A loving, natural, nurturing place for your child to grow.

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Water Play

Posted by sunshine-dayhome on June 5, 2015 at 2:50 PM Comments comments (0)

This week, water in the back yard was a huge hit. Using simple tools of buckets, rags, and of course water, the boys did a lot of scientific exploration and play. They painted on the concrete to make beautiful patterns and develop their artistic side. I love water painting, because it can be done on any surface (fence, table, house, garage, concrete), and because it doesn't last. The children have the chance to create again and again, and it is a Buddhist exercise in letting go as their designs fade away with the water.

They also washed the cars, and then painted them! They actually washed everything they could get their hands on. By letting them explore with water in a free-play, unguided way, their play was able to unfold and encompass many different areas. Many developmental skills were enhanced: fine motor skills when using the paintbrushes, social skills as they shared the buckets and rags, and cognitive skills as they figured out how to reach the top of the cars. Children learn through play, and that's what we do every day here at Sunshine Dayhome.

Butterflies

Posted by sunshine-dayhome on May 29, 2015 at 3:10 PM Comments comments (0)

This week has been very exciting at Sunshine Dayhome, because our butterflies hatched! We got the larvae, or caterpillars, when they were tiny, and watched them eat and grow over the last week or two. This is how small they were when we first picked them up.

Within 7 to 10 days, they got huge! They are nibbling away at their food and bulking up to prepare for the long days in chrysalis state. Here they are at their biggest, and you can see one hanging in the upside down J about to enter the chrysalis state.

Now, the time of waiting. These caterpillars are changing and growing in amazing ways, which we read about in several butterfly books. That's the favorite new word at my house; the children are running around pointing at the container and saying, "Butterflies! Butterflies!".

This is the very first guy (gal?) to hatch; you can see him filling his wings our next to his chrysalis buddies.

Sooner than I expected they hatched open to reveal these beautiful butterflies. The kids were delighted to have the opportunity to hold a real butterfly, and I'm super happy to have beautiful new life in the house! We will release them when they have all hatched, likely on Tuesday afternoon.

 

 

Sunny Days

Posted by sunshine-dayhome on May 22, 2015 at 2:55 PM Comments comments (0)

Since the weather has turned, we have been outside each day from 9 a.m. until 5, with a short break in the middle of the afternoon for indoor naps and a break from the sun at its hottest. Over the course of this spring and summer, we will garden together, play in water, do some crafts, go on field trips, and have lots of picnics at different parks and playgrounds! This week, we had a nature walk to Bonnie Doon park. The boys were overjoyed to be there again, after a year away!

I love how they group together so much of the time. It's rare for one to be off doing their own thing; instead, they play in pairs or as a group - on the bouncy seat, at the dinosaur, in the sand, and on the slides.

Keenan and Kai had a wild ride on this Tyrannosaur - or is it a Velociraptor? A heated dinosaur debate ensued . . . And they also fiddled with this manipulative toy. We are so lucky to live in an amazing neighborhood with fantastic parks in every direction!

 

 

 

Happy Mother's Day!

Posted by sunshine-dayhome on May 8, 2015 at 2:35 PM Comments comments (0)

This week and last, the children and I were drumming up ideas for Mother's Day. I knew we needed to make cards, and luckily I found some at the Reuse Centre here in Edmonton (only $5 for up to 50 kg of stuff; love that place!). The children colored them, and I traced their hands if they wanted - because it's always lovely to have a marker of how much they've grown.

A couple of weeks ago, we planted chives, and now that they have successfully sprouted we decided to paint flower pots to house them in. I chose chives because Kaliana had gathered some wild seeds for me, and also I seem to be a much better gardener when it comes to vegetables and herbs than flowers! At any rate, they grow wild here, come back year after year, and every child I am caring for currently loves them. It's so funny to have them all running around with chive breath; you would think that with them being so spicy they'd avoid them, but nope!

Here is the finished package each mother will be getting. A card, decorated by their child; a flowerpot beautifully painted; and chives seeded and grown right here in the day home. Happy Mother's Day!

Wind Wands

Posted by sunshine-dayhome on May 1, 2015 at 3:15 PM Comments comments (0)

The children have been watching the wind lately, and seeing how it affects light materials. They really like following items blowing around, so I decided to make toys with them that would capture this effect. The time of year is perfect, because the wind blows often, and I had these sticks available from a recently pruned tree. I really like that they are growing fresh buds, which will add to the beauty of these nature toys.

In my mind, I made perfectly round circles. In reality, the wind wands wanted more of a triangle shape, so that's what I worked with! To engage more senses, I added a shiny little jingle bell to each. When all of the triangles were formed, I called the children over to choose their ribbons.

One thing I really like about this simple activity is that it incorporates elements of the earth. Using and viewing the forces of the four elements (wind air earth and fire) connects us to the earth and grounds us in our beings. It also teaches about the workings of the world - and pleases the children along the way! :)

    

 

Royalty

Posted by sunshine-dayhome on April 24, 2015 at 3:30 PM Comments comments (0)

As the children have been enjoying dress-up and dramatic play lately, we all made crowns together this week. I set out beautiful, shiny silver paper along with sparkly gems, and let them decorate to their heart's delight!

 

They really enjoyed this colorful activity, and it was gratifying to see how much focused attention and concentration they were using for this task. The youngest, Nixon and Saxon, were especially careful in selecting and positioning their gems. After they were all decorated, Kaliana was so excited to wear her crown that she whipped out the blow dryer and sped up the process!

 

And here they are, in all their glory. They are so proud, and already eagerly planning what royal hijinks they will get up to next!

Hatching Chicks

Posted by sunshine-dayhome on April 2, 2015 at 2:15 PM Comments comments (0)

 

Our third year of chicken egg hatching has been the most successful yet! Out of 36 eggs, 29 turned out to be viable, and 25 of those hatched. It has been so educational and rewarding watching these tiny birds hatch out of their eggs to become living, breathing chicks - and they're SO cute :)

 

Here is the first step of a chick hatching (top right egg). It's called a pip, when the embryo makes its first hole in the shell. These can be tiny cracks or a gaping hole. After the pip, the chick rests and waits, for up to 24 hours or sometimes even longer. The next step in the process is called a zip (bottom left egg) - the unzipping of the egg.

   

When you see an egg look like this, you know a chick is about to hatch into this world! It can take a very short time for this to happen, anywhere from 5 minutes to half an hour. The zip is basically a series of pips all around the egg, as the chick inside spins around and uses their egg tooth to crack the shell open further.

  

You can see the chick inside flex and relax, pulse and wait, and the crack opening every wider, until finally - success! The two halves of the egg fall apart to reveal a brand-new little bird. Though almost all of ours were healthy, we have had one late hatcher die, and two others were formed not quite right one has a paralyzed claw, while the other has a scissors beak and and is missing an eye - I'm still determining what to do about these tiny imperfect birds).

  

 I just love this guy's face!

Here is the flock in all of its glory. I want to keep them all! In reality, we will find them farm homes by the time they are two weeks old. Here in Edmonton, there is a pilot project on backyard chickens happening right now. By this fall, the city will reveal if homeowners can have small flocks in their yards - oh please, please, please . . . Everyone here would LOVE the chance to raise a few of these chicks, watch them grow and enjoy fresh eggs. Maybe next year, this dream will become a reality for Sunshine Dayhome. Until then - Happy Easter!

Outside in the Spring

Posted by sunshine-dayhome on March 13, 2015 at 2:20 PM Comments comments (0)

This week has been so fantastic; we have been playing outside twice a day again, now that it's nice enough to enjoy our afternoon snack out there! The boys are having SO much in the yard. Last spring, my big focus in the dayhome and for my diploma was improving the outdoor learning environment. It was great then and in the summer, and even greater now, as so many loose parts are stored in a way that makes them accessible to the children.

Some of the favourite items have been ladles, buckets, bowls, and paintbrushes. With all of the water melting from the snow, there is plenty to collect, transfer, store, paint with, and make monster stew with! One of the things I love most about monster stew is that it's such a simple game, and all of the children, no matter their age, play together. They add items, stir them, sniff the concoction, and forever change and modify it until it's at its most appealing - or disgusting, depending on your viewpoint! ;)

 

This is perhaps the last month that this beanpole tepee will be available, as soon I will be having the garden rototilled in preparation for a new children's garden. This year, in addition to the succulent vegetables available for the children to enjoy right off the vine(tomatoes, beans, peas), there will be a beautiful garden pathway, with walls of corn and sunflowers to protect the children and give them a sheltered space to play and be immersed in green, vibrant life. I cannot wait to plant with them!

 

Blue Butterfly Ball Sculpture

Posted by sunshine-dayhome on March 6, 2015 at 2:30 PM Comments comments (0)

I have been planning this craft for so long, ever since I discovered these beautiful butterflies at a garage sale. I realized they would look so nice perched on Styrofoam balls I had, and blue would be a nice base color. Time went by, though, and I forgot all about the idea until some recent spring cleaning yay, spring is almost here!). I dug them out, and decided it would be more fun to paint with the kids than by myself :)

 

After the balls were painted, they were set out to dry. It was so great that there was a minimum of rolling and no throwing as we painted! The kids enjoyed having a unique surface to paint on, but some difficulty understanding that this was a "collaborative craft" with everyone's balls; not their own creation to take home.

 

This is the finished product. I really like how they sparkle, and was careful to put butterflies on the bottom of the globes, too, so they can see them when they look up! Looking at these gives me hope that spring really is just around the corner; enjoy the warmer weather!

Loose Parts

Posted by sunshine-dayhome on February 27, 2015 at 3:20 PM Comments comments (0)

Loose parts are an excellent way to engage children in play. They support creativity because of their open-ended nature, and offer countless opportunities to experience social, dramatic, fine motor, and other play domains. I have been thinking a lot about our youngest children. Nixon and Saxon, and how to shift the environment to support them more. To do this, I tried out placing some open-ended, safe items in appealing and portable wicker baskets.

 

All of the children were drawn like flies to this simple and appealing arrangement! They immediately began arranging the items on the mirrors to create pictures and other fun images. Below is Liam's "cake"; he was so excited to show this to his mother!

 

One unexpected surprise was how much Nixon and Saxon loved the mirrors. They LOVE them! I have ben careful to watch them closely, as they are real mirrors, but aside from a couple of minor bonks to the head, there have been no issues with them. Staring at yourself in a special little mirror that you can walk around with is the latest and greatest fun experience at Sunshine Dayhome!