Frequently Asked Questions
1. What ages are the curriculums designed for?
Buttercups® is designed for infants and toddlers who are ages 0 – 36 mos. All activities in the Buttercups® Curriculum Guide include suggestions for both older and younger children.
Fireflies® offers a blend of child-initiated and teacher-directed activities adaptable for children ages 3 – 5 years. Many activities in the Fireflies® Curriculum Guide include adaptations or alternatives for younger children and those with special needs.
FunShine Online® is our digital curriculum, adaptable for ages 0 - 5 years.
Art Packs include art activities directly from the Fireflies® program, and are therefore most appropriate for children ages 3 - 5.
2. Do the activities change each year?
Yes! FunShine Express® is on a four-year rotation basis. New themes and activities are added throughout each rotation. The themes and activities are rewritten and reworked to include any new art materials and to keep the activities fresh and up to date with current early childhood standards.
3. Are the topics covered in Buttercups® the same as Fireflies®?
Yes, themes are aligned between the two programs. Buttercups is adjusted to be appropriate for younger children. Topics and concepts covered in Buttercups® are more concrete and less broad than Fireflies®.
4. How long does it take to complete the program each day?
Our Fireflies program is flexible. We suggest that you look through the activity suggestions given for each day in the Curriculum Guide. Next, decide which of the ideas would work best for the children in your group (judging from their interests, ages, developmental level and skills, etc.). The length of time the program takes depends on which activities you choose to implement. If your environment is organized in centers, many of the activities can be introduced and then be available to the children all day (some even several days!). If your environment is not organized in centers, it will probably work best to implement the activities with small groups of children. Many factors affect the length of time our program takes. Introduce activities that you believe are appropriate for the children in your care. Monitor the children’s interest levels and offer new materials or a new activity when their interest begins to fade.
Buttercups is also designed to be very flexible. Repetition is important for children in this age group, and their day is very much dictated by their sleeping and eating patterns. For these reasons, Buttercups® incorporates ideas to use during daily routines, such as diaper changes and meal times, plus many activity ideas to use with one or two children at a time. How long our program takes to implement each day is greatly determined by your daily schedule and each child’s daily routine.
5. How much cutting is involved for the provider and the child?
Items the children may cut in the Fireflies® program are related to the art projects. The art materials are not pre-cut. We believe practice with scissors is important for children! Cutting is a fine motor skill that requires time and practice to develop. When designing the program, we are careful to ensure the cutting that the children will be doing is simple, without difficult corners or curves. This also allows the children to be creative. Each child’s project should look different! The Buttercups® program does not include cutting.
6. Are all of the materials for the art/craft projects included?
Fireflies® includes materials to complete 16 projects each month. The lesson plan includes an art project for each day, and on the days for which we do not provide the materials, the project will include a list of needed materials, instructions, and a sample picture.
Buttercups® includes materials to complete 12 projects per two months. The lesson plan also includes a few additional suggested art projects where art supplies are not included.
We ask you to supply basic items, such as paint, glue, scissors, crayons, markers, old newspapers, etc. A “Materials List” is included in each kit to let you know what you need to gather to complete every activity that month.
7. What is the difference between Practice Pages and Journals?
Practice Pages are loose sheets (9 per child) for the younger children in your group. They include printing practice and more basic tracing and coloring.
Journals are bound 16-page booklets for the older children in your group. They include printing practice and theme-related pages for enhancing critical thinking skills, such as drawing and free writing. It may be easier with the younger children in your group to open their journals for them to the page they will be working on. The older children may be able to read the page numbers at the bottom to find the page you are working on. You will need to explain to the children when you start working with them that they should only write on the pages you are working on and not work ahead in the book. Journals include perforated pages so they can be sent home with the child as they are completed.
8. How do I use the Practice Pages or Journals with my children?
These children's resources were not designed with the intention of being given to a child to “do”, but instead to be done in a small group with a caregiver monitoring the activity. The directions will need to be explained to the children on each page so they know what to do. As they become familiar with them, they will know what to do on some of the pages.
There are a number of ways you can choose to use the practice pages or journals:
- Choose how often you want to use them: daily, once a week, twice a week, every other day, etc. Use two pages or more at a time, or just one page depending on how many days you use it.
- Correlate the pages you use with the activities you are doing for the day.
- Do them one on one, or in a small group setting.
- Use as a transition time before or after another activity.
- Use during a special writing time.
9. Can Art Projects be purchased separately?
Yes! The Art Pack is a monthly activity pack adapted directly from our Fireflies® art projects. We choose 8 of our favorite crafts for the upcoming month and package them starting at 2 children. Order here. The Art Pack is available to order monthly, with Automatic Shipping, or as a Prepayment Plan.
10. What are my ordering options?
Order just one kit at a time at your convenience. You can also choose to set up an Automatic Shipment or Prepaid Subscription to save you the hassle of placing your order each month, and your kit is shipped between 3-4 weeks before the start of each month. Plus, we offer discounts up to 15% on Prepaid Plans.
Get more details about ordering options.
11. Can I make changes to my Prepaid or Automatic Shipping order?
Of course! You may add supplies, change the number of children, etc. Just make sure to contact us BEFORE your scheduled kit ships to avoid extra costs. We send email reminder notices to you before each of your scheduled shipments. Please note, shipping is subject to change based on the total of your order.
12. How can one program be appropriate for 0-36 month olds?
Because each child develops at their own pace, all Buttercups® activities are written for three age ranges. The first part of each activity is written to be most appropriate for 12-24 month olds; suggestions for older and younger children follow. Review the three options and choose the one that is most appropriate for each child at their level of development (regardless of their age).
13. Why isn't Buttercups® monthly?
After polling our customers for the past two years, the consensus has been to have a kit for children ages 0-36 months old every two months. Activities for this age group are meant to be incorporated into children’s natural play and daily routines. They are busy learning how to crawl, walk, and talk. They know what they need to learn and they need abundant opportunities to repeat the activities they enjoy. The environment must support children’s growth and development needs. A 2-month kit provides you with numerous play-based activities related to each learning domain and suggestions to make the most of daily routines. Try those that are most appropriate for the children in your group and repeat favorites often.
14. Why did your prices increase?
In order to continue offering you a high quality curriculum, we have to occasionally increase the price of our kits. We know that child care providers and preschools are on tight budgets, and that the economic crisis of the past few years has further increased financial pressure. We face financial challenges as well. Here are a few reasons we have to increase prices:
- Our prices for the raw materials in your kit increase each year. For example, in the last year alone, paper prices have increased by about 10%, and our cost of shipping to you has increased by 10%. The raw materials (paper, bags, craft supplies, boxes, packing tape, etc) make up almost 30% of the cost you pay for your kit, so those increases have a big impact.
- So, why can’t we find cheaper suppliers? Many of the items in your kit might be produced by only one supplier and we have decided that some of those items are important because they are unique, safe for children, or important to a particular activity. Safety especially is a concern. We make sure that craft materials and paper we use in the kits meet the children’s safety guidelines for lead and other compounds as set forth by the CPSIA Act of 2008. Many of those things are produced in the USA and therefore are a bit more expensive, but we guarantee they’re safe for your children.
- Our product is labor intensive. The curriculum writing, planning, artwork, invoices, and kits are all generated by our staff. Most of the craft items are purchased in bulk and then cut, counted, and packaged by hand. We take pride in providing jobs to a skilled staff to do these things and have an obligation to pay them reasonable wages and benefits.
We are always careful about raising prices, and only do so after careful examination of costs. We believe that we offer a great value for your dollar when you consider the time you save and the educational benefits to the children you work with. Please contact us if you have any additional questions.