From the moment we are born, we communicate with the world around us. Whether we communicate through our emotions, the clothes we wear, the languages we speak, or the traditions we uphold, we are constantly sharing who we are, what we believe in, what groups we belong to, how we feel, and how we’d like to be treated in this world. 

Communication is fundamental for children as it strengthens their ability to express themselves and lays the foundation for having empathy for others and fostering relationships throughout their lives. 

Verbal communication encompasses tone, pitch, words, language, and dialect. 

Nonverbal communication is expressed through body language and includes facial expressions, eye contact, hand gestures, and physical touch. 

Open Ended Play

Just Ask Discussion

Just Ask by Sonia Sotomayor prompts children to ask questions centered around the way others move about and interact with the world. Use the guide from Learning to Give to integrate before, during, and after-reading discussion questions and activities to celebrate differences and bring out the themes of self-awareness and respect for self and others. Excerpts from the guide are below.

Before Reading

Ask: Invite listeners to picture a garden in their mind. Describe what you “see” in your garden. If needed, prompt them to consider what colors or sizes their plants might be.

Show: The cover image on the book is of Sonia pushing a wheelbarrow. The subtitle is “Be Different, Be Brave, Be You.”  Invite listeners to pay close attention to how the children and garden in this book are different and brave and unique.

Connect: Before the story begins, the author writes “a letter to readers” in which she talks about her diabetes and the way it set her apart from other kids. She openly shares her purpose for writing this book and her hopes for the ways readers will see themselves in her characters. Read the letter aloud before reading the book.


  • Watch the Sesame Street video above with the author or listen to the author interview here.
  • What are some things that make you yourself? Use Seesaw to describe yourself. Directions here.

In The Community

International Day of Persons with Disabilities

December 3

For the last 30 years, the world has observed December 3 as the International Day of Persons with Disabilities to promote an understanding of disability issues and to show support for the rights of people with disabilities. 

Disability comes in many forms, with 61 million adults in the United States living with a disability. A disability is any condition of the body or mind that makes it more difficult for the person with the condition to do certain activities and interact with the world around them. Disabilities can affect a person’s vision, mobility, thinking, communicating, hearing, remembering, learning, mental health, or social relationships. 

Some disabilities are present at birth while others develop later in life. Some are visible and some are hidden or not easy to see. Teaching children about disability at a young age can help break down ableist assumptions we all navigate. 

Check out this episode of Look, Listen and Learn to spark conversation around disability and empathy, or explore one of our favorite children’s books celebrating people with disabilities to engage in family learning this month. 

National Communicate with Your Kids Day

December 5

As your child’s caregiver and forever teacher, learning to communicate in a way that works for both of you throughout each stage of childhood and adolescence can take practice. Competing parenting advice and societal norms can pressure caregivers to act and react a certain way.

This December, carve out special quality time with your kids to create space for asking new questions, sharing new pieces of yourself with them, and learning how they like to communicate more deeply. 

If you’re looking for guidance on building a healthy foundation for communication, check out these 9 tips from UNICEF.

National Handwashing Awareness Week

December 5 – 11 

As temperatures drop and we gather indoors with family and friends this winter, it’s important to remember the basics to fighting off germs and sickness! One of the best things we can do to prevent the spread of germs is wash our hands. Download, print, and hang a handwashing poster in your home or classroom as a reminder for your little ones. 

The Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department is here to help your family navigate health and wellness. Check out their resources and information for the flu, COVID-19, and family health.

Try integrating the Handwashing Song at Play to Learn Pierce County into your daily routine! To the tune of Frere Jacque.

Tops and Bottom (x 2)

In between (x2)

Scrub them all together (x 2)

Now they’re clean (x2)

World Letter Writing Day

December 7

Long before texting and Facetime, if you wanted to communicate with someone who was far away, you wrote a letter. In fact, writing is so important to human beings that it is believed to be one of the very first skills we developed and can be seen in cave paintings from thousands of years ago. 

This December, try writing your very own letter to someone who lives far away. All you need is paper, an envelope, something to write with, a stamp, and the person you’d like to write to’s address. Here’s a guide to help you fill out your envelope!

National Wrights’ Brothers Day 

December 17

Over 100 years ago, Wilbur and Orville Wright invented the world’s first airplane! You can learn all about their story with this short Adventure Academy Youtube video. 

If you could invent anything, what would it be?

Try your hand at invention at the Children’s Museum at JBLM Maker’s Studio or a family STEAM Day at Tacoma Public Library!

Learn a Foreign Language Month 

While English is the primary language taught in schools and spoken in homes in the United States, learning another language can open us up to new experiences and opportunities and help our cognitive function. There are more than 7,000 languages spoken around the world, and 163 of those languages are spoken in Washington State, making it the third most language diverse state in the country. 

There are a variety of ways caregivers can introduce their children to another language, whether it’s reading a bilingual children’s book once a week, attending a storytime in another language, or signing up for a dual language program. 

Try counting to ten in Twulshootseed or signing along with Teacher Charleen this month!

Looking for more? Check out our ideas to celebrate other observances in December!

  • Talk about what you would like to be known for on Nobel Prize Day | December 10
  • Make homemade hot chocolate on National Cocoa Day | December 13
  • Make sweet treats together on Bake Cookies Day | December 18
  • Go on a tree walk in Pierce County for Look For An Evergreen Day | December 19
  • Shake up your Wednesday morning routine with Don’t Make Your Bed Day | December 21 
  • Start a silly tradition, like banging pots and pans on your porch, to ring in the New Year | December 31

Caregiver Corner

Empathy During the Holidays

The holiday season can bring up a variety of emotions and experiences depending on your individual perspective. Encourage your children to learn and show empathy for how other people choose to celebrate or acknowledge the season.

Do you have questions about your child’s development? 

Reach out to your pediatrician, schedule a developmental screening with Child Find, or get in touch with one of our early intervention partners – A Step Ahead Pierce County, HopeSparks, and Birth to Three Developmental Center – to get the information and support you need.

Playful Offerings for Children with Disabilities

  • Low Sensory Hours at the Children’s Museums of Tacoma (Thursdays, 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.) and at JBLM (Mondays, 10 a.m. – 12 p.m.) are designed for families with sensory sensitivities. 
  • The Exceptional Family Member Program Playgroup at the Children’s Museum at JBLM (Mondays at 10:30 a.m.) offers a comfortable play environment for families enrolled in the Exceptional Family Member Program at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.
  • A Step Ahead Pierce County partners with us to provide an inclusive weekly Play to Learn session for interested families.