About Jessica Hiltz

Jessica Hiltz is an elementary and music teacher living with husband Jonathan in Nova Scotia's Annapolis Valley. As a freelance author, she enjoys writing on a topic that has affected her life as a Christian woman and that has brought her closer to other women concerned with the same area: infertility. Having found that life is fulfilling in full-time Christian service, Jessica can most often be found enjoying the company of children, whether it be in the classroom, at the piano, or in children's church.

Preparing Your Child for School – Games

Preparing Your Child for School

Preparing Your Child for School

I have been giving you a few ideas for ways to prepare your child for school over the past few weeks.

Week 1- Toys

Week 2 – Crafts

Today we are going to talk about games that can help. Most games will help a child develop in some way. They may help a child learn to wait their turn, following rules, and even counting! When first teaching a child to play a game, you are going to have to play with them. You can play your own turn, then help the child play their turn. If you have other children that are old enough to play, you can just help your child.

Here are a few of my favourite games:

  1. Matching Games – These come in a variety of types, from animals to shapes.  I have one that is children from different countries of the world.
  2. UNO (or other card games) – When first teaching a child to play, teach them to match by colour.  As they master that, then teaching them to match colour or number.  There are also many kinds of UNO, from Angry Birds to princesses to letters.
  3. Board Games (Sorry, Snakes and Ladders, Trouble) – These games help a child to learn to count.  They roll a dice and move their game piece.  You may have to start with simplistic rules, but eventually you can work up to the full deal.
  4. Blokus – This is one of my favourite games.  First just play with you and the child with one colour each.  Teach your child to first match the corners of their colour.  After they have mastered that, then begin to block them a bit so the game becomes a little harder.  Then let them play with others and increase the challenge.
  5. Puzzles – If you are a busy mother (and I don’t think you can be a mother without being busy :)), teach your child how to do puzzles.  They will be able to entertain themselves quietly with them.  As I have taught in multi-grade classrooms for the last 13 years, puzzles are my go to.  The children can do them quietly and they are occupied for a while with them.  Start with the simple board ones and work your way through to harder ones.  My sister taught my nephew how to do puzzles when he was little.  He is now 4 years old, and he is doing 60+ piece puzzles.  If he is up before them, he will do puzzles until they get up.  He does them on the floor in the hallway outside of the bedrooms so she know where he is, but he is still being quiet.

This is just the tip of the iceberg when talking about games.  There are so many games out there.  Each game will teach your child different skills.  I have bought all my games second hand for a fraction of the price. I have never paid full price for a children’s game.

Remember that preparing your child for school is not some huge amount of work that you have to buy expensive supplies for.  It can be done by capitalizing on “teaching” moments throughout each day with your child.

What are some of your child’s favourite games?  I always enjoy picking up new games for my classroom.  

Preparing Your Child for School – Crafts

Preparing Your Child for School

Preparing Your Child for School

Today’s post is the second on preparing your child for school.  I hope you found the first post on Toys helpful.  Today I am going to talk about craft supplies.  Craft supplies are inexpensive today due to “dollar stores” and “discount chains.”


There are two types of crafts you can do with your child.  Children need a balance of the two.

  1. guided crafts  Pinterest, craft books and blogs are full of ideas for crafts.  This type of craft will teach your child to follow directions and a pattern.
  2. creative craft time This is where you sit your child down with craft supplies and let them make their own creations.  This will help them to learn to be creative.  


Here are some basic craft supplies that will help to encourage your child’s creativity.

  • Chalk & Chalkboards  You don’t have to have an elaborate chalkboard.  A cheap, individual-sized one will do the trick.  Side walk chalk is also fun!
  • Crayons, Pencils & Paint Preschoolers don’t need a 64 count package of crayons.  A small package of 8 crayons in basic colours will do the trick.  Watercolour paints make little mess.  If you are adventurous, try finger paint!
  • Scissors & Glue Children love to cut and glue.  I save the fronts of my old greeting cards for my kindergarten students to cute up.  Glue sticks tend to make make less mess than liquid glue.  
  • Other Supplies There is no end to the supplies that are available.  Check out your local dollar store to see what is available there.  Items such as pom poms, beads, glitter, yarn and different papers will take craft time to a whole new level.  A level which may include extra creativity, but may also include extra stress for the parent! 🙂


Keep your craft time simple.  Don’t worry about turning out picture perfect art projects.  Le your child be creative and develop their independence and creativity.

Preparing Your Child for School – Toys

As an elementary teacher, some of the questions I get asked most often have to do with preparing children for school. Every parent wants to give their child a good, head start before they begin school. They want their child to succeed and to be well off academically.
There is no “magic” formula for preparing a child for school. Mothers are more than capable of preparing their child at home. It doesn’t take expensive curriculum or high tech computer games. It only takes a few items, most of which are inexpensive.
Over the next month, I am going to be sharing a few items each week that will help to prepare your child for school. Many you will have in your home. Some you will be able to purchase cheaply. Others you will be able to find second hand for a good price. Don’t feel you need every one; just work with what you have.  Today we will begin with toys.

Preparing Your Child for School

Preparing Your Child for School

When my sister went to her prenatal classes, the class leader told the soon-to-be parents not to worry about all the “new” toys. She told them to invest in the “old” toys from their childhood. These toys were the ones that stood the test of time and had academic value. Here are a few of my favorites.

1. Toys that utilize the alphabet
These toys will help children with letter recognition and they won’t even realize that they are learning their alphabet/letters.
Magnetic letter sets
Blocks with letters on them
Alphabet puzzles

2. Toys that build fine motor skills
These toys prepare children for holding a pencil and using their hands for other skills.
Play dough
Blocks (stacking or interlocking)
Cheerios or other small foods (Let them feed themselves.)

3. Toys that help hand/eye coordination
These will help children to get their hands and eyes working together to accomplish a task.
Shape sorters
Lacing cards (These are simple and inexpensive to make yourself.)


This list is just the beginning. Look around your house to see what toys you have that fit into these categories, then spend five minutes a day with your child instructing them on how to use them properly. Teach them how to build a tower with blocks. Say the name of the shapes as you drop them into the shape sorter. Review colours as they play with play dough. Spell their name in magnets on the fridge. Make it fun. You’ll be amazed at how quickly they will catch on!

Laughing Friends

I am so thankful for friends that I can laugh with. These are friends that you share a special bond with. You might be in a room full of people and something happens. It’s not funny to everyone in the room, but you and your “laughing” friend catch each other’s eye and the laughs begin.

This type of friend brings comic relief to somewhat tense situations. Maybe you are struggling with a difficult situation, and your friend can make you laugh about it.  Maybe you are in the midst of a trial, but a laugh with this friend makes you feel so much better about things.

I can tend to be a very intense person, so having friends that lighten the situation by making me laugh is such a blessing. My husband can make me laugh in any situation. He is a gift from God. When I become overwhelmed, stressed and tense; he gets me laughing at myself in no time.

“If we couldn’t laugh, we would all go insane!”  -Robert Frost

Laughter is contagious as well. You may not feel like laughing, but hearing someone else laughing will have you laughing in no time!

A few weeks ago in school, one of my students began to laugh at something (that really wasn’t that funny to me) and within a few minutes both of us were laughing so hard we were crying.

Laughing Friends

Laughing Friends

Many studies claim adults laugh about 15-20 times a day while children can laugh about 300-400 times per day. I guess as adults we have become pretty solemn. Is it any wonder that children are much happier than adults?

So give the gift of laughter to someone else. Whether you are laughing at yourself or with someone else, keep a smile on your face and you will be sure to brighten your friend’s day!


Check out the other posts in this series:

Random Friends

Heart to Heart Friends

Mentoring Friends

Mentoring Friends

I am so thankful for the mentoring friends in my life. These are the ladies who are older than me, but take an interest in my life. They encourage me in my pursuits of life. They take my ideas seriously. These ladies are behind me cheering on my ideas, hopes and dreams. These ladies treat me as though I have the wisdom and perspective that they have.

These ladies are also a wealth of wisdom and knowledge. When I have an opportunity to spend time with them, I just sit and listen. They have been down the road and experienced so much more than I have. I just enjoy gleaning all the knowledge and wisdom that I can from them.

This group of women also passes down some of the best recipes! I have a large recipe collection thanks to these women! These ladies also have invaluable insight when it comes to home making.

Recipe from friend

Recipe from friend

I am so thankful for mentoring friends who I am able to watch and learn from. In this day and age where so many “traditional” skills aren’t being taught, I am thankful that I can pattern parts of my life after how I see these women live.

Many of these ladies are the quiet, behind-the-scenes type of women. They aren’t always the women who are in the forefront, but they are serving where ever God has placed them.

In every ministry that I have been involved in, God has always given me a mentoring friend. She is a woman who encourages me behind the scenes when no one else notices the discouragement on my face. She is the one who cheers me on when everyone else thinks that my ideas are dumb. She is always looking for ways to encourage me as I serve in my ministry where God has placed me.

I am so thankful for my mentoring friends! I need to work on being this type of a friend to those who are younger than me!