who work with children who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing. The focus is on advocacy, self-advocacy, self-determination. This is a safe place to ask questions, get advice, or share stories!

Join more than 1,000 families connecting and engaging through the Our Kids....To Infinity & Beyond! Facebook Group
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Do you have a preschooler?
Did your child start preschool?  Sign up for the FREE monthly Kindergarten, Here I Come eNews!  Each month get activities, tips and resources you can use to help your child prepare for and transition into their Kindergarten year.
The PA Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) provides families access to high quality services to prepare children for school and life success. 
Find more information about Quality Early Learning in Pennsylvania
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