JRI First Connections Blog

3 min read

Social and Emotional Skills for 2- and 3-Year-Olds

By Ellie Springer on July 13, 2018

Social and Emotional Skills for Preschoolers

Two and three-year-olds are learning to…

  • Have a sense of themselves as individuals
  • Develop strong relationships with familiar adults other than their primary caregiver(s)
  • Name emotions
  • Identify emotions in themselves and others
  • Use words to express their feelings, needs and desires
  • Begin to regulate their emotions, using new coping strategies for when they are upset, with adult support
  • Use self help skills: dressing and undressing independently
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1 min read

Play Dough Recipe

By Ellie Springer on July 6, 2018

To make homemade play dough:


2 cups flour

1 cup salt

2 Tablespoons vegetable oil

2 Tablespoons cream of tartar


2 cups of very HOT water (almost boiling)

Food coloring

Mix until you get a good consistency. There may be some flour left in the bowl. If it is too runny, add some flour. If it is too dry, add a little water.

After it cools, your kids can play with it.

Store in an

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4 min read

Clean Up Time

By Ellie Springer on June 29, 2018

It is often harder to get children to clean up at home than it is in a group setting such as playgroup or school.  The routines at home are more variable, and whatever they are leaving play time to do is usually not as exciting as circle or the playground.

                 See the source image

So cleaning up at home can be more challenging than in a group setting.  But you

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2 min read

Sensory Play Ideas

By Ellie Springer on June 22, 2018

Materials for a sensory tub:

(other than the standard sand or water)

  • Cornstarch and water
  • Cooked spaghetti noodles
  • Shaving cream
  • Cotton balls
  • Oats
  • Rice
  • Beans
  • Paper to rip and/or shredded paper
  • Soapy water
  • Ice cubes
  • Snow
  • Ribbons
  • Jell-O
  • Uncooked pasta
  • Dry cereal
  • Tin foil
  • Grass, leaves, flowers

Tools to add:

  • Sponges—car, doll, or toy wash
  • Turkey baster, medicine dropper
  • Colander, sieve
  • Buckets, shovels
  • Measuring cups
  • Funnel
  • Hammer (for dry cereal or pasta)
  • Empty bottles or
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5 min read


By Ellie Springer on June 15, 2018

You hear parents and other adults telling kids all the time, "Share your toys!" But do kids always have to share? And when can they do it without help from an adult and/or throwing a tantrum? 

           See the source image

Well, it all depends. It depends on the  situation, on the toy or activity your child is being asked to share, and on your child's developmental stage. And you also get

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6 min read

Playgroup Songs

By Ellie Springer on June 8, 2018

Playgroup Songs:

See the source image

Willoughby Wallaby

Willoughby wallaby Wellie,

An elephant sat on Ellie;

Willoughby wallaby Wary,

An elephant sat on Mary.


Ellie, Ellie, bo bellie,

Banana fana fo fellie,

Me my mo mellie,


The Jumping Name Song:

There was a girl at playgroup today,

And Ellie was her name-o.

Jump, jump, Ellie, jump.

Jump, jump, Ellie, jump.

We're glad you're here today-o!


Galloop went the little green frog one day,

Galloop went the

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A Blog to Connect Families with Resources to Foster Healthy Parenting

Our mission at First Connections is to equip parents with tools, practical strategies, and connections to other families and their communities to foster healthy parenting and guide them through the first years of the parenting journey.

We offer support groups and play groups to families with children from birth to age 8 in the communities of Acton, Bedford, Boxborough, Carlisle, Concord, Hanscom AFB, Harvard, Lincoln, Littleton, Maynard, Sudbury, and Westford.

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Rachel has been a part of the JRI team since January, 2000. For over 20 years, Rachel has been working in the field of human services assisting families with accessing and navigating services. Rachel received her Bachelors degree in psychology and Masters Degree in Public Administration from Bridgewater State University. She was promoted in July 2005 to Family Networks Program Director where she closely worked with the Department of Children Families for 10 years ensuring that children and families received the highest quality of individualized services ranging from community based through residential care. Rachel is very dedicated to helping the individuals she works with and is committed to improving the lives of children and families. Rachel’s passion for creative service programming inspires her in her role as JRI Service Navigator.