Thursday, May 19, 2011

I'll be off line for awhile

My computer is dysfunctional at the moment, with a "bug", and so I'll not be writing posts for abit, so I'm taking lots of photos, reading lots, and enjoying our great spring weather.

I hope to be back soon.
Until then,

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

A Fine Mess, and also Geo Boards

Today was just one of my favourite kinds of days in our room - busy, funny and filled with happy moments.

We've been spending up to one hour outside mornings, and even though the temperature is abit cooler, and the sky has been overcast, we're loving the opportunity to run, climb, dig, and explore nature.

But this afternoon we decided to stay inside. The children had loads of fun just hanging out together, and as usually older children join us in the afternoon, we had a nice mix of ages.There was nothing particularly creative out, we just used whatever was on hand.

I thought it would be fun to take some pictures of our "fine mess".

A little bit of everything - a climbing block, a dress, building manipulatives, a shoe, a pig, some foam blocks.

More foam climbing blocks (we rotate these from room to room, it's our turn this week, and the children have been using them in many ways)

I had brought some larger plastic animals from home this week, and the children are enjoying these. (A horse, a sheep, shoes.)

Two children had enjoyed building towers here.

Someone was busy here.

The Beauty Shop

I have posted other pictures of our room, but they showed a relatively tidy floorspace. This is more what our room really looks like when we're busy playing.

The first daycare center I worked at as a permanent employee, was a wonderful, safe, creative place. However, we were finicky about "mess" - at center time each child would take a  "mat" (a rug sample of about 2x3ft.), and would be required to stay on this mat with their box of say Lego, or train, or puzzle or whatever. The children were encouraged to always stay on the mat, and not to play with others. I would find myself allowing the car children to start interacting with the block children for instance, but it was frowned upon. I'm so glad those days are over, and I can allow my children  to construct a "fine mess".

Melissa, at The Chocolate Muffin Tree had a great post, today on a box guitar she and her daughter created, and as well "snap" painting. It put me in mind of geo boards, so thought I'd post a picture of these here. I'll have to purchase new elastics soon, and put these out.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

I Have a Box

For some time now I've struggled with a small segment of my morning routine - how to clean up from lunch; rearrange the room quickly to make space for cots; change diapers; help children with their toileting; put out sleep cots and as well have something for the children to do while all this is going on, so that the floor space stays clear, ie. no toys out if at all possible because I need floor space for the cots. :) I have really adequate time for this, but sometimes end up abit flustered. I have from the end of eating (approx. 12:00 to about 12:20.)

In the past other teachers have used movie time to keep the children entertained - but I don't plan to do this, I don't believe daycare is a place for t.v.

Other years, my children have just been possibly abit older or a different kind of group, and were content to take out a book, while I ran about in a blur of activity.

This year my children aren't content to sit with a book, they want to play, and move.And truly I don't want to make "book time", as a punishment. (Although I have twice heard myself say "That's ENOUGH, now STOP running. SIT down now, and LOOK at your book!) This comes when I'm feeling stressed, or feeling behind.

(For a good discussion of why not to use books as "punishment" of sorts, and also why  "silent
 reading" with young children isn't really developmentally attainable check out Lisa Murphy's book, Play.)

After talking this through with a woman who is acting as a consultant to our center, I came up with a special box, for just this period of day filled with some relaxing, sensory and other kind of activities.

I've been experimenting with what objecs will both invite the children to use the box, and as well provide a quick cleanup.

Here's the box

 I covered the box with shiny gold sticker paper we had donated from a parent, added a picture of children involved in meditating, and on the other side a cute dog picture.

Inside we have small baskets with manipulative objects such as rocks, plastic bugs, finger puppets; some photo albums' a "finger piano"; and a few other things.    


So far, I'm not happy with my box, the little baskets are a bit difficult for my children to open, and there is also some competitiveness to have one or two favourite items.And at the end we tend to quickly throw everything in, requiring me to reorganzie for the next day.I also have 4 "squishy" balls which are meant as stress balls so to speak, but really the children want to throw them.

It seems I still haven't found the right mix of things for inside the box, or the box is not the answer to my problem..

I'm wondering if anyone out  there may have some suggestions for me?

Monday, May 9, 2011

Lisa Murphy, A Bright Shining Star, or Why I Love her book PLAY: The Foundation that Supports the House of Higher Learning

I have just finished reading Play: The Foundation that Supports the House of Higher Learning, by Lisa Murphy. It's enjoyable reading, and provides the reasons for providing play based learning for young children - such valuable reading for parents and educators.

 Lisa's personality shines through the book, and it is apparent that she has definitely "walked the walk", knowing how it is to work on the floor - as well as providing illumination about what kids need to grow and learn within daycare and preschool environments.

Well, bother!
I've just spent over an hour trying to write an interesting review of this book, and really can't do justice to it (at this moment in time anyways!)

So instead, here are two videos of Lisa - aka The Ooey Gooey Lady, I hope you'll enjoy her spirit, and decide to read her book! The book is well written, and excellent food for thought!

  Well just beautiful! I love it! Hope you did to, and look up more of her work!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Two sensory ideas

Our center purchased several plastic containers with lids, as portable sensory stations for material such as rice, dirt, sand. moon sand, etc. As well we've been enjoying using them for shaving cream fun; cornstarch goop; clean mud, made with shavings of ivory soap and paper (from the Ooey Gooey Lady's recipes).

I have rice in this one with various toys for scooping and filling. My children enjoy this, although the rice does get out on the floor, more so than with a deeper sensory table. And so out come the small brooms and dustpans. The children have become pretty good at sweeping, and I think it's part of the fun!

I created the container below from an ice cream pail. I just cut a circle out from the side large enough for a hand to fit, and then sewed a sock to it. Then you just need to place various objects in the pail, close the lid, and allow the children to reach in and feel the objects. I have always found the children love this activity.I borrowed this idea from my assistant director who I worked with for 16 years. She had all kinds of wonderful homemade ideas.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

We've been busy...

Two weeks ago my children had started a Mother's Day project. We'd painted clay flower pots, and planted marigold seeds. Because we're a little behind they might not go home right for Mother's Day.

This week we planned to make "lady bug" shakers using paper plates. So we had fun painting the plates Monday, and today glued our spots on. However I decided the plates had become a bit floppy and maybe might not stand up to being turned into shakers.

I suggested to the children giving them to Mom for Mother's Day, and this seems like a good idea to every one. I thought it might be nice to glue a  "poem" to the back - "I love you more than the spots on all the ladybugs in the world" or something like this. I'll get the children to help me with the wording for this. I'm sure their version will be better and more meaningful.


After our glueing project, we headed outside for some great play. And really there are tons of ladybugs out at this time of year - a true childhood favourite I think. 

In the afternoon, it was time to move in some mats, which our center rotates weekly. Sometimes it is a challenge to make room for the mats, but I decided to try moving shelves diagonally for a more fun feel.

I also decided to store 3 of the mats, and use just one - I usually feel "less is more", when it comes to stress free and relaxing early childhood environments.

This block shelf is close to the mats, as I found the children wanting to use the foam ones on the mat.

Today, I also added a "beauty shop" and the diagonal set up created a nice little spot for this play.
I haven't put the room in this way before, I tend to like more "blocky", straight arrangements, but I like this - it creates an inviting feel I think. The children seemed to respond well to this - and really enjoyed having a few new play ideas.It's amazing what some tweaking can do to the whole atmosphere of a room, and I think how the children play

We've had this wonderful refrigerator box for about a month now, and just moving it to a new spot, allowed the children to use it in a new way.One of our parents donated to us some great sticker paper in rolls. And we have been decorating the box, now and then. A co-worker added the letters one day. :)

Some of our ladybugs.

I thought this would be fun to post. I enjoyed rearranging abit, and the inviting effect, and the immediate change in the play and mood of my children.