Friday, April 29, 2011

It was Friday

Today was the last day of a somewhat quiet week as some families were away for spring break. Our groupings for the week tended to be mixed ages which is always nice. I enjoy seeing the older children, they always have new play ideas, which helps build the play of my younger ones. As well some of the older children started their daycare experience out in my room as 2 year olds, and it's great to see that they like coming back. We had great weather over the week, and spent lots of time outdoors.

Indoors  our schedule was pretty relaxed. I think the children enjoyed having extra one on one time with me, and smaller numbers of children allowed for abit more involved play for longer periods of time.

These two photos don't do justice to the actual fun we had,  they just show abit of  how things looked during one part of the morning. Often my children have what to the outside might be called a "mess" developing in our room, but to them it has meaning and purpose. It's always great to see when children use materials in creative ways, using blocks and figurines, and baby blankets together for instance. The pictures above show a fairly empty floor space, but more often it is simply covered with cars, pegs, plastic food, dishes, dolls, stuffed toys - you name it. An older friend of mine used to say that a tidy house was the sign of  an unhappy house  - that if you were raising children the house should be messy. I thinks she's right. Mess means kids are busy constructing and learning.

  I added these signs and some large plastic waffle blocks with the cars today. And the children just were really thrilled with these - I hadn't added many new things lately, and although this was pretty simple they loved it. I'm interested to see what else will develop here.

We also started planting our marigolds, in the pots we'd painted some time ago. These flowers were a project for Mother's Day, but we might need to give them more time to grow before sending them home, as we're behind. We have an indoor greenhouse at our center, and the other groups will soon be bringing their plantings to join with ours to catch the great sun from the front window.
Today we stayed indoors for the afternoon as the weather became quite nasty,  with strong winds and much cooler temperature, and I'm wondering about the possibility of snow.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

A Wonderful Day to do some Spring cleaning


Today, because our enrollment was low due to spring break, I was assigned to clean our deck. So I didn't work with my group, and spent the whole day in the fresh air, washing everything down to get the winter's grime off, and get the deck ready to be an outdoor play space. We're very lucky to have this, and it was enjoyable to just do some physical work, and enjoy the warm day. I missed my children, and will enjoy them more tomorrow for this!

So here's some paint blots we made earlier in April. We decided they looked like butterflies.

I hope you are also enjoying some sun and spring weather where you are!

Monday, April 25, 2011

A Few Photos of our Room at the Daycare

At our daycare center, each group has it's own room, and so each teacher tries to provide as much as possible  to meet the developmental needs of their children in one room. We rotate toys, and pieces of furniture, so that we don't always have housekeeping, as an example, but may still offer another sort of dramatic play. We don't always get everything in but we do a pretty good job of meeting our group's interests and needs.

So since I've got a new camera I took some photos today. They're not of the best quality, but give some idea of our space.

A view of the whole room.

We created coffee filter art with q-tips and food colouring.
Door stars from India. When someone enters the room they will bring in only positive feelings, and thoughts. :) The children refer to them as twinkle stars.

This is a new piece of furniture for dress up clothes.
Kitchen Area

We enjoyed making these Rice I Spy Bottles with pom poms

I provide lots of labels with photos on my shelves to help my children with clean up.
Here in the block area we have a pattern for stacking blocks.

We made these birds with origami paper and glue. I borrowed the idea from Melissa at The Chocolate Muffin Tree, and her potato print birds.
A parent picked this refrigerator box up for us, and we love it.
This origami bird was made by a university arts student, who created 1000 cranes for Japan. She donated her proceedings through the
Red Cross. I hung this in our room and I plan to do some origami with my children next month.
This is art we created with the tops of pop bottles, and tissue paper. They look nice hanging in the sunlight, I think. My children LOVE creating with glue.
We spent several sessions snipping yarn, and straw to make a nest building station for birds.
Then we hung the nest building station outside. We check lots to see if birds are helping themselves to the material. So far we haven't observed this. I'm not sure if this will work.
We have three large windows in our room, which makes for good light.
A view of the reading corner. I really love this wooden bench, and the children do too.

We made these baskets from yogourt containers, and used them to take home our coloured eggs.
Our center recently purchased one visual timer for each group. They are helpful to help the kids see the time pass, it reminds me of the old sand timers, in a way.

Just a last whole view of our room.

Hope you might have enjoyed this. It's great to have a chance to share some photos!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

A New Camera

I've been able to purchase a digital camera, this weekend, and so have been enjoying learning it's ins and outs.

I'm really looking forward to taking some pictures of my children's art work, and of our environment to post here.

The picture I've posted here at the side, is of me and a childhood friend. I was glad to be able to take it so clearly with my camera. I can tell I'm going to love having this camera!

P.S. I'm the child on the right. (The one who looks abit opinionated.) :)

Conviction of the heart - Kenny Loggins Video

I've enjoyed the music of Kenny Loggins ever since purchasing his cd for children, Pooh Corners. I find this cd has a very soothing quality to it, which allows my children in daycare to drift comfortably off to sleep, at naptime.

So today I just thought I might search for a song to post, and found this one. This video was apparently created by two children for a school project. It's abit dated but it's message is appropriate for Earth Day. (A couple days late) :)

Click on the link below if you'd like to view and listen.

Wishing you a good day.

Conviction of the heart - Kenny Loggins Video

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Colouring our eggs and preparing nest building materials for birds

The last few days I've been graced with having two older children join my group, temporarily as their teacher has been busy doing other things.

I enjoy the chance to reconnect with children I don't see often, and the older children usually love helping out the little ones.

Today I and the two older ones enjoyed getting our bird nest building station fuinished as we snipped more pieces of yarn and straw. We still haven't got it out yet, but hopefully tomorrow we'll hang it on a tree from which we can observe from our windows.

We coloured our hard cooked eggs with regular food colouring - most using two colours which created a very pretty effect. They did look very pretty set in the egg baskets we created yesterday. We have been playing in a sensory table filled with shredded blue and red paper, and plastic eggs, and various little toys. So we used some of this shredded paper for our "easter grass"

P.S. Origami cranes:
An art student at the university created a fundraiser for the Red Cross to assist Japan. She made 1000 paper cranes, and put them on display at a coffee house in our city. I was able to have one for a donation, and now have it hanging in my daycare room. In May I hope to have my children make some version of these cranes.
I hope soon to post a picture of this lovely crane. I found her effort inspirational, and was so glad to see this.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

A Busy, Happy Day

Well we had a great morning  working on Easter egg baskets. These we made from yogourt containers. I saved some from the Yoplait brand, as they have a nice curved shape, and are made from a plastic that has abit of a matte finish, so I thought they'd work well for painting. I cut them down for my children, and then cut small snips all along the edge, which then I bent down,(like grass), and used a thin strip of the leftover plastic for a handle.

We used acrylic paint, and the kids enjoyed this alot. Interestingly I find that my children always paint the inside of containers, before the outside. And sometimes they aren't as interested in painting the outside.

When we colour an egg each, they'll then have a small basket to take their egg home in.

I'm really hoping to buy a camera soon, and start posting some of our art work. My son says once I get a camera, there will be no stopping me.  :)

This little project will do for our Earth Day art, as we recycled the yogourt containers quite nicely. And on Thursday, we'll plant our marigold seeds in the plant pots we painted last week, which I think will be another good way to celebrate Earth Day.

This afternoon, after nap, snack, and abit of indoor play, we headed outside. The sand is nice and wet with all the snow we had yesterday, and the children are rediscovering the satisfaction of sitting in the sandbox and digging - filling pails, and making sandcastles.Our hearts are growing lighter as we play outside in the sun, and the marvelous, changing spring weather every day.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Just a chatty little Update

Here in Saskatchewan our weather has been fluctuating between spring and winter conditions.
We've played outside every day, and the children were so surprised on Monday to find that most of the puddles had disappeared in the play yard.Yesterday evening and through the night we received a great dumping of wet, fluffy snow.

We've been thinking about birds, and one day spent about an hour just snipping yarn into about 2 inch lengths, which we'll hang from a tree in a basket to provide some extra nesting materials for the birds.I've done this many times over the years, but usually we spread the yarn snips on the ground. Marcia at Child in Harmony suggests placing the yarn in a basket, so we'll do this, as it will be a better way to observe any activity, I think.(I believe this may be a Ukrainian custom - it was passed on to me by a daycare grandmother, of Ukrainian heritage.)

I like to have my children give their mother's a small plant for Mother's Day, so that means planting a few weeks ahead. So this week in preparation, each child painted a clay plant pot, and next week we'll plant a marigold seed. I like these as they usually come up quick, and grow into quite sturdy little plants by Mother's Day. One year, one mother set hers in their green house and it grew into a gorgeous, large plant just loaded with blossoms.I buy inexpensive red clay pots, with saucers, and we use acrylic paint, and they always turn out beautifully.

We enjoyed paint blot painting as well this week - and thought they looked like butterflies

I have a new little boy in my group, and he is a toddler aged child.His mom has been able to spend mornings with him, taking him home after lunch. This is such a nice way for him to get oriented to being at daycare.The
last two days of the week she left him with us, to give him the experience of being away from Mom for just a short time, and it was hard for him - he cried, but learned that daycare is okay, and Mom does come back. An added challenge for him is that he has no English, his family speak another language at home, but smiles, hugs, and friendship are part of a universal language!

Really I think his entering our group has helped the children grow in understanding, and empathy, and has been very positive. So now I have an age range from 2 years to 3 - which I think will possibly result in a gentler ambiance to our group.

I've immediately started to get back to basics -  we will have small circles, and sing the old favourites of "Where is Thumbkin"; "Tommy Thumb";  "Twinkle, Twinkle"; "Old MacDonald"; "The Wheels on the Bus"...and I went to the library, and borrowed a stack of easy board books. There is a lovely series with nursery rhymes - "I'm a Little Teapot", "Humpty Dumpty"; "Wee Willie Winkie"; "Row Row your Boat", etc. and these are always well loved by children of all ages.With my new little guy simple and fun may help with his English language learning.

Getting back to basics has just been a whole lot of fun for me, I think I was getting away from some of the fun with some of the new ideas we in our province are incorporating, with "free, child directed" play, and not as much structure. This is valuable, and important, to be sure to provide large periods of child directed play, but the children also love singing the old songs, so I plan to unapologetically do a structured music circle every day - especially for my new child's benefit.I can't wait to get singing and playing circle games again like "Rig Jig Jig"; "We're going to Kentucky", "I'm Being eaten by a Boa Constrictor"; "What can you do Punchinello"; and "One Little Elephant Balancing", to name a few of my favourites.

This week I taught my group a silly way to do Humpty Dumpty which they loved, we sat with our knees akimbo holding onto our feet and rocked ourselves sideways for "Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall", and then fell backwards (making sure each child would have a safe landing spot) :), and kicked our feet in the air for "Humpty Dumpty had a great FALL ..." Lots of fun! (The kids always seem amazed that I do this.)

This week we also had our first outing in months, (as the weather has been very uncooperative this winter), so we just walked to an enclosed green space nearby, and played chasing bubbles, and as well running with streamers. Simple but oh so much fun! The temperature was still pretty cold  -2 degrees, and we wore our snowsuits, and mitts, and everyone ended up with rosy cheeks, and happy smiles.It's just so great to have a change of scene if only just a short distance away.We are lucky to be a cooperative daycare, and so parents commit to helping 2 hours per month, and I had two parent helpers with me, which is always nice!

As I look out my window the snow is falling steadily down, and three large robins appear to be gathering materials for nest building. This is just so Saskatchewan!
Happy Spring everyone!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Singing with and to Children

I love the effect I create when I sing to a small child who may be frightened or upset - I will notice a bit of a surprise, followed by abit of a smile, which will usually lead to big smiles. I'm usually pretty sure singing will help, sometimes only in that I've surprised the child, and helped the child stop for a moment. I think singing can be a good means of relieving stress.

Recently Geraldine, at her blog Take a Happy Break, (you can find her on my blog list), wrote a very good post on the benefits of singing - which I found so interesting.You may like to look there and read further on an article she provides as a link, on the health benefits of singing.

 In early childhood education singing, traditionally holds an important place. Music circles and singing to indicate transitions have been used for years. My sense is that we are getting away from lengthy music circles, which may be a good thing, as young children really are not meant for sitting still for long circle times - ( it's really difficult for most children). However, then it seems that our children will miss out on a chance to learn the old and new children's songs, so maybe as well as playing Cd's of music, we could sing for children while they are playing now and then.

I sing my children now and then through transitions such as "A- is putting her boots on, hi ho hi ho hi ho; J- is buttoning up her coat, hi ho hi ho hi ho; now G is putting on his hat..." My children enjoy this, although it may seem corny - and sometimes they also see the humorous side to my singing as well.This in itself can be a stress reliever. :) I don't always sing - I really think it could be tiresome all the time, sometimes it's just good to get ready in quiet and think our own thoughts.

However especially in times of stress I think singing can help. One of my most vivid childhood memories comes from my childhood dentist, who sang to me while he worked. I really appreciated this as I was afraid of going to the dentist, but always relaxed when he sang - and I never forget this.I think I was so fortunate to have such a sensitive, nice dentist. So remembering this I do it for my children, whenever I can.

Children also sing while they play I find, and so it is nice if they do have abit of a repetoire to sing from, although they also are good at making up their own songs!

I may write abit more this week on music and singing - just wanted to start with this little reflection.

Friday, April 8, 2011

More Springtime fun

Yesterday morning we found that our puddles had frozen over once again, and the children enjoyed the lines created by the ice. Interestingly we found that when cracked the ice more often than not formed circles. These circles shattered in intricate, quite pretty lines, (sort of like mandalas created by nature). The children also found a ladybug under the ice, as well as leaves, twigs and rocks - one child with wonder in his voice wondered if one longish twig was a snake. I love the ability of small children to wonder.

Some of us also found that the water lying under the ice could be fairly deep, and icy cold. :) And then how good to go inside and  remove those wet socks, and pull on comfy, warm and dry socks.

This was the sum of our outdoor play - simple, but you never know what children will take fom something that may seem quite ordinary to adults.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

A Painting Project and Having Fun in Puddles

Today we were busy, finishing a painting project, playing in our large refrigerator box, and playing and getting wet in puddles.

Yesterday, we had used potato printing to create some birds, following Melissa at  The Chocolate Muffin Tree's,  idea from several weeks ago. First we sang an improvisation on the children's song "Five Little Chickadees", using toy birds of various kinds - so it was a robin, crow, brown bird, striped bird, and a chickadee who "flew away home".My toy birds are marvelous toys - they look and sing like each actual kind of bird - robin, wren, nuthatch, crow, owl, etc. I've had them for several years, and they have always been a favourite toy.

The birds are slowly returning here in Saskatchewan, and I have sighted crows, blackbirds and seagulls. (We have Canada Geese that winter here - but they are flying overhead and becoming more active with the warmer weather). I told the children I had seen a crow that morning on the way to daycare.

The children enjoyed the potato printing, and most spread the paint with the potato creating splashes of colour. It was alot of messy fun - which is usually the best fun!

Today I provided feathers, eyes, paper triangles, and straw, and yarn, and the children created wonderful collages onto their paintings. Later in their play I overheard quite a bit of talk about nest building, and birds' eggs - I love children's ability to take something learned and turn it into play

Outside we found our play yard had developed several large puddles, and the children scooped with shovels, floated boats, as  well as learning what wouldn't float, found a dead ladybug from last year, saw a wonderful squirrel, and we heard the "caw cawing" of crows. One of my children pointed this out to me with excitement in her eyes - the crows are cawing!

I am just so glad spring is arriving!

I hope you are enjoying spring too!


Monday, April 4, 2011

Enjoying the start of Spring

Spring is arriving slowly here in Saskatchewan. The temperature rises abit to cause melting of snow, and then goes down again for a few days. This creates days of differing character, with lots of variety.

This morning our play yard was quite icy, with areas of dirt, leaves and sand showing through.

The children found several puddles which had just a thin ice cover, and this was so much fun to stand on and hear the crackling.

One lovely, magical area, was a sand play area, surrounding one tree, and the ice had frozen over thick and clear, allowing us to look down on small leaves, twigs, and maple seeds. Art created by nature as only nature can!

I've been following several very wonderful and creative blogs over the past two months, and subtly have noticed my teaching change and grow.As an example, this morning I felt just content to allow my children to discover what they might in the play yard, and what nature had provided, rather than pointing things out to them.

Stepping back, rather than overtly teaching.

A way of giving the children the time to make their own discoveries, of honouring their view of their world

Off and on over the past two weeks we've stayed indoors, due to high wind, or overly icy walks, and so have also been busy with art, and I used several ideas I've read about from so many wonderful, creative people in the blogging world.

- we made several rice "I spy" bottles (using pom poms and white rice), and they were fun to make and also to play with;

- we made coffee filter art (using food colouring and q-tips, because I couldn't find eye droppers), and we put them up on the window where they look glorious,  (this was fun to do, and the q-tips worked fine);

- we made birds using the shapes from Melissa at The Chocolate Muffin Tree. We used pretty, origami paper in pastel Japanese prints instead of printing with paint, and I put them on a brown construction paper tree shape on another window, where they look like a bit of Spring, (I'd planned on doing some origami, but we haven't got into that yet;

Other activities we've been into are making flubber, with a recipe from Lisa Murphy the Ooey Gooey lady, it is interesting to make as the children see the result of the borax forming the white glue and water into a blog, so instantaneously - science and creative fun mixed up into one. My children are enjoying flubber as an alternitive to play dough for the past 2 weeks. (Although they have the play dough as well.)

And one of our parents picked up for us a LARGE refrigerator box - which is just so much fun. Presently I have it flat on the long side so that the kids can all fit in together. But soon I'll turn it up and cut a door in one side, so that it can be a small quiet place for 1 or 2 children. We've started decorating the house with small rectangles of wonderful glittery sticker paper. One of my parents donated a box filled with rolls of this paper in beautiful colours - such a treasure, the children enjoy the process of peeling the sticker from the backing for each small piece, and then placing their rectangle just so on our  box.

Well, that's it for now although I know I'm forgetting to mention other activiites.

I do know that my work with my children is richer for my time reading the posts of so many creative, and generous people - both on the ouside and inside.Change often happens slowly, incrementally - and sometimes without us noticing I think. A little like Spring in Saskatchewan!