About Us

Hey there! I’m Malia and I’m excited to officially welcome you to Playdough to Plato.

I started teaching about 16 years ago and the moment I walked through my classroom doors, I fell instantly smitten with seeing students have those magical ah-ha moments.

So I went ALL IN and worked really hard at becoming the best teacher I could possibly be for them…

I earned my Master’s in Education from Stanford University and went on to earn my National Board Certification too.

But then about 10 years ago, I was on maternity leave with our second son, Grant, and life took an unexpected turn.

I missed being in the classroom and so I launched this site as a way to keep one foot in education during my year away.

And that little hobby quickly became a full-fledged business.

Teachers started emailing me to ask for help with all sorts of things – literacy centers, math games, science experiments…

Playdough to Platoย is where I share what I’ve created so you can take your teaching to the next level…

Because I believe that our students deserve not just a good education but an EXCEPTIONAL one.

I hope you’ll join our inspiring community of incredibly dedicated teachers so we can stay connected! Join our free VIP email list here:

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23 Comments

  1. Kiana

    Hi Malia! I was so excited to read your blog. I have three children. The two oldest are teenagers. Our youngest was a “surprise” and is 3 1/2 years old. I never expected to have another child and look at him as a huge blessing to our family. He has brought such joy to our household with his wonderful personality. I have decided that this time around I am going to keep him home with me instead of sending him to preschool. He is my last one (I think ;)) and I want to enjoy every second with him until he starts kindergarten. I have been trying a very structured curriculum kit by Mother Goose Time but Jadon is really stuggling with the structure and I am not feeling like it is a good fit for us. I have been scouring the internet for fun ways to teach Jadon and that is how I stumbled upon your site. Jadon is very active and loves to play games so a lot of your activities are perfect for him! I am so excited to start the 10 week class! Jadon is still learning to recognize letter consistently but right now is really into reading and we are always pointing and naming letters and he seems to be picking them up quick!

    Love your site!
    Kiana Nafziger

    Reply
    • Malia

      Hi Kiana,

      I’m so happy that you took the time to introduce yourself and tell me about your family. Thank you! Your youngest son sounds a lot like my 3 year old – active and always up for games. Jadon seems like a great fit for Plato Academy and I’m thrilled that you joined the class. Please keep me posted on his progress and let me know about any questions that pop up along the way in the comment section of each class. I’m off to visit your site now {Kids, Dogs and Ticks}. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Malia

      Reply
  2. Haylee

    Malia – I am a mom of 3 – a beautiful 7 year old girl, and 2 super hero boys aged 4 and 2. Life is busy but wonderful and I anxiously await morning so we can play some of the “games” I found on your site tonight! He-he!! My 7 year old is still really struggling with reading. Honestly, she HATES to sound out words – and has just decided she is bad at it. We enrolled her in Kumon which seems to have helped some. Any thoughts about where I should START to try and help her? All of your ideas look so fun! We have tried so many things – but she just doesn’t enjoy it – and now it has become a confidence issue. Thanks for any advice you may have.

    Reply
    • Malia

      Hi Haylee,

      Your family sounds amazing! I can only imagine that your super hero boys and beautiful 7 year old bring a smile to your face all day long.

      Re: helping your girl gain reading confidence. A couple of thoughts come to mind-

      1. She may still be struggling with letter sounds. Do you have a set of alphabet flashcards lying around? If not, write down all 26 letters in random order on a piece of paper. Then ask her to name all of the letters and give you their sounds. Once you know the letters that are still tricky, you can teach them to her using any of the games listed under “Fun with Letters” at this link: https://www.playdoughtoplato.com/kindergarten-activities/

      2. Sometimes helping kids gain confidence can be as simple as making a few small tweaks. First, I like to remind kids that readers read PICTURES too. Pick up a wordless book like “Wave” or “Hug” and use the pictures to tell a story. For example, “I see the gorilla walking through the jungle by himself. I wonder where his parents are hiding. Hmmm… Oh, and I now I see him looking at two snakes hugging in a tree. The snakes look so happy hugging each other. Look at their smiles!” Kids are often blown away that they can read without sounding out a single letter.

      And second, I call my kids “readers” as often as I can. When we are walking to the car I’ll say, “Ok readers, please hop in!” Or when dinner is over, I’ll say, “Please take your plate to the sink, readers!” Sometimes just hearing someone else call them readers helps kids believe that they really can do it.

      I hope that helps! Please feel free to send me an email or post a comment any time. And if your daughter is still struggling after you try these ideas, I’m happy to brainstorm some next steps too. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Malia

      Reply
  3. Renee

    Hi,
    My name is Renee and I am a stay at home mum from Brisbane, QLD Australia.
    I have two beautiful daughters aged 7 and 4. My eldest is in Grade 2 and my youngest goes to Kindy 2 days a week. She will be starting Prep ( 1st year of school) next year.
    I love reading your activities and look forward to starting some of them with my youngest child to help her get ready for school. I am also a qualified child care assistant and am doing further study to become a group leader . These activities will really come in handy when I start back at work next year.
    Thanks !
    Renee

    Reply
    • Malia

      Hi Renee! Thank you so much for taking the time to introduce me to your family and tell me about your child care work. It’s always fun to learn more about readers.

      Australia is one of my favorite places on Earth. I’ve been there twice now and hope to return again when my boys are a little older.

      I’m sending a warm, long distance welcome your way!

      Talk to you soon,

      Malia

      Reply
  4. Danielle

    Hello ladies!

    I am a 20 year old, currently doing my apprenticeship as an ECE in Junior Kindergarten, Senior Kindergarten split class. I want to thank you guys so much for giving me a few ideas on different activities that would work with some of my more unique students, I honestly cannot thank you two enough for the hard work you both do. I would honestly love to have teachers like you for my children when they get to school. Because I would be confident that they would not only learn necessities but also grow as human beings.

    Thank you again,

    Danielle

    Reply
    • Malia

      Hi Danielle! Thank you so much for taking the time to introduce yourself. We’re thrilled to welcome another early childhood educator to Playdough to Plato and love knowing that the activities are helpful to you. Your students are incredibly lucky to have you!!

      Appreciatively,

      Malia

      Reply
  5. Jo-Anne

    Hi Malia- My name is Jo-Anne and teaching is my second career. I have been teaching in a large urban system since 2002 and have taught 2nd, Pre-K, 4th, K, 1st, and hopefully will be teaching Pre-K again next year. I have 3 college-aged and one who is already a teacher on her own. I love working with the young children, and love ideas that I have seen on your blog. I plan to work over the summer to plan out my lessons. I want to make them fun, creative, hands on, and developmentally appropriate.
    Thank you for sharing your great ideas!

    Reply
  6. Joy

    Thank you for the vet printables. I too am allergic to animals but have a daughter that is dog crazy. I must say at first I wondered if you homeschool when I because where being inventive and excited about seeing your childrens light bulbs going off. I do homeschool and was once an art teacher and art therapist. It is great you have such love for what you do.
    Good Luck

    Reply
    • Malia

      I’m excited to hear that the vet printables will come in handy, Joy!! Thanks for saying “hello”.

      Reply
  7. Danielle

    Hi Ladies,
    I am a 30-something mama, to a smart and handsome 5 year old boy. This year we started our home school pre-k. We were just getting our feet wet with the home schooling. I came across your blog and instantly loved the games and activities I was seeing for teaching. I immediately subscribed to your email! I am looking forward to trying out the games and incorporating some fun into our school work. Thank you for sharing your gift with us! Clearly you are blessed with an amazing talent!
    ~ Danielle

    Reply
    • Malia

      Hi Danielle,

      Thank you so much for taking the time to introduce yourself. Your son is lucky to have such a hands-on, involved mom.

      I’m thrilled that Playdough to Plato’s activities have been useful! Please let us know if you ever need help brainstorming ways to teach a specific skill. We always love helping our homeschooling mamas. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Talk to you soon,

      Malia

      Reply
  8. Valerie

    Hello everyone. I am a mama to two awesome sons one just graduated from Cal Poly Univ. with his BS in business and marketing which comes in handy for me advertising my preschool, lol. My other is still in college studying to be a Early Educator. Married for 26 years to my soul mate. I own and operate a Pre-K/Daycare facility in sunny Cali.. I have been teaching now for 25 years. I was so excited to find your site. I have been in such a rut the last year. You have just rejuvenated My brain and gave me the kick start I so needed. Can’t wait to implement so many of your ideas into my new program. You are a true blessing. I attached my link to my website but it is still in the works no words yet. Should be fully finished by the end of july. Thank you. God Bless.

    Reply
  9. Tara

    Hi Malia!
    I am a mama to a beautiful and smart almost-4-yr-old, and am excited to make more use of your site! It looks like a great way to teach young ones in a fun and “non-school” kinda way ๐Ÿ™‚ Just what my daughter would gravitate toward, as I’ve tried teaching her things in a more structured way at one point and she totally didn’t take to it, whereas learning through play and hands-on activities do wonderful things for children! Thank you for sharing your love for teaching and creativity with the rest of us! ๐Ÿ™‚

    Reply
    • Malia

      Hi Tara!! I’m so excited to read that Playdough to Plato’s activities will be a hit with your daughter. Thank you for taking the time to introduce yourself and please let me know if any questions ever pop up along the way. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Reply
  10. Trudy van der Waardt

    Hello, i am a dutch mother with 2 kids. Resantly i lost my daughter. She was only 20 years old. I am a teatcher and my children in the class are 4, 5, 6 years old. Sorry, my english isn’t so good.
    I like your site. Thanks for sharing it with us.

    Reply

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