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Apple Prints

Posted by sunshine-dayhome on September 12, 2014 at 3:20 PM Comments comments (0)

We have made so many things with apples over the past few weeks, we were bound to do a creative activity with them too! After making applesauce, picking and eating raw apples for snack, and planning for gluten-free pie and cake next week, our attention turned to apple prints.

First we cut the apples open to reveal the surprise star inside. Both boys were given a knife and cutting board as they attempted to uncover the secret inside these soft tree apples. After we revealed our stars, we set out to make prints. We painted the apple halves, then pressed them to paper to make - circles with no stars!

I have no idea why this didn't work as well for us as it has for others, but the boys had a lot of fun anyway, creating images with the paint and sponge brushes I offered.

Outdoor Play

Posted by sunshine-dayhome on August 29, 2014 at 4:00 PM Comments comments (0)

We have been enjoying the last few days of summer in the garden and outside. The children love examining the plants, harvesting corn, beans, tomatoes, and apples, and seeing how big the sunflowers have grown!

The beanpole teepee is completely overgrown! It is great to see the children disappear inside it, and I can't wait to see how beautiful it looks in the fall. The children and I are amazed by how many beans we find there.

Last but not least, the open-ended materials are a complete hit. Here, two toddlers choose from the skipping ropes, trowels, chalk, bug catchers, and magnifying lenses on offer.

 

 

Apples

Posted by sunshine-dayhome on August 21, 2014 at 3:40 PM Comments comments (0)

Our adventures in gardening continue; this week, with apples! The trees are literally raining down apples, there are so many. I am awakened in the night by them bouncing off of the roof! Some of the things the children like to do with the apples are picking them from the trees, taking them to the park, baking apple pie or apple sauce, and of course eating them!

The children really enjoy picking them up to see how many we have, and so we can walk and run without tripping on them. They like tasting and comparing the different kinds, too (we have two trees that are grafted, so we have five varieties to sample!).

 

We are lucky to have this helpful tool to reach the apples up high. The children so enjoy taking turns getting that perfect fruit!

Seashells

Posted by sunshine-dayhome on August 13, 2014 at 4:00 PM Comments comments (0)

One of the field trips I took with my children this summer was to a local beach. They loved playing in the water and in the sand, and selected a number of beautiful seashells to take home. After they had time to dry out, I asked what we should do with them. "Glue them on paper", Kaliana suggested.

 

I followed her advice and set out the following creative play inspiration. By arranging the materials carefully, in an open-ended invitation, the environment can draw the children in and engage them in the activity. The children were immediately attracted to this, and began to create!

 

The materials were great because they were all easy for the children to use. The glue poured smoothly from the child-sized bottles, and the glitter has a special shaker top that allows the children to use it without adult intervention - it shakes out, rather than dumps. By offering materials that children can easily and safely handle, the need for adult intervention decreases, and the child's sense of autonomy and self-worth soars.

Spy Phones!

Posted by sunshine-dayhome on July 11, 2014 at 2:50 PM Comments comments (6)

It is so neat to play a part in turning dreams into reality. Two of the children here have been playing Spies a lot lately, and running around tracking and plotting to catch "bad guys". To play this game, the children require the use of spy phones - the house cordless phones! I explained that I needed them and they were not toys - but, we could make some ourselves that they could use all of the time! Of course, they thought this was a fantastic idea. I cut and sanded wood, and then offered it to them to paint.

 

After a visit to the splash park, the paint was dry and ready for the buttons! All of the children had lots of fun choosing the button sizes and colours, and arranging them on their phones. The final step was for me to glue the buttons in place, and voila - Spy Phones for everyone!

 

Art in the Outdoors

Posted by sunshine-dayhome on July 3, 2014 at 3:20 PM Comments comments (0)

It is so fantastic that summer is here, and we can do more and more activities outside. I realized we hadn't done a craft recently, and so asked the two boys what they'd like to draw. Kai said we should use orange, and Liam added that we should draw fire, with yellow and red, too. Kai wanted to draw camping pictures and roasting hot dogs, and he told the story of our recent weiner roast at my dad's for Father's Day. I asked how we should make our pictures, and Kai said, "Pencil crayons!", while Liam added, "And paper!". One way of making it easy to draw outside is do what my friend Charlotte does; she has a special pencil case and paper packed and ready to go.

What we did was simply gather up our art supplies and head into the backyard! It was lovely to watch the bous drawing together, sharing the supplies, and commenting on one another's art.

 

Here are the final drawings! Liam drew a detailed picture of fire, and Kai added a burning house and a firefighter to his. I love that this simple project, which followed an emergent curriculum from beginning to end, was completely planned by the children, and offered such wonderful results to display on our art wall.

Free Play

Posted by sunshine-dayhome on June 20, 2014 at 4:15 PM Comments comments (0)

So much of what happens in this dayhome is not planned, but spontaneously occurs based on the needs and interests of the children. This can change from hour to hour, day to day, or week to week. Some activities are explored over the course of weeks, and others for only an hour or two before being abandoned in search of new fun and learning. Today, the boys enjoyed drawing and playing with cars before snack time:

Saxon, my youngest, was enamored with this garden statue that was just delivered yesterday. He talked to it, smacked it, caressed it, and of course tasted it! I wondered what he thought of this white immobile figure, so large in his world? It's the newest addition and interest point in out outdoor learning environment.

By interacting with their environment in a way that interests them, the children explore their world and grow and learn through play.

Woodworking with Children

Posted by sunshine-dayhome on June 5, 2014 at 2:35 PM Comments comments (0)

I have been toying around with the idea of creating a chalkboard for the children, with the children. I already have the paint, left over from the creation of these open-ended chalkboard blocks:

and, luckily, I also have some extra wood lying around! The boys helped to measure, mark, and sand the wood, learning numeracy skills and increasing their fine motor abilities as we went.

I could have waited for a child-free evening or weekend to accomplish this, but instead invited the boys to join in. They didn't have to, but were very excited to be welcomed into participating. After every turn, both would say, "Okay, just one more turn!". When they tired of helping, they ran to play in the beanpole teepee while I finished up - see how much it's grown!

Open Ended Art

Posted by sunshine-dayhome on April 25, 2014 at 2:35 PM Comments comments (0)

Being with an accredited day home agency is sometimes inspiring, sometimes frustrating - and sometimes both. When I re-opened in January, my consultant let me know that we were expected to have open-ended art materials available at all times to the children. I have tried this repeatedly in the past, but always ended up with cut-up curtains, children sporting fresh new hair looks, and writing on the walls that took hours and heavy chemicals to remove. This topic became one of my personal goals since reopening. I have used chalk (wipes off!) and window crayons (ditto). When I realized that I could trust children with those, I laid out paper and pencil crayons - the ones that erase, at first, but soon I followed those up with real ones, and then felt confident enough to add crayons. Here's an example of an open-ended art provocation I set out this week:

By starting off with materials I felt comfortable with, I enabled the children to have free access to materials they could make marks with, starting when I opened. Then, I closely supervised to ensure that the children could be trusted to use the materials appropriately. They did - and to be honest, I was happily surprised! I came to realize that, just like jumping inside, children need to be given an appropriate outlet for their energies. By denying them crayons, I was denying them the opportunity to be creative - and so they seized the chance whenever a crayon was accidentally left out and coloured all over the walls. They used to climb bookshelves or jump on inappropriate furnishings, until I allowed them one old couch to jump on. Now, they only jump on the couch. They used to write all over the walls - now, they only write on the paper, because there is paper and marking utensils to use.

The children created beautiful images using the doilies. I love Nora's, which is the crumpled ball, and Olive's, which has a yellow center and a green outer ring. By offering these new materials in a beautiful way, I draw the children in and let their creativity and talents shine. By having items like this out all the time, my walls remain clear and shining, too! 

 

Slowing Down

Posted by sunshine-dayhome on April 11, 2014 at 4:45 PM Comments comments (0)

While it is very important to the children and I that we play outside each day, it is also so important to keep balance in our lives. It takes so long to get the children dressed to go out in the morning that frequently it's the only thing we accomplish before lunch! I also realized that it had been a long time since our last creative activity. So, to keep balance in our lives and calm in this day, we stayed in.

It was wonderful to watch the children play freely for the whole morning. I played with them, and also organized some mixed-up game pieces. When I took out the games to do so, Madeleine and Kai immediately started playing card matching games - I didn't even know that they liked those! Playing with them gave Kai the idea to bring out his domino set, and they spent a lot of time with that as well.

After this, we got around to our art project. I had not found the time to arrange a Waldorf spring craft, so instead I simply and quickly cut out paper egg shapes, and offered those with stickers and crayons. Was it Waldorf inspired? No. Did that matter? Not at all! They immersed themselves in this open-ended craft for about half an hour.

Today really sent home some important lessons for me, in slowing down and really connecting to what the children need. They were very calm and peaceful today, instead of a bit hurried and over-excited, as they sometimes get. And after lunch and nap, we were outside for two hours enjoying the early spring sun! Balance can be found, and peace, when we can connect with the children and offer up what is needed - even if it wasn't in the plan.