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*We’ve partnered with Safari Ltd® to help you prep for a successful school year by using the art of play.

No matter how many years of preschool you’ve got under your belt, there’s something major about sending your baby off to Kindergarten. You’ve officially got a “big kid” now, even if she still looks (and sometimes acts) like your baby. And although you know there will be many exciting, overwhelming and, yes, nerve-wracking “back to school” moments to come, that first day of Kindergarten always gets top billing. Like, forever.

But a little bit of back-to-school prep can go a long way, for both kiddo and mama. So we’ve partnered with our friends at Safari Ltd®, makers of our favorite educational animal toys and figurines, to show how some creative play with some of Safari’s hand-painted, scientifically accurate “Toys that Teach” can be the best way to get your toddler school-ready before she ever steps foot into the classroom.

Ana Fritsch, the blogger behind the Lucky Penny blog, is about to experience that first day of Kindergarten with her daughter Edith this fall. We asked this Brooklyn mama to show us what the night before school looks like for her, Edith and little sis Lilah, 3, as part of our back-to-school series with Safari Ltd®. Below, she shares how she’s prepping (hint: there’s lots of Safari’s Toys that Teach® involved!) for this momentous back to school transition.

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“With Summer nearing its end, I found myself one day in the ‘Back To School’ aisle picking up a few supplies and wondering how it is that my first baby is making her way into Kindergarten in just a few short weeks.”

I feel a little more prepared for the transition thanks to NYC’s Universal Pre-K program. Edith is going to be attending the same school this year and it has helped us both feel very comfortable knowing what lies ahead. I was amazed watching her growth in Pre-K, seeing new connections being made in her mind and seeing them come to life outside of the classroom. I can only imagine what new skills and knowledge she will acquire during this school year.”

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Her Pre-K teachers last year sent her home with a calendar that counts down the days until the start of Kindergarten and she has anxiously been crossing them off. She wakes up every morning and screams, “Only 23 more days to go!” Her teachers did a great job getting her ready for the transition, having her eat in the lunchroom with the “big kids” and having us leave quickly after drop-off.

We have also been working on reading and staying busy with activities, crafts and pretend play with her collection of Safari animals and creatures. We also love stopping by her school garden to see how the plants her classroom planted have grown.

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The night before school, I always pack her lunch and we pick out her clothes together. They aren’t allowed to bring any toys to school, but we sneak in her favorite Safari Lion that she promises to keep in her backpack during the day.

Edith has always been a bright, outgoing, and very independent girl. And while she hardly follows my rules at home, she really thrives in a structured school environment. I’m excited to see which of her friends from last year are returning. She made such special friendships and I would love to watch those grow throughout the years.

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Kindergarten is definitely the beginning of a new era for us. I don’t feel like I’m closing the door on her being ‘my baby’ but rather opening a new door for so much growth and opportunity. I feel like this is just the beginning of getting to know who she really is and watching find her way in the world.”

Give your kiddo a head start on the school year by teaching the importance of nature and its conservation through the joy of play. Save 15% off sitewide at with coupon code WELLROUNDED.

Photography by Jonica Moore Studio for Well Rounded.

Shop Edith’s Safari Ltd® toys here:

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Safari Ltd® Wild Safari® Wildlife Lion

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Safari Ltd® Crystal Cavern Dragon

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Safari Ltd® Mythical Realms® Pink Unicorn

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Safari Ltd® Wildlife Wonders™ Reticulated Giraffe

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Safari Ltd® Mythical Realms® Baby Pegasus