Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Mud Drawings

During the first thaw, our playground had various spots of "perfect" mud.  We squished our feet into it and the children learned about suction.  One of the children used a stick to pick up the mud and asked "could I draw on the wall with it?"..."Give it a try" said I.

Try mud drawing or painting on various outdoor surfaces or bring the mud indoors and set some out at the art table.  You may also like to try setting out black earth, sand and water in the science area and give the children an opportunity to create their own perfect mud concoction.
Have fun getting muddy!!!

Until You Read Again....

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Teaching Resilience

When a child comes to you with a problem or challenge they are facing, how do you handle it?  Do you immediately solve it for them?  Do you give them some time to think it out?  Do you brush it off with an 'I don't know'?
We all face problems and challenges in our lives, children are no different.  It is how we role model and empower them to overcome these stressors that teach them the skills they need to become resilient and optimistic. 
"One of the key abilities associated with resilience is
problem solving. Learning problem-solving skills is a
significant contributor to children’s socio-emotional wellbeing."
 All aspects of a childcare environment can promote the children's thinking and reasoning, cause and effect skills, and emotional response. So how do we incorporate problem solving into our daily routine?  Through activities like playdough, block building, sand and water play.  Also, by asking children questions you help them get to the root of the problem;  "why do you think that happened?" or "what will you do to fix that?".  There is always going to be the child who says "I don't know" so be ready with open-ended questions that will guide them to an answer. And don't feel shy about talking your own dilemmas out loud..."how am I going to get this paper work done in time?", "where can I get some ideas for art?", "that made me so frustrated, I'm going to sit down and take some deep breaths".

The learning program called "Reaching In...Reaching Out" is one that out team did and have benefited greatly from.  It teaches the adult to teach themselves to be resilient and then shows how we can empower the children to do the same.  You can find the program and some very helpful articles at their website:
Reaching In...Reaching Out

Until You Read Again....

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Learning Oragami

I had in my binder of  "to try/to do", a tutorial on origami boxes. We had done some basic origami in the past and thought we'd move on to something a bit more challenging.  I set out all the necessary items and a group of children gathered round to give this a try.   We measured and cut the size of paper we'd need, began the first few folds and things were going smooth until we got to the folding it into a box shape.  We tried, re-tried (lost a couple participants at this point) and finally made our own folds to finally make the box come together.

I always encourage the children to face a challenging task. Whether it means tackling it to the end or taking a breather and coming back to finish before the end of they day, it gives them the ability to build their thinking & reasoning skills and to learn about how to cope with a stressful situation.
They were very proud of their accomplishment! 
We'll keep practicing :)

Until You Read Again....

Baking Club

A couple years ago I baked frequently with the children.  The larger the group became the further from the kitchen we ended up.  Our classroom is now at the opposite end of the school from the daycare; it has its pros & cons.  "Con":  we're far from the kitchen, "Pro's": we have our own space to work in, I now have a second staff with me...which means I can take a group to the kitchen.
Anywho, we were sitting around the snack table one afternoon eating maple cookies and one of the children spoke up "we should make our own cookies" and that's when I realized that YES, we can make our own cookies.  I called a team meeting the next day and had the children brainstorm some snack ideas.  They suggested everything from peabutter cookies to hard boiled eggs and from that "Baking Club" was formed. 
This upcoming week i'll be helping guide the children as they make Scones. 

Blueberry Flax Scones:
3 cups flour
1 1/2 Tbsp. baking powder
1/4 cup + 1 Tbsp. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 Tbsp. grated lemon zest
1/2 cup margarine (or butter)
1 egg
1/4 cup applesauce
1/3 cup milk
3/4 cup frozen blueberries
1/4 cup flax seed
Extras: parchment paper, pastry cutter, wax paper, rolling pin

To Make:
1)Preheat oven to 375F and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

2) Whisk together the flour, baking powder, sugar, cinnamon and lemon zest in a large bowl.  Cut in margarine with pastry cutter (or two butter knives); set aside.

3) In a small bowl, whisk together the egg, applesauce and milk until well combined. 

4) Make a well in the middle of dry ingredients and add the wet ingredients; stir with a spatula until a ball just begins to form (if too dry add another teaspoon of milk).  Fold in blueberries and flax.

5) Spread out a piece of wax paper.  Gather ball of dough in hands and plunk it onto the wax paper; add another piece of paper on top.  Use your hands to flatten the dough a little and then roll it to about a 2.5 cm (1 inch) thickness.

6) Bake 15-20 min's or until the scones are golden on the bottom.  (Optional: drizzle with confection. sugar icing)  Eat them with a little spread of jam or butter or enjoy them as they are :)

Until You Read Again.....

Monday, March 5, 2012

Flower Fairies

I've noticed lately that the children like everything in miniture.  I shuffled through my collection of craft books to see what they could make and whatdaya know....Flower Fairies!

Floral wire
Faux flowers and fauna
Wood beads
Embroidary thread
Pencil crayons or acryllic paint
Glue (I used hot glue)

To Make:
1. Cut a 14cm (6") piece of wire and a 7.5cm (3") piece of wire.  Bend the large wire in half and wrap the smaller wire around near the bend....this will form the arms and loop for the head.

2. Use embroidary thread to wrap the arms and torso to create a bodice or shirt.  Secure the thread at the back with a tiny knot or dab of glue.
*Note:  if you're not using hot glue you may have to wait in between steps until glue dries*

3. Pull apart faux flowers, mix and match to make an outfit.  Slip the petals over the "legs" to make dresses, skirts, pants, etc.  Add a dab of glue to the underside so the petals don't fall off. 

4. Bend ends of wire into loops to form hands and feet.  Add facial features to the bead and use the thread to make a can also paint on hair!  Add a dab of glue to the inside of the bead and firmly attach to the head loop. At this point you can also add hats and wings or other extras you imagine up!

5.  Challenge: How many combinations can you make?  What other floral friends can you create?

Until You Read Again.....

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Our Latest Craze

After one of the children showed interest in learning how to knit (like her mom) I began searching for ideas to teach the basis.  I remembered from college one of our prof's showing us how to finger knit, however, that was 10 years ago so I needed a refresher.  I found this great tutorial that was easy for the children (and myself) to follow.

How to Finger Knit

Hope you have as much fun as we've had!

Until You Read Again....

Time + Life + Work

I could make many excuses as to why i've neglected to keep this up to date, but I won't.  I'll apologize humbly and carry on sharing the experiences and ideas I've gained in the last few months!