Play to Learn

Supporting a child’s social, emotional, and academic development outside of the classroom can seem daunting and exhausting. Parenting techniques are constantly evolving, and up-and-coming toys and learning tools often feel like code for spending more money.  

But bringing learning into your home does not have to be time consuming, expensive, or stressful – because children learn through play, and there are resources available to help parents and caregivers optimize learning at home. Here are a few of our favorite online portals.

  • Zeno Math Family Resources provides families with activities, handouts, and videos centered on engaging in math and building math habits. 
  • Virtual Play to Learn is a thematic video series that uses stories, activities, and discussion to teach each letter of the alphabet.
  • Look, Listen, and Learn is an educational television show that supports emotional wellbeing in children by offering in-home learning tools for children ages 3 to 8 years old.
  • Play at Home provides weekly handouts from Play to Learn Pierce County including activities, book suggestions, songs, and learning objectives.

In addition to online tools to support playful learning, resources are available to support your child’s social and emotional learning (SEL) at home. 

Spending time with close loved ones provides a safe space to unwind, be yourself, and when things get tough – to connect with and express deep feelings and big emotions. By integrating SEL in the home, we can develop a shared sense of trust around the validity of our emotions and navigate those emotions with easy-to-use tools. 

One way to incorporate SEL into your family’s everyday routine is to acknowledge, name, and respond to your emotions, also known as a Zone Check-In. Print off and hang the Zone Check-In sheet somewhere in your home to encourage daily emotional reflection!

To practice responding to your emotions, check out the Greentrike OSTI virtual zone rooms, where you’ll find videos, activities, and book recommendations specific to each zone!

Open Ended Play

Learning, play, and math meet with Finding Math from the Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences! Children will practice investigating, recognizing shapes, using a chart, and abstracting with this fun, exploratory at-home activity.


Download the full PDF here.

In The Community

Hispanic Heritage Month

Every year from September 15 to October 15, Hispanic and Latino Americans’ cultures, contributions, and achievements are celebrated nationwide through National Hispanic Heritage Month. 

September 15 marks the anniversary of the independence of five Hispanic countries – Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. Mexico and Chile’s independence days also fall during this month-long celebration. 

National Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated across the country with festivals, art shows, conferences, and so much more. Take time this month to explore the rich contributions Hispanic and Latino Americans have made to make our country a stronger and more equitable place. To honor this month and champion learning, we created this list of books exploring the diversity of Hispanic heritage.

Lakewood’s Colonial Plaza hosts Saturday Street Festivals every summer, and the final festival of the season is a celebration of Hispanic culture on September 17!

Celebrate the Latino communities of the South Sound with music, dance, art, crafts and more at Festival Latinx on September 24 at the Tacoma Armory! Latinx Unidos of the South Sound and Tacoma Arts Live are hosting this free community event for the whole family. 

Kids Take Over the Kitchen Day

On September 13, children and teens are encouraged to join their caregivers in the preparation and planning of the day’s meals! Not only will children learn about nutrition and gain a new skill, it’s also a great opportunity to connect over a shared experience. 

Here are 25 recipes to make as a family, and for your more independent littles and older youth, 15 recipes kids can make themselves.

International Talk Like a Pirate Day

What started as a joke holiday in the 1990s has become a national phenomenon of costumes, accents, and Pirates-of-the-Caribbean-style silliness every year on September 19

Do you know what these pirate phrases mean? Answers at the bottom of the blog.



Shiver me timbers

Avast Ye

Aye, Aye

Fire in the hole



PIRACY DISCOUNT: Use one of the phrases above at the front desk of the Children’s Museum of Tacoma or the Children’s Museum at JBLM September 16 – 19 to receive a coupon code for 15% off a birthday party hosted at the Museum. 

National Voter Registration Day

Celebrated every September, National Voter Registration Day celebrates the foundation of the democracy that defines the United States of America. Hundreds of thousands of volunteers join together to ensure that as many people as possible are registered to vote in upcoming elections.

Voting represents our voice as Americans and knowing how to vote is the first step in using our voice to the fullest. Confirm your voter registration, find polling places, and have other questions answered here

In Washington state, you can pre-register to vote at 16 years old! Head to to pre-register online.

World Gratitude Day

Every year on September 21 we are invited to express our gratitude and appreciation for the people in our lives. 

What does it mean to show gratitude? Another word for gratitude is thankfulness, and it’s a way to show the people who are kind to us, take care of us, and support us that we appreciate their actions or the way they treat us. 

Who would you like to show gratitude toward this year? Whether you’re thankful for the teacher who remembers your favorite color, the mailman who makes you laugh, or your sibling who cleans up after you, there are lots of ways to show them gratitude. Try creating a gratitude tree, writing thank you cards, or keeping a gratitude journal

Gold Star Parents and Family Day

This observance falls on the last Sunday of September each year and recognizes and honors surviving parents and families of fallen service members. 

Joint Base Lewis-McChord will be hosting a JBLM Gold Star Parents & Families Day Recognition event on Saturday, September 24 from 100 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the McChord Club.

Caregiver Corner

To help you promote learning outside of the classroom, we’ve put together a list of books our staff personally use and recommend in their own families and classrooms. 

  • Sparks: How Parents Can Ignite the Hidden Strengths of Teenagers by Peter L. Benson
  • Einstein Never Used Flash Cards: How Our Children Really Learn – And Why They Need to Play More and Memorize Less by Roberta Michnick Golinkoff
  • The Importance of Being Little: What Young Children Really Need From Grownups by Erika Christakis 
  • The Power of Play: Learning What Comes Naturally by David Elkind
  • Bringing Reggio Emilia Home: An Innovative Approach to Early Childhood Education by Louise Boyd Cadwell

Pirate phrases key

Ahoy: A call used to greet someone or draw attention to something from a distance

Marooned: Abandoned on a remote desert island

Shiver me timbers: An exclamation of surprise

Avast Ye: Stop and pay attention

Aye, Aye: Yes, I understand

Fire in the Hole: A warning before a cannon is fired

Blimey: An exclamation of surprise or annoyance

Parley: A discussion or conference