|Posted by sunshine-dayhome on February 6, 2015 at 3:30 PM||comments (0)|
Here at Sunshine Dayhome, we have been busy planning for Valentine's Day next week! We love watching the birds outside and through the window, so our first plan was to entice them by baking heart-shaped bird treats. The recipe was a bit of a flop; smoky and crumbly when baked, so I won't share it, but we did get some usable treats to hang, and next week we'll try again with a firmer recipe.
Next, we created window transparencies together. They look lovely, and really brighten up our space.
Finally, I brought out the decorations I have made for this season, including soft felt hearts in different shades of red and pink. They were fun to make, and even more fun to watch the kids play with. Nixon and Saxon especially enjoy placing them in buckets and trading them, or marching around with them.
|Posted by sunshine-dayhome on January 23, 2015 at 3:15 PM||comments (0)|
I so value free play, and am always delighted to peek in on the children as they go about their activities and catch a glimpse of what they are learning that day. This week, reading was a big interest to the gang. Every morning there were at least two children curled up on the couch with a book! I keep many picture books, board books, and a wildlife encyclopedia out for them at all times, so when the urge strikes, there is always an interesting book there for them to pick up. These early literacy skills are so important, and so is seeding in them a deep interest in books, and a curiosity that books can help satisfy.
We also did a painting project this week. They were very engaged, and mixing lots of colours together. I was able to see how the children have progressed over time; Nixon no longer tries to eat the paint (yay!), and Kai can produce recognizable figures!
To round out our play, I brought out the Flubber that was made a couple of months ago. They were very excited about how it stretches and rips, and we even blew some huge bubbles in it using straws! Next week, though, it's back to play dough for us - Liam and Kai insist.
|Posted by sunshine-dayhome on January 9, 2015 at 2:20 PM||comments (0)|
Our first full week back from holidays has been challenging, because the low temperatures have kept us from playing outside. Instead of enjoying nature in the backyard, we have brought it in, along with a little bit of summer. These flowers were dried with the children back in July, when the grass was green and flowers were abundant. I love bringing out a little piece of summer to share, and to brighten our day!
A huge focus here is using an emergent curriculum. Basically, this means instead of planning activities weeks in advance according to my own ideas, I work with the children to learn about their interests, and planning follows that. Our events are more fluid, directly tied into the children's interests and play, and more relevant, because what the children are interested in, we are doing. One part of this is making a web of ideas that we can follow for the next 4-6 weeks. We all sit down together and come up with ideas, and I add those I have noticed the children enjoying. Then, when we want to bake or craft, we remember the web and use the children's ideas, rather than only mine. They love being consulted, and love doing things that they really like and are curious about in the now.
This final activity follows the emergent curriculum perfectly. Saxon has really liked playing with dinosaurs lately, and Liam and Kai have been talking about them in their play, too. When Keenan came this morning and his mom mentioned that they had been stamping the day before, I knew that the time was perfect to do some dino stamping as a group. As a special bonus, we were able to use the rubber dinosaur stamps and ink pads that Liam's mother had generously donated to the program. When things tie in so neatly together, and the children get to enjoy an activity they are into and that their parents helped facilitate, the dayhome runs just as I feel it should! Parents working together, caregivers catering to children's current needs and interests, and engaged, happy kids are what it's all about!
|Posted by sunshine-dayhome on December 18, 2014 at 2:30 PM||comments (0)|
Today is the last full day before Christmas, and also the day of our Christmas party! I am going to share with you the exciting things we have prepared for the families in the past few weeks. First, and most impressive, we felted soaps for our parents. I was amazed that the children managed to maintain their interest and focus, and sat down to felt these for a full 15 minutes. We snuck in some early literacy by counting down the minutes on the clock, and as we felted we talked about the upcoming holidays.
Trying these at home is simple; wrap a bar of soap (we used Dove) in magic wool, then tightly wrap with a panty hose end. Dip it in hot water, then rub rub rub! Alternate dipping in hot and cold water, and felt for at least 10 minutes. Finish by dipping in cold water, and then letting air dry for 1-2 days. The felt feels nice, almost a washcloth around the soap!
This is what I have made the children for their Christmas gift. We gathered these acorns this summer, and I drilled them and strung them with bells. Each child will have a beautiful and natural melodic necklace to wear home tonight!
I will post next week, to share about our holiday family party and also to reflect back on the year. We will be closed until the beginning of January, but until then, have a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year!!
|Posted by sunshine-dayhome on December 12, 2014 at 2:45 PM||comments (0)|
This week the children had fun designing Borax snow flakes. I made an S for Saxon, and Liam and Kai twisted their pipe cleaners into fun, unique shapes. The rest is simple; you mix 3 tablespoons Borax for every cup of warm water, and then dangle the figures in a non-metal container for 24 hours. If you use clear glass, you can see the crystals form! The result is a beautiful, crystalline decoration that will last for years.
One of the items which had the boys rapt this week was this German smoker. I grew up with one like this, and so it is a very special treat for me to share this with these young ones. You light an incense cone in the base, and then watch Santa puff away as the room fills with the beautiful Christmas scent of woodsy incense. As a bonus, it fits right in with Liam's goal of many smells!
Every year, I set out a bowl of nuts in their shell. My children were too young to properly use those metal nut crackers, and I have never liked them - too many slipped nuts and pinched fingers! These wooden mushroom crackers, though, a re perfect. The nuts can't roll away, the mess is contained, and even a three-year-old can manage the task on their own. Best of all, the children love to eat their freshly cracked nuts - a great source of fibre and protein!
|Posted by sunshine-dayhome on November 21, 2014 at 3:35 PM||comments (0)|
As I am giving a workshop next week on sensory play and messy activities, we have been doing a lot of those in the dayhome. One idea for older children is to offer nutmeg and cinnamon, along with graters and small bowls. If these are set out at the child's level, it becomes an invitation to sensory play. I was honestly startled by how much Kaliana and Kai enjoyed this; they each grated a lot of spice, and we had conversations about where they grow and what we could make using these fresh spices. Though we ended up baking spice cookies together, you could also sprinkle them on milk, cereal, or oatmeal. It is a special treat to allow the child to wrap up their spices in wax paper and take them home to share!
Here at Sunshine Dayhome, the most sensory play we engage in happens though daily activities. For example, raking leaves and shovwlling snow, and then playing in those natural (free!) materials, is sensory play. Cooking, washing berries, scraping out a pumpkin - sensory play. Even regular toy washes is sensory play - and it can be so fun, if you set it out as a car wash or baby doll wash station. This week, outside, the boyts used shovels to excavate wood bricks and remove the ice and snow from everything in the yard. They were so determined in this task!
The simplest sensory exploration uses colour and paper. Whether watercolour painting or drawing on clipboards, children love to make marks in this world. Painting is special here as it happens only once a week, whereas colouring happens each and every day. Offering clipboards supports the child in dramatic play, as well as allows them to take their art to whichever corner of the room they desire. Portable surfaces to write on are highly useful, and they allow the children to spread out m ore than they can at a stationary table.
|Posted by sunshine-dayhome on November 14, 2014 at 2:55 PM||comments (0)|
As winter settles down upon us, our feathered friends are having a hard time finding food. Since the children so enjoy watching the birds fly and eat and sing outside, this week we created natural treats for them to enjoy!
The first idea came from Kaliana's Sparks group. It is so simple and easy that my 15-month-old could do it mostly on his own. You spread a pine cone with nut butter, and roll it in birdseed! I bought the seeds at Edmonton's Wild Bird General Store, which I highly recommend to anyone who loves birds. One really fun thing there is that each type of seed has a list of the birds it is likely to attract, so you can try to invite specific species into your yard.
The other food we offered is in the form of a bird restaurant. This is a super-fun idea, where you offer several different types of food (fruit, seeds, nuts, etc.) and watch to see which birds are most attracted to them! A good way to see if the signs in the store are true, and a first scientific study for the older children, we now have one in the front and back yards. The birds have not discovered them yet, but when they do the children and I will be delighted!
|Posted by sunshine-dayhome on October 24, 2014 at 3:05 PM||comments (0)|
We have been so very lucky this year to enjoy our extended warm days up until this point! Besides the small snow drop we had in September, this morning was the first that there was frost outside. The children have been soaking up the warmth, and enjoying every possible moment out there that we can. Here is our last outdoor snack until spring:
Kaliana harvested the last garden offerings, and shared them with her friends (I kept them away from the dried beans though - best for soup ;)). She gathered fall chives, dried corn, beans from the teepee, and sunflower seeds from the garden house that the children loved so much. The birds love it too, and we are delighted by their chirps as they swoop down and perch on the sunflower heads, getting their fall snacks.
Because I focus on open-ended art activities, I offered black and gold, and orange and black, as paper and paint combinations this week. The children painted with these spooky colours and really enjoyed themselves. Happy Fall!
|Posted by sunshine-dayhome on October 17, 2014 at 4:20 PM||comments (0)|
I love the colours of the trees at this time of year, and the children and I have a great time crunching leaves, collecting them, and naming all the colours we see. We played a lot in the front yard with nature's offerings, including awesome and free sensory play with a leaf pile.
Later in the week, we made art using leaves as glitter! If I were to do this again, I'd definitely collect leaves first, and then after nap (inside!) glue them down, as the leaves, papers, and kids were blowing every which way in the yard. They realy enjoyed it, though, and aside from a little glue sampling (oh, you toddlers!) I was quite pleased with the results.
One final thing th children are loving this autumn is playing Squirrel. They have taken down some of the tall sunflowers, and will sit looking at the design of the seeds, then selecting and eating them, and pretending that they are squirrels in the garden. It is really wonderful to watch them connecting with nature in such a simple, yet meaningful, way.
|Posted by sunshine-dayhome on September 19, 2014 at 3:50 PM||comments (0)|
We have been very busy with some fall fun! Following the Waldorf tradition, I have immersed the children in the lovely book, The Apple Cake, for the past few weeks. They now know the story quite well, and the time has come to bake our apple cake! We picked the apples together, and then headed inside to mix and stir. We made one gluten freee and one regular, and here is how it looked - it tasted delicious!
The garden is almost done for the year, but we are still harvesting materials from it. This season, the outdoor items we have gathered include leaves, sticks, rocks, acorns, and corn husks. These are a lot like straw, and so much can be made from this simple natural material. Here is one of Kaliana's finished products, a corn husk doll.
One other inside activity we tried was making galaxy dough. This is regular old playdough, with some blue and black food colouring added. I let the children mix in the glitter themselves; shaking it out was the best part