ABC’s of Back to School 5 Fun Tips for Getting Kids (and Parents!) Emotionally Ready for School

Are your ready?

Welcome to EI’s ABC’s of Back to School, a blog series designed to help little ones – and their parents! – make the most of back to school time!

Our A— “Are You Ready?”— is all about emotional readiness. Whether it’s your little one’s very first day of school or your older kids are transitioning from lazy summer days back to structured school days, change can be difficult, and can sometimes cause anxiety in children.

In the hustle and bustle of back to school shopping, planning for packed lunches (check out our great ideas on Pinterest!), and sorting of school supplies, preparing emotionally for school sometimes gets lost, but it’s a crucial part of back-to-school prep. Try our five fun tips for getting your kids ready emotionally for school—guaranteed to gear everyone up for a great first day.

  1. Get Some Shut Eye!Don’t underestimate the importance that being well-rested plays in emotional readiness. Starting two weeks before the first day of school, gradually roll back your child’s bedtime, remembering that most young children need between 10 and 12 hours of sleep nightly. As you roll back bedtime, also roll back the time you’re waking your kids in the morning until you reach your ideal school day wake up time. Turning off electronics several hours before bedtime and offering calming activities like arts and crafts – try some squishy, squashy, shaping fun with Playfoam® – makes the transition to bedtime easier.


  1. Talk It Over! Starting a few weeks before school begins, talk up the fun things your child will be doing at school. From arts & crafts to story time, recess to new friends, there’s a lot to love about school! Try acting out a typical school day with your child – use one of our playful Puppet-on-a-Stick puppets as the teacher and you’re sure to get some smiles. For some kids, having information prior to a new event helps them process; for others, it stresses them out. Consider the amount of information your child is comfortable with and adjust the conversation accordingly. Some kids will take comfort in understanding the exact flow of the day – others might do better with the highlights.

Pete the Cat Puppet on a Stick

  1. Take a Walk – If your child’s school offers an orientation, go. A clear picture of the campus and classroom goes a long way to calm first day jitters, as does meeting the teacher and soon-to-be-friends. If there’s no orientation, take a stroll through the school together a few days before school starts. Locate the classroom, bathrooms, and drinking fountains and check out the playground. Discuss how your child will get to school in the morning and how he or she will get home in the afternoon. Answer any and all questions your child has.
  1. Make the Mornings Meaningful! Starting a few days before school, begin practicing your morning routine, from waking up to actually getting out the door. Leave enough time to make the mornings calm and relaxed, not a stressful scramble. Preparing as much as possible the night before is a big help – have your kids help you get backpacks loaded, lunches made, water bottles filled, and clothing selected. Make sure your child has a nutritious breakfast before getting dressed, brushing teeth and hair, and gathering her things.
  1. Goodbye Routine! It’s easy to get caught up chatting with other parents, but a solid, focused, goodbye routine is the foundation of a great day at any age. Come up with something special for your child and stay consistent – plant a kiss in his palm to hold all day long, see you later alligator/after a while crocodile, a kiss and a hug and squeeze you like a bug… Whatever you choose, do it with conviction, make eye contact, and tell your child you love them and that you know they’re going to have a great day.

Raising Money for a Dog-Gone Great Charity!

In July, EI’s fundraising efforts went to the dogs… literally! Kent Brings, our VP of Sales, selected Freedom Service Dogs of America to receive last month’s Change It Up team donations.

kentfreedomservicedogsFreedom Service Dogs is a nonprofit organization that betters the lives of children, veterans, active duty soldiers, and adults with disabilities by pairing them with custom-trained service dogs, free of charge. The organization rescues dogs from shelters and trains them to open doors, pick things up, pull wheelchairs, get help, turn on lights, and follow more than 50 other helpful commands, and also provides support for the dog’s lifetime.

In addition to servicing those with autism, traumatic brain injuries, Cerebral Palsy, spinal cord injuries, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, and post-traumatic stress disorder, Freedom Service Dogs of America also participates in programs for humane education, disabilities awareness, at-risk youth, and rehabilitation therapy.

To learn more about Freedom Service Dogs of America or to make a contribution, visit 

30 Reasons to Get Excited About Starting School


Dump Those First Day Jitters and Get Your Big Kid Excited About Kindergarten!

With the promise of nurturing teachers, new friends, and amazing things to learn, there are a lot of reasons to be excited about starting school. But for many kids, the unfamiliar brings fear and anxiety. Below are 30 fun and fabulous reasons to count down the days ‘till Kindergarten. Share them with your soon-to-be student and get your little one as excited about starting school as you are!

30 great things about kindergarten:

1. Friends!
2. First day outfit
3. Learning to read
4. Brand-new crayons
5. Science experiments
6. Story time
7. Cafeteria pizza
8. Foursquare
9. Counting to 100
10. New lunchbox
11. Recess
12. Field trips
13. Writing your own name
14. Big kid backpack
15. Kickball
16. Rainy day games
17. Sculpting with Playfoam®
18. Pencil pouches
19. Macaroni art
20. Circle time
21. Library day
22. Computer lab
23. Class pets
24. Lunchbox notes
25. Perfect attendance prizes
26. Classroom jobs
27. Dr. Seuss
28. Magnet math
29. Writing stories
30. A terrific teacher who can’t wait to meet you!

Rain, Rain, Go Away! Make the most of a drizzly day with big-time summer crafting fun!

Stuck inside on a summer day? Turn rainy day frowns upside down with these super-cool crafts guaranteed to make your kiddos smile!

Popsicle Flowers

Petal Power

These precious Popsicle stick creations make an adorable addition to your garden or potted plants!

What You’ll Need:

  • 10 Craft sticks or Popsicle sticks
  • Acrylic paints and brushes
  • Craft glue or glue gun (Parents, you’ll need to handle the glue gun, if you use one!)

What to Do:

  1. Paint all but two Popsicle sticks any color you’d like – make them all the same color or go for a variety.
  2. Paint the remaining two sticks green.
  3. Stack your sticks as shown above, gluing each one to the one below.
  4. Add a drop of glue to the tips of the green sticks and slide them into the center to create a 3-D floral sculpture!

Rainbow Rocks

Rainbow Rocks

Add some summer color to your yard with these rockin’ home-made rainbows!

What You’ll Need:

  • Several small to medium sized rocks in a variety of shapes
  • Wax crayons
  • Baking sheet
  • Tin foil
  • Oven (With parental supervision, of course!)

What to Do:

  1. Collect your stones, wash them, and dry them.
  2. Place the stones on a foiled-covered baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees until warm.
  3. Remove one or two rocks at a time and place on the table (you might want to put a towel down to protect your table from scratches and heat).
  4. Use your crayons to color a rainbow design – red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple – or colorful abstract on the rocks. The wax will melt on the rocks and leave a bright, shiny shell on top. NOTE – the rocks will be HOT, so kids shouldn’t touch or hold them. Longer crayons will keep little fingers further from the heat.

Playfoam Flower

Squishy, Squashy Summer Flowers

Squeeze in some sculpting fun with Playfoam®!

What You’ll Need:

  • Several colors of Playfoam®, including green.
  • Creativity!

What to Do:

  1. Choose your petal color.
  2. Squish the Playfoam up until it resembles a petal. Repeat until you have 5 petals.
  3. Roll the green Playfoam into a tubular shape.
  4. Attach all pieces, pressing down to make them stick.
  5. When you’re done, separate the pieces, squish them up, and play all over again – Playfoam never dries out so you can create again and again!

Drip drop painting

Drip-Drop Painting

Pour on the fun with this messy but marvelous painting technique!

What You’ll Need:

  • Flower pot(s) – Terra Cotta works best, but plastic is fine, too!
  • Several colors of acrylic paint in squeezable tubes
  • Tape (any kind will do)
  • Tarp, sheet, or towel
  • And yes, parental supervision!

What to Do:

  1. Turn your pot upside down and place it on the protective tarp or sheet. Weather permitting; you may want to do this project outside.
  2. Cover the hole in the bottom of the pot with tape.
  3. Choose your first color and pour it onto the top of your pot. Be generous.
  4. Choose another color and pour that on top of the first one.
  5. Continue pouring – the more paint you add, the more it will flow down the sides of the pot. You can be deliberate in your colors and striping or go Jackson Pollack and watch what happens!

DIY Rain Stick

Let It Rain!

Shake things up with a home-made rain stick!

What You’ll Need:

  • A sturdy, cardboard tube (the tubes inside your plastic wrap or foil are great)
  • Aluminum foil
  • Tape
  • Glue
  • Short nails and/or tacks
  • Rice, beans, or buttons – you’ll need lots!
  • Parental supervision!

What to Do:

  1. Press your nails or tacks into your tube, making sure they don’t poke through the other side (ouch!).
  2. Wrap your tube in tin foil, covering one end completely (you may want to tape it).
  3. Pour your rice, beans, or buttons in the other end. The more you use, the better the sound.
  4. Seal the open end with tin foil and tape.
  5. Decorate as you wish – with stickers, decorative tape, tissue paper and glue, paint, feathers, what have you…


Meet Nancy B at Creative Kidstuff!

Meet Nancy B

Hey Minnesotans! Join Nancy Balter, founder of Nancy B’s Science Club™, as she performs some super-cool science experiments at Creative Kidstuff stores around the land of 10,000 lakes!

Find Nancy at the following locations: (appearances are scheduled for one hour)

  • 7/30 Creative Kidstuff in St. Paul store at 10:00 AM.
    1074 Grand Ave.
    Saint Paul, MN 55105
  • 7/30 Creative Kidstuff at Mall of America at 1:00 PM.
    166 South Avenue
    Bloomington, MN 55425
  • 7/31 Creative Kidsuff Minneapolis Store at 10:00 AM
    4313 Upton Ave. S.
    Minneapolis, MN 55410.
  • 7/31 Creative Kidstuff Galleria Mall at 1:00 PM.
    3555 69th St.
    Edina, MN 55435

A scientist and a mom, Nancy Balter is passionate about sharing her love of science with children around the world. With degrees from Yale and USC in biology and science education, respectively, and two young children of her own, Nancy is captivated by the natural curiosity of children young and old(er). Nancy B’s Science Club™, her namesake brand featuring scientific tools and activities that encourage young girls to explore and pursue the sciences, launched to critical acclaim in 2013.

Can’t make it to her demonstrations? Bring the fun home with 25% off of all Nancy B’s Science Club™ products during our Get Smart Sale (sale ends 7/31).

For more details about store hours and exact location, please visit Creative Kidstuff.