November 2021
Activities aligned with the Pennsylvania Early Learning Standards to help your preschooler prepare for Kindergarten. 
Let's Play and Learn
Did you know that when preschoolers play, they learn? It's true! Use these activities to encourage your preschooler to play. Then visit the library to find a book about the activity.

We're learning Language and Literacy Skills 
Do it! 
Used stuffed animals, action figures or dolls to retell a story you've read with your preschooler. Use a sock to make a puppet for storytelling. Provide a variety of materials of various textures and patterns for your preschooler to decorate and accessorize the puppet. Allow them to hold handle and manipulate the puppet. Puppets can also be used to help preschoolers overcome a fear or explore an obstacle by creating a story just for them.  
Read it! 
The Relatives Came by Cynthia Rylant. Neighborhood Mother Goose by Nina Crews.

We're learning Mathematical Thinking and Expression
Do it! 
Use objects to make patterns with your preschooler. Lay out spoon, spoon, cup and ask your child to make the same pattern. Try black sock, white socks, black sock and see if your preschooler can tell you what's next. Clap, tap or move your bodies in a repeated motion. Include opportunities to touch and feel textures and shapes of objects as a means of sorting. When your preschooler is hesitant to participate, bring in things of interest to get them engaged. Use familiar objects like favorite toy animals, cars or trains. Introduce descriptive written and signed words including the colors and sizes of the objects.
Read it! 
Stripes of All Types by Susan Stockdale. Elmer by David McKee.

We're learning Science Thinking and Technology 
Do it! 
Play Guess the Taste game. On a plate, put different foods (like a berry, orange, cheese and pretzel). Have your preschooler close their eyes, then give them a taste. See if they can guess which it is! If your preschooler is hesitant to taste the items, have them smell each item. Use items with strong scents. Ask them to identify the scent. If an open ended question is too difficult, simplify by giving a choice, "Is this a berry or an orange?" Allow your preschooler to feel the food. Use descriptive words and signs like stickysmooth and hard to describe each item. Allow them to help you make something using these foods. When children help prepare food they are more likely to try something new! 
Read it! 
Betty Bunny Loves Chocolate Cake by Michael Kaplan. Bread and Jam for Frances  by Russell Hoban.

We're learning Social Emotional Development
Do it! 
Look through magazines to find people's faces. Talk about the expressions and emotions showing on their faces. How many different expressions can you and your preschooler find? Allow your preschooler to feel your face as you make each expression. Describe in details what you see to enhance the activity for children with limited vision. Use the signs, words and photos of emotions to reinforce language development.
Read it! 
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst and Ray Cruz. The Pout-Pout Fish (A Pout-Pout Fish Adventure) by Deborah Diesen and Dan Hanna.
Get Help with Winter Heating Costs
Pennsylvanians who meet income guidelines can now apply for help with winter heating costs. The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) is now accepting applications online or via a paper application.

LIHEAP helps families who meet income guidelines pay their heating bills in the form of a cash grant. Households in immediate danger of being without heat can also qualify for crisis grants. The cash grant is a one-time payment sent directly to the utility company/fuel provider to be credited on your bill. These grants range from $200 to $1,000 based on household size, income, and fuel type.

Remember: This is a grant and does not have to be repaid.
Little Neighbors Building a Better World Together
The PSEG Foundation and Sesame Workshop have partnered to create bilingual (English and Spanish), multiple media programs that help families prepare for, and respond to, emergencies and provide tools so that children can build the skills they need to become resilient.

With Let’s Get Ready, families learn to plan and prepare together for emergencies through simple strategies and tips that can be incorporated into everyday routines.

Here for Each Other provides tips, ideas, and activities that teach families effective and comforting ways to respond when an emergency occurs.

Brave, Strong Resilient helps children build the self-confidence, problem-solving skills, and emotional tools they need to cope with adversity.

The latest joint effort, Little Neighbors: Building a Better World Together, helps children learn the many ways to be a good neighbor and what it means to be a member of a community.
The Benefits of Family Mealtimes
Starting a simple habit with your young child, like regularly eating meals together, can have a lifelong impact.

A day beginning with breakfast and ending with dinner as a family is more than a benefit of sharing plates of food. It’s an opportunity to bond as a family, teach children table manners, share stories and experiences, and sample and learn about traditions, cultures and foods. But there are even greater benefits of family mealtimes. Read more!
Hotline to Assist Pandemic EBT (P-EBT) Recipients 
The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services has launched a live hotline to assist families with the Pandemic Electronic Benefits Transfer (P-EBT) program. Pennsylvanians who have not received their child’s P-EBT benefits or have an issue with P-EBT can dial 484-363-2137 Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

P-EBT is designed to help eligible families cover the cost of breakfasts and lunches their children would have been eligible to receive for free or at reduced price through the National School Lunch Program in child care or school settings that closed temporarily or permanently due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Families can use their P-EBT benefits to purchase almost any food item in a typical grocery store, and the program follows the same rules as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
Reading Stories Aloud to Support the Transition to Kindergarten
Reading books about kindergarten to children is a wonderful way to help them prepare for the big transition from preschool, PA Pre-K Counts, or Head Start to elementary school. These special read-alouds were recorded with love by staff from the Office of Head Start (OHS). 

Access the Videos On-Demand:
  • The Kissing Hand (Un Beso En Mi Mano) by Audrey Penn
  • Read in English by Dr. Deborah Bergeron, director, OHS
  • Read in Spanish by Jennifer Amaya, culturally linguistic responsive practices content lead, OHS
  • First Day Jitters (¡Qué nervios! El primer día de escuela) by Julie Danneberg
  • Read in English by Amanda Bryans, education and research to practice supervisor, OHS
  • Read in Spanish by Dayana Garcia, disability and inclusion specialist, OHS
IECMHC Virtual Office Hours: Help for Families, Child Care Professionals
Are you looking for support with helping a child who is struggling with behavior, attachment, peer relationships or emotion regulation? Need help for teachers or families with self-care, stress, and coping, but not sure what to do next? The Pennsylvania Key Infant-Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation (IECMHC) Virtual Office Hours are here to help.

IECMH Consultants are available by appointment to provide telephone or video conference consultation. IECMHC Virtual Office Hours is a short-term, collaborative, problem-solving conversation to help you find next steps for:
  • Child Social-Emotional Concerns
  • Child Behavioral or Developmental Concerns
  • Emotional Well-being of Teachers and Caregivers
  • Partnering with Families

Services are available at no cost to Pennsylvania families, child care professionals and specialists supporting Keystone STARS child care programs. IECMH Consultation helps adults strengthen their relationships with young children and build capacity to respond to children’s social-emotional needs. IECMHC can help reduce caregiver stress, as well as increase caregivers’ reflective practice skills. Learn how IECMHC Virtual Office Hours can help.
6 Tips to Help Your Preschooler Learn to Read
Reading skills begin to develop before your preschooler picks up a book! Hearing language is an important part of developing the skills necessary to learn to read. 

Free Meals Finder
Families who could use help in feeding their children can enter their address to find free, healthy meals being served by organizations in their community on the No Kid Hungry website. The website does not use information for any other purpose than to locate food assistance.

Families can also find these resources by texting the word FOOD to 877-877. Information is available in English and Spanish.
How to Talk to Friends & Family About COVID-19 Vaccines
COVID-19 vaccines are rolling out in Pennsylvania, bringing us new hope and a path back to our lives. Every Pennsylvanian who chooses to get vaccinated brings us a step closer to moving past the COVID-19 pandemic. Together, we can defeat the virus.

Everyone who chooses to get vaccinated does it for a reason—to protect their family, to protect their children, to be less anxious, to visit their parents, or to get back to activities like seeing friends, resuming work, or returning to school. 

Many of us have friends and family who are hesitant to get the vaccine. The Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH) has some ideas for how to talk to loved ones about their concerns in a safe and supportive way

This resource from PA DOH has information about vaccine safety. You can also find out when and how to get a COVID-19 vaccine.
Health and Dental Coverage Options for Families
Pennsylvania families have different options for health and dental coverage. Find the best option for your family.

The 2022 Open Enrollment Period for Pennie is happening now! Pennie is PA’s official health & dental insurance marketplace and the only link to financial assistance to help reduce the cost of coverage and care. Pennie’s Open Enrollment Period for 2022 Coverage Runs from Nov. 1, 2021, to Jan. 15, 2022. Visit to shop and compare health coverage plans. Pennie’s plan comparison tool allows you to answer questions about your health status, preferred providers, and even prescription drug needs. The tool will then display coverage options for you to see your total costs for care, including premium, deductible, and total out-of-pocket costs. 

The Children's Health Insurance Program — or CHIP — is Pennsylvania's program to provide health coverage to uninsured children and teens who are not eligible for or enrolled in Medical Assistance. For most families, it's free. Families with incomes above the free CHIP limits will pay low monthly premiums and co-pays for some services.  
Preschooler Safety While in Vehicles
Did you know your preschooler should still be using a car or booster seat whenever traveling in a vehicle?
The website, sponsored by the PA Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, you can find all types of safety information to keep your preschooler safe, including car seat loan programs, car seat fitting station locations and access to a child car seat technician to ensure the correct installation of a car or booster seat in a vehicle.
7 Ways to Save Your Sanity While Traveling With Preschoolers
Traveling with a preschooler can be challenging, especially if you're unprepared. Try these tips to keep your preschooler occupied and save your sanity this upcoming holiday season! 

  1. Plan ahead. If your trip is delayed due to weather, traffic or cancellations, be prepared with enough drinks and snacks.
  2. Start singing! Singing with your child will help pass the miles. Your library has music to borrow to help keep your child entertained.
  3. Pack smart. Add a small pad of paper and crayons or colored pencils to a purse or backpack for drawing pictures, creating origami (fold into the shape of a square!), or playing a game (like tic-tac-toe).
  4. Be selective. Set aside specific toys and books for use only while traveling.
  5. Keep it real. Have reasonable expectations of yourself and your child. Take breaks when needed.
  6. Stay well hydrated and well fed. Travel can be dehydrating, and empty tummies are grumpy tummies, so take travel-friendly snacks like dry cereal and fruit. Pack water or juice boxes.
  7. Fly friendly. Traveling by plane? The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has information for traveling with children.
Helping Your Family Prepare for Emergencies with Ready Wrigley
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has created Ready Wrigley to provide parents, guardians, teachers, and young children with tips, activities, and a story to help the whole family prepare for emergencies. Together with your child, join Wrigley as she helps her family prepare for emergencies by staying informed, packing emergency kits, and making a family communication plan.

The activity book is designed to provide an interactive tool to further your child's education and promote disaster preparedness and safe clean-up in your community. You can share this book with your schools and early learning programs, communities, and families to help children learn the importance of being prepared. It is available in English and Spanish.
Did you get this from a friend?  Sign up to get next month's enews to your email!
The 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