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Slushy Treats

Posted by sunshine-dayhome on December 4, 2015 at 3:45 PM Comments comments (0)

While we have done so many fun things this week, including tobogganing as a group for the first time and reading The Jolly Christmas Postman right as the real deal delivered our mail, I must say that the highlight was our slushy treat snack. We tried this for the first time last winter, and it was such a success that I knew we needed to make it at least an annual event. This snack is so simple, and also nutritionally based (though just a tad high on the sugar!). First, each child gets a cup or bowl.

Every child fills their dish half full of clean fresh snow. They had a lot of fun tromping around the yard trying to stake out their own patch of snow before it got stepped on, and I helped them make sure their cups weren't over-filled. Then, after they were all seated, I poured on thick cream. This year, I changed it a little, and made a thick, delicious custard sauce!

Finally, you top with fresh berries and enjoy with a biscuit on the side. Dee-lish! Going outside in cold wintertime is much easier with a snack like this to look forward to.

 

Snow!

Posted by sunshine-dayhome on November 20, 2015 at 2:25 PM Comments comments (0)

This was our first week of snow that stayed on the ground this season. The kids were all very excited! As soon as we finished snack, we headed outside.

I am still so happy that I took the time in 2014 to organize and determine which toys and materials would be most helpful for outside use. Here, the guys are using small shovels and trowels to scrape snow off surfaces.

Even though there isn't much snow quite yet, they still had a great time. We all can't wait for more snow to fall! The boys want to make snowmen, I want us to try snow angels, and on the small table in the back I have set up a board that I hope will turn into a small sledding hill; we will see!

 

November Play Provocations

Posted by sunshine-dayhome on November 6, 2015 at 3:20 PM Comments comments (0)

An important part of my dayhome is setting up inspirations for play, or play provocations. These carefully arranged groupings draw the child in to play; they support creativity, free play time, and development across the domains. I try to have two or three out at all times, and change them up about once a week. If the children don't play with them at all, I switch them out, and if they love the arrangement, and play with the materials all the time, I of course leave it up for longer. I choose the play provocations based on what the children are currently interested in; this follows an emergent curriculum and almost guarantees their interest, because I simply support what they already like or are curious about.

 

In this first provocation, I made a set of textured rubbings for them to explore. You simply lay a piece of paper on top and run the crayon across it to get the imprint. Everyone loved doing this outside this past summer, so I found a way to bring it inside! Next is Where's Waldo; I got the idea when I noticed how drawn the children were to the binoculars at play group last week. It was really fun for me to gather these books up for the children; a blast from my past, and I found myself even sitting down to find Waldo!

 

Finally, this simple xylophone. It was lent to me by my mother, a Waldorf teacher here in Edmonton. The simplest form of play provocation is setting out a new and unique, interesting item to explore, and the children here play with this each and every day. It will stay in the play area until their interest fades, and then be replaced by the next musical item (a harp, or maracas maybe?).

 

One final note on cost: each of these ideas cost me literally nothing at all. It can seem expensive trying to continually come up with ideas for inspirations or provocations that match the children's current needs, but by having a store of open-ended items, a library card, and a creative mind, you can easily set out great play prompts without breaking the bank. Look at what you have and think about the children you spend time with, and let the ideas flow!

Fall Leaves

Posted by sunshine-dayhome on October 16, 2015 at 2:45 PM Comments comments (0)

It's always so much fun piling, throwing, and crunching leaves! We went for a leaf walk this week, and also crunched them, made heaps, buried each other, and tossed them up into the air. Back at the house, every child grabbed a rake and we tackled the front yard.

The children really enjoyed engaging in this meaningful work, as well as jumping in our leaf piles and helping stuff two huge bags with leaves. A child's work is play, and when that play combines with necessary tasks of daily living, the children are able to grow and develop while learning and practicing valuable life skills.

When we headed inside, it was time for a calming lunch and nap. Kaliana was home on Thursday, and she wanted to lead the children through their pre-nap story. It was a treat to watch the children gathered round, and listening so attentively to my bright oldest child!

 

Harvest Time

Posted by sunshine-dayhome on September 24, 2015 at 3:20 PM Comments comments (0)

This is the most gorgeous fall I can remember; there are still red flowers on the scarlet runner beans adorning our living teepee in the garden! We have been very busy harvesting the garden and preparing for the winter to come. The children are quite curious about this, and have been eagerly participating in every step along the way. This is Kali and Lilian, gathering the last of the pumpkins.

*Picture coming soon*

I like trying new things around the dayhome, and so we also gathered yet more apples and I cut them, then strung them to make this garland. If they dry quickly and well, we will have them for snack next week; if not (and they become too dusty) we will simply enjoy watching the light filter through the stars in their centres.

Here are my young autumn beauties fresh from a seasonal walk, festive and bright with the decorations this season.

Baking the Acorn Bread

Posted by sunshine-dayhome on September 18, 2015 at 3:20 PM Comments comments (0)

So even after all of that effort, our flour needed more processing! It was blended in the blender, ground in the food mill, and finally - pulverised with hammers (definitely the boys' favourite part!).

Finally, finally, this acorn flour was ready! It took hours of work and many steps, and here it is: one cup of fragrant, gorgeous flour. The boys are pros at baking bread, as we do it weekly, and I decided to also bake a batch of whole wheat bread using the same recipe, so we could do a taste test at snack time.

The bakers are working their magic . . .

And here, at last, is our acorn bread! It is the darker slice. It had a richer, more woodsy flavor; still mid enough to be enjoyable, and definitely with a denser crumb and chewier texture. This outdoor scavenging and baking adventure has officially been deemed a success!

 

 

 

Acorns!

Posted by sunshine-dayhome on September 11, 2015 at 2:50 PM Comments comments (0)

I love living in Canada because of how the seasons change, and the gifts and opportunities each one affords us. This week, the children noticed acorns on the grounds when we were on a walk, so we decided to set a date to return, armed with baskets, and begin collecting. Last year, we created acorn snakes and jingly bells with these free, natural delights; this year we will turn some into bracelets and use others for - acorn flour!

 

The children listened very well, and stayed on the sidewalk as I requested. I was quite impresses because nobody popped an acorn into their mouth. The youngest children liked shaking the acorns around their baskets, and collecting and then dumping, while the older ones were intent on finding as many of the biggest and best acorns that they could.

 

We set off home with our treasures, and bagged them up to send with families. The others I baked at a low temperature to aid in the cracking, and then we set about the laborious task of cracking open the hard acorns. A hammer or rock worked best, and it turned out that just Kaliana and Kai chad the strength and motor control to break their shells, though Ben and even Nixon can open the shells once they have cracked.

 

When we tired of shelling acorns, it was time to boil them, to take out the tannins. To shorten the process, it is recommended to chop the up a bit, which I did with blender. Boil and strain, boil and strain, repeat! Finally, the acorn pieces were ready for baking. Long and low does the trick, to avoid burning the meat of the nut. When they were fully roasted, I tried a taste: delicious! They had such a mid flavor that I wondered if perhaps I had over-boiled them; next year I may do that step only once, or skip it all together. Finally, I ground up the crisp bits some more in the blender, and we will process these last shards once more in the grain mill (think repurposed coffee grinder) before baking it into bread next Wednesday - check back for an update! This final photo is the toasted acorns before grinding.

Fall Rain Walk

Posted by sunshine-dayhome on September 4, 2015 at 3:05 PM Comments comments (0)

This one short week has brought so many changes. The biggest is that Kaliana and Kai are now both in grade school, full time! I am proud and happy about this, of course, and also feeling a little sad and confused (how did that happen? Weren't they just toddlers, like, the other day??). Here they are, set to depart for their first full day of school this year.

 

The days are different now, with them gone and fall suddenly upon us. Isn't it remarkable how last week on Thursday, it was 26 degrees and we were sweating in the sun, while this week on Thursday, we were all wearing mittens as we headed off to the park? The seasons are changing abruptly, and I am bringing back our fall schedule. We have morning snack inside, and only after it has warmed up a bit do we head back out. If the weather is nice enough to dine without mittens, we will still enjoy lunch and snack outside, but those days are numbered! Today when we ventured out, it was raining.

 

Having two big kids off to school means more umbrellas for the rest of us, as you can see from these four happy ducklings! We walked around the block, examining our umbrellas closely and trying to stay together, before dashing off into the park. I really savor how it feels to be outside - wonderful - as compared to how it looked outside - awful and cold. We all perked up with a nice fall shower today.

 

Simplicity

Posted by sunshine-dayhome on August 7, 2015 at 2:50 PM Comments comments (0)

Sometimes, the simplest things really are the best. I strive to send a craft home with the children each week, and when I first began my day home six years ago, I often found that I was creating six crafts myself to send home - one for each child! Over time, I have developed a deep awareness of what the children can do, and what they like to do. I try to tie in creative activities with both their developmental abilities, and their interests, to offer something for them to create that they will enjoy both making and enjoying once it is complete. Because I only had two little ones each day this week, I was able to sneak into the picture myself!

Our creation was simple: a periscope, or a hooter toy - depending on how you use it. Open-ended things are best, and these two loved discovering on their own what they could use their tubes for. They concentrated so much on their coloring! Saxon was focused and knew what he was doing, and what he wanted it to look like. He also had a very definite idea of when it was fully complete.

Dylan really likes coloring, and happily he only tried once to put the marker in his mouth. While I don't often use markers, this day was perfect for it; a child as young as Dylan really can struggle to press down a crayon or pencil crayon hard enough to make a mark, and our surface was round, not flat. He learned very quickly to use his other hand to stabilize the tube enough to draw on it, and once he was coloring the table more than his periscope, his creation was complete, too!

Our Yard

Posted by sunshine-dayhome on June 12, 2015 at 3:40 PM Comments comments (0)

We are so lucky to have a fully fenced back and front yard. While we have so much to enjoy and do in the back, including the garden, hammock, rope ladder, climbing fort, ride-on cars, and more, the front yard also hold wonder and natural offerings.

 

I am glad that we chose to go out there today, because if not we might have missed the blooming of this beautiful flower. The previous owners of this house were avid gardeners, and though I have not quite been able to keep, these throw-backs from the time they lived here are much appreciated and loved by all. What drew us to the front yard today was the promise of green leaves, grasses, and bushes, for our latest nature project.

 

Here the boys are, deep in the green jungle of the front nanking cherry bushes. Kai cannot wait for them to grow and ripen; he was carefully examining the branches to check on their progress. The others, armed with buckets, searched for pretty green grass and leaves to collect.

 

This is our final product. Each child arranged his green treasures on the white paper, and I helped glue them all down. While the youngest were most engaged in ripping and strewing the leaves, Kai really enjoyed artistically arranging his on the canvass.

 

We learned a lot of things out in the yard today. Kai connected to the cycle of nature as he remembered the flowers from the last weeks on the bushes, and searched for budding berries. The younger ones saw how grass emerges from the ground, and how branches turn to twigs, which offer beautiful leaves. They all connected to nature and their higher selves, learning in a cognitive and hands-on way, by simply watching and accepting the offerings of the yard. All of this, from a simple trip to the front yard.