Saturday, January 28, 2012

Bubble wrap printmaking - with rolling pins!

I've been enjoying introducing various art activities to my new group of children this week - we've done collage, and easel painting, and as well enjoyed painting on bubble wrap, and printmaking.

I've done painting on bubble wrap with children in the past, and had the children apply the paint with their hands, to make it a fingerpainting activity. However, I felt I might have the children use paintbrushs this time, as I sensed some of the children in this group, might have a problem with the paint on their hands. As well, my time was abit limited so I also thought using paintbrushes might help make cleanup abit faster. :)  

I found the wonderful idea of using rolling pins to smooth paper over the bubble wrap, at Learning for Life. As Kierna said, the popping of the bubbles is a great sensory experience, AND the whole process is therapeutic. I tried it and loved it!  My children loved using the rolling pins, and I  know I will use this again
and again.

I brought these rolling pins from home, and the bottom one was my mother's so it is at least 56 years old, I think. I know she would be happy to have it provide enjoyment for children. I don't make pie too often at home, and will just need to buy a new one for home, because these are staying where we can make good use of them!

My children were delighted with their finished print! I am sure that they will continue to enjoy printmaking, and we'll think up new ways to make prints in the coming weeks.

The next day, I had a visit with some of the older "veterans" of my group and room, children who had spent approximately a year with me...and I always enjoy seeing them revisit the old toys, and items which they recall from their time. It always feels to me like they are visiting a beloved  time in their lives, which makes me feel so happy, and rewarded.

Two boys put their heads together to fashion a bed for the two black cats.  The two black cats have been in the room for 3 years, and are often a favourite of certain children. Both of these children like playing with the cats when they visit me.I commented on the interesting "headboard", and was told "No it's a thing so the cats won't fall out of bed."

And isn't this interesting?!

I'm curious to see what the following week will bring us - hopefully lots of painting; sensory exploration; stories; songs; dancing; outdoors; and laughter.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Abit of what I've been up to, and a good video

One of the wonderful consequences I've found through blogging this past year, is the knowledge I've gained from reading other blogs.I've learned about places, people, and ideas I may never had the opportunity to encounter - and I am grateful for all the great things there are to learn in our world.

My work has become better, I know because of what I read and ponder, and sometimes use in my own way - and even more so for the connectedness with others who care about the education of young children. I  love meeting so many people with "like minds" when it comes to this work - because it provides encouragement to continue on. There is such great inspiration to be had through blogging!!
Herbert, who likes to co-author with me

I was surprised to see that I've been writing on this blog for just about 1 year now. I started posting  in February 2011. My son, Paul helped set  me up, which was kind and generous of  him. One of  my feline companion, Herbert assists me by lying on my right wrist while I type (all 15 lbs, of him). :) Arthur, the younger cat chooses to sleep elsewhere, or keep busy with his various toys.

Arthur who would rather play

January, this year has been a good month, at the daycare center where I work, and a challenging one. We changed over our groupings from groups by age to "family" multi-aged groupings. I didn't realize I would miss my little 2 year olds quite so much, but slowly I feel that the group of children I do have are coming together. I now have a toddler aged child, two 2 1/2 year olds, and several 4 year olds.
This picture was taken in late November. We now have abit more snow, but not much!

My group of nine children includes 4 children who have varying special needs.Although I can call the director in for assistance when needed, I am working alone with this group until various assessments are done, and then if the center receives grants for their care, we may be able to hire help for me.

Some days are abit hard at times, as there are some aggressive behaviors, and my heart hurts when children are hit or scratched, and begin not wanting to be in the room.

However, in the past three weeks I think some progress is being made, and hopefully all will work out. I am  using learning stories as a tool for teaching about behavior. A wonderful consultant came out and showed me how to use this tool. As well I found an old book called "If you're angry and you know it..." put out by Scholastic Books (I'm sorry I don't remember the author's name). This book uses the well know song, to provide some suggestions of what you can do with angry feelings, and EVERYONE is interested in this - I think could read it several times a day, and have an audience. As well the children are choosing it to look at it on their own throughout the day.

I have noticed that alot of art activities aren't happening, as I find my new special needs children love to "just"  play. There is more work to routines, which takes up a good portion of our time - but this is valuable and essential work as well.

We started easel painting this week, and every day that we do one art activity or story time, is a learning that we will build on, and I'll just continue gradually doing new things.

In time I and my children will be over the initial adjustment to one another - and I think I'll feel new energy, especially as spring certainly isn't far away.

I haven't written here often, this month, but am still reading and enjoying blogs - and thinking, learning and pondering....

I learned about the following speaker over at Tess Michaels' blog,  "Tessa Rose Natural Playspaces", and I enjoyed what he said, on a video Tess shared, so much that I looked him up on Google to learn more.

Sir Ken Robinson is an educator and writer. I have chosen another video from a Ted talk, and thought I would share it here. It is quite long, about 16 minutes, but I think he provides some good points.

Have a very good week!!  Thanks for reading! 

Friday, January 20, 2012

Two Hands, One Handed

Two Hands, One Handed:
I think you will find yourself smiling, after listening to this song posted by Matthew Vaughan, today on his video log, Rise Up Singing.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

I Got to see a real Star!

I think Lisa Murphy, also known as The Ooey Gooey lady is a bright shining star, and I have thought so ever since reading her book, "Play". And so I was so thrilled to be able to attend a full day of workshops this past Saturday, presented by The Ooey Gooey Lady.
Lisa graciously signed copies of her book throughout the day.

Four workshops were presented, and although the knowledge and ideas imparted were wonderful, I also loved the gems of wisdom sprinkled liberally throughout the day.

Lisa uses humour effortlessly. I believe that the reason her humour works so well is because she has "walked the walk" - she has worked in full day daycare, for 20 years, and so when she tells a story it rings true. My co-worker who was sitting beside me, said "She says what I might think, but wouldn't say".

However, her message IS serious - how we can best enhance and facilitate the learning of young children in our care.

In the workshop titled, "Many Kinds of Smart", Lisa presented on the theory of Multiple Intelligences (Dr. Howard Gardner). A recurring motif throughout the workshop was the advice to move out from our own comfort zones as early childhood educators, in order to meet the learning needs of each individual child. I loved this recommendation, and know that for me as an individual this means working on providing more science and sensory activities; and as well math related learning. I am personally most comfortable with the linguistic/verbal, and secondarily with music and so if I was to stay within my comfort zone, I would tell stories and dance to music all day with my children.(I do like providing sensory activities, and always have - I find that children seem to be become more focused and sometime will socialize more when playing in water, or goop of some kind. I think it's just the "idea" of science that scares me.)

"Fizzle Bubble Pop & WOW!!!"  may be one of the more well known of The Ooey Gooey Lady's workshops. I missed seeing this workshop, when she was in my city last year, but my co-workers just loved her science. I like the idea "that we are sciencing all the time", (Bev Bos as quoted by Lisa);  and this makes it seem less esoteric to me.

I work in a complex which houses two daycare centers of 45 children each, and on Monday and Tuesday following the workshop, everybody was trying out Lisa's "new and improved flubber recipe". :) One young woman I work with has been coaching us through flubber making for the past year, and we now seem to have got it down pat. We use plastic bowls and utensils, and she had found that reducing the amount of Borax would help make a smoother flubber. The last few batches of flubber I made were abit too hard, and this young woman brought some new Borax from home, and all our flubber has turned out lovely. (We have started calling our co-worker the "flubber master".) We have also all been blowing bubbles with the flubber, and I'm sure our children will be continuing to enjoy this on an ongoing basis.

There were just so many wonderful and awesome ideas, in the science workshop, and I can't wait to do them with my children -  I want to do the Film canister Pop; coffee filter science, and t-shirt science; and Cork Lift -off, and ....well you get the idea, I think.

"Oh, Those Little Ones!" offered  lots of valuable ideas for work with infants and toddlers. I really liked that many of her suggested activities were simple, and used everyday objects, rather than expensive toys or equipment.

Lisa's main teaching about the work with babies and infants was to be present and responsive, and that babies CAN form attachments to several people. Above all else babies need genuine, loving relationships with their caregivers. 

Lisa shows several ways to use masking tape, and recommends allowing children to use all kinds of tape. I liked the idea of a tape bracelet to attach found objects, and a line of tape (could use painters tape) along the wall, to "drive"cars on.

Some of the advice Lisa repeated throughout her workshops were "Keep it simple"; "Don't overthink it"; and as well "Calm down". One might almost say this could be a form of mantra - reminders, not to get caught up in over analyzing what we do; and as well to relax.

"Ten Little Hotdogs Fryin' in the WHAT? offered the reasons why we sing and use fingerplays, and we were able to sing along to several favourites.Fingerplays and singing can help reduce stress in young children AND adults, as well as help make transitions interesting and more fun.

In early childhood education we work to keep transitions to a minimum and a more natural part of the day, however singing about the next thing coming up is always a good practise. I personally love singing throughout my day, because I have always found it put my children at ease.I learned about this from my childhood dentist. I was fortunate to have a dentist who used gentle humour and sang as he worked on my teeth, and I never forgot the comfort I felt in his loving presence.

Lisa told the story of being a student, and having the assignment of teaching 100 songs to her classmates. She strongly recommends memorizing songs to have them to use readily as needed. :)

 In her daycare Lisa has a circle every morning, and she most often starts with a Good Morning Song - we sang one using our body parts - and here we were singing with our knee.

I just wish that I could do more justice here, to the experience of attending this workshop. Lisa puts so much energy and heart into her workshops because she believes and cares about her message. I heartily would recommend attending a workshop by The Ooey Gooey Lady, if you have the opportunity. She can also be seen on YouTube, and as well she has several excellent books available.

Our daycare center purchased all of her books last year after several of us, had been to her workshop. My personal favourite was "Play", for the philosophy, and  Lisa's persuasive, impassioned argument for quality, developmentally approriate early childhood education. The fact that we decided to buy her books and follow many of her ideas is indictative of Lisa's tremendous influence for positive change.

Our world is always made bigger and better when individuals stand up and speak up for the weak, and vulnerable. Thank you Lisa Murphy, aka The Ooey Gooey Lady, for your work which enhances the lives of people who work with young children, as well as the children.

My main sense about The Ooey Gooey Lady was that she is a person who is joyful about her work, and wants to share this joy. I found this quote which seemed to fit for her.  "Joy is the holy fire that keeps our purpose warm and our intelligence aglow."     Helen Keller

Thursday, January 5, 2012

We are having spectacular weather in Saskatchewan

We are having spectacular weather in Saskatchewan:
This snowman was made by some of the children at the daycare center where I work. We didn't have enough snow before Christmas for snowmen. :) Generally the temperature is too cold for snowmen in January.

In Saskatchewan, people tend to be serious when it comes to winter weather. We need to be, because our cold weather can be extreme and dangerous.Anyone who needs to drive long distances in the winter will carry blankets, matches, and other safety provisions, because if caught in a winter storm, it's necessary to stay in the car, and wait for help. Freezing to death in Saskatchewan winters, is a sad and not uncommon tragedy.

We tend to face the winter temperatures with gritty forbearance, and we all have our tales of severe weather experiences.

I can recall for you one personal winter experience which might allow you a sense of Saskatchen winter.

I left work one evening in February, 2006, for home. I hadn't been aware of the weather from inside the school library where I was working, and I left quite late. I waited for my bus home, for more than one and a half hours, in a temperature that I later learned was -76 degrees with the wind. It was a blizzard, and the winds were often up to 70 km. As well it was very dark, and difficult to see due to the blowing snow.
(Oops! I need to make a correction here. I've been thinking about the temperature I'd given as -76, which would not be possible. I believe that the coldest recorded temp. in Saskatchewan was Jan. 1, 2005 at -50 Celsius or -58 F. I think that, on the evening I was stuck waiting for my bus, the wind was 76 km., and think the temperature may well have been around -40. Not sure what that would have come to with the wind chill factor. I looked up some of the world's coldest temperatures, and I believe that the coldest recorded temperature was approximately -89, definitely not in Saskatchewan.) :)

While waiting I was undecided on the best action to take - should I wait, or try to walk abit? This day I had worn a skirt, so I was not dressed for the weather, and I became very cold, but a sort of grim determination seemed to set in for me, as well as a feeling of fascination and awe.

The buses had difficulty getting around, and two buses simply made a short cut in the route, so didn't come to get me.One bus did finally come for me, at around 7p.m., and I got home within an hour, after being picked up. Our city bus drivers usually tend to be a hardy lot, determined to drive through most weather conditions. I'm not alone in having stories like this to tell, and I've certainly had similar experiences in other years as well.

. The average temperature for January in Saskatchewan is -10 to -22 Celsius. More often it is much colder than that. In 2004, the average temperature for January was -34 C., and in 2005 the temperature was between -38 C and -28 C. (2005 was a memorably cold winter here).

Today our temperature was 3 degrees above. The forecast is for warm weather through the next week too.Weather forecasters seem to be agreeing that this winter is setting records for warm temperatures, and it looks like there is no cold weather to see ahead.

I took a few pictures on my way home from work today.The snow is melting, and water is laying in the streets which is so unusual for here, in January. It feels remarkable.The people I know are enjoying this warm weather, with abit of disbelief. I think we can be forgiven for our delight in the warmth.

Here is a sight we don't often see in the middle of winter - we have had very little snowfall thus far.

We had brisk winds today, up to 50 km. But the temperature at 3 above was warm.

Water lying in the street like this is unusual for the middle of winter in Saskatchewan. It does occur but it is rare.This was taken a little after 5 p.m. just at the sunset, and the light seemed very gentle, and almost springlike.

As you can see, I can't quite get over the phenomenon of all the water in the streets.

There seems to be a spring like quality to the light. I wonder if it is caused by the warmer temperature.

I have lived in Saskatchewan for most of my 56 years, and I am abit awestruck by our January. We have had warm spells in our winters but this is very unusual.


Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The "Boss"

Here's just a "fun" post from my other blog, to follow the last one with Herbert and Arthur. I plan to get back to some writing about my work at the daycare, soon...

The "Boss":
Herbert is a gentle soul. He came into my life in 2004, when I was overwhelmed with a mouse problem. I'd tried to trap the mice, but still could hear them scrambling in the walls of my very old house. This house had cracks in it's foundation, and we lived near a school field, so naturally the field mice seemed to see the house as an ideal place to inhabit.

Here is a funny little drawing I did for a story, but it shows abit of what this old farmhouse looked like. It was moved to it's lot in the city in the late 1940's, and we bought it in 1997, and it wasn't in the greatest of shape, but somehow we fell in love with it. By 2004, it needed quite abit of TLC, but at the time I wasn't able to do much, although we did patch some of the foundation.

I had been without a cat companion for 2 years, so decided it was time to find a cat who might also be a good mouser.

I found Herbert through the Humane Society. I had thought I might look for a smallish black female cat, but when I saw Herbert he was the one for me. He was a large ginger coloured male cat, who had been waiting for a long while for a home, and seemed patient and somewhat dignified.

I transported him home in a large closed box, and he was very unhappy about this, crying loudly on the ride back. When we got home, and I opened the box, he leaped out, and sat quietly taking in his surroundings. He seemed unconcerned about the presence of Rocky, my largish Sheltie, and just seemed to take us in his stride.As well, he proved to be very friendly, and jumped right up and perched on my shoulder, which surprised me as he was already quite a big cat at 13 pounds.

That night he killed one mouse, and actually led me to it in the basement, almost as though he was saying, " I know what my job here is." Through that winter he managed to kill around 9 mice. We never really had a mouse problem after that winter - and I give credit to Herbert for that.

I lost my dear Rocky, a few years later, and since then we had a few changes in our family of pets. We had a wonderful sweet dog, for one year, and a stray cat as well joined our home. Herbert has always been accepting and calm with the new animals. Our family now is made up of Herbert and Arthur (the little stray, now a 13 pound beauty of a cat).

I have thought of Herbert as "The Boss", among the family of pets in my household, for some years now, due to his calm, accepting nature.I think he's kind of "cool" too,  like Bruce Springsteen who is known as "The Boss" .

Herbert and Arthur spent one day, this week, playing with a large paper bag, but the next day the bag was definitely owned by Herbert, who has been sleeping on it on and off now for two days.There has appeared to be no contest over it - no fighting between the two cats. As usual Arthur, the younger cat by 8 years, seems to just defer to Herb.
I think he shows excellent judgement, and the fact that he defers gracefully to his elder, so often makes him a good and sensible cat in my estimation.