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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.

Dandelion Week

Posted by sunshine-dayhome on May 15, 2015 at 2:40 PM Comments comments (0)

Now that spring here and leaves are unfolding from trees, I find that dandelions have returned as well! While I must admit that I find the yellow blooms in the grass to be cheery and bright, I do not relish their presence in the garden - they are taking over my strawberry plants! The children absolutely adore them, especially Ben and Kai. Ben seems to view them as special friends of his, and Kai loves their taste - he sucks on the flower heads for dew, and eats the whole flower as well. You can use their green leaves in a salad, as they're less bitter this young, but they aren't to my taste.

There are many other uses for dandelions, though, including dandelion drawing and dandelion syrup, both of which we at Sunshine Dayhome tried this week. We try new recipes every spring; last year it was dandelion burgers (way better than they sound), and next I might try my hand at dandelion wine - though not for the children, of course. Here we are, in the backyard, drawing with the yellow flowers. These pictures do fade quite a bit over time, but it's fun to try new ways of being creative - and I feel better about this than just pulling them out of the garden and throwing them away.

 

The dandelion syrup was more of an adventure, I must admit! The first time we picked a bunch of heads, I carefully washed them and set them to dry overnight. In the morning they had folded in on themselves and there was no way to extract the petals. We tried again the next day, and skipped the washing because I use no pesticides in my yard, we examined them carefully for bugs, and they will be boiled twice in order to make syrup. Here is the recipe:

-Pick 100 to 125 dandelion heads, and wash if you like

-Rub the petals apart from the bitter greens and place them in a pot (adults can use a knife for this step_

-Cover with water and boil for just one minute, then put a lid on the pot and let it sit for 24 hours to steep

-The next day, strain the water into a fresh pot (don't worry about the color; ours was an unhappy brown-green at this step)

-Add 2-3 cups sugar and boil - not for too long now!

 

Ahem, we boiled for too long and got - dandelion candy! The children were delighted. I think we will use this as dandelion honey, to enjoy on toast and in tea :) 

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!

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!

A Waldorf Halloween

Posted by sunshine-dayhome on October 31, 2014 at 2:30 PM Comments comments (0)

How lucky are we to have Halloween on a warm, snow-free Friday this year! The children are very excited about celebrating tonight, and we started by having delicious Halloween treats - monster-eye pretzels, roasted pumpkin seeds, and bread snake. Liam said, "I love snake for lunch!". The Waldorf Halloween treats are hand-made with the children, and are very low in sugar and processing (the pretzel eyes have the most, with white chocolate and a sprinkle for the iris).

 

I spent a lot of time and thought last year into planning and offering a spook-free, Waldorf Halloween environment. I do love this holiday, it is my very favorite, but I am not a fan of terrified children, or having items around which may cause nightmares or inappropriate fear. Ideas include wooden snakes, a vague with figure and two children (Hansel and Gretel), a dressed-up teddy, and more. This is what I have prepared for the children.

 

Some of these items, like the labelled wine bottles and decorative glasses, are strictly ornamental, but all of the others are meant to be played with. We have stuffed pumpkins of felt and cloth, real pumpkins, plain and decorated, and little witch and warlock dolls. There are hand-made peg dolls - witches, ghosts, a black cat, and more - as well as a pirate play corner with wooden swords, sparkling gems and coins, and soft pirate hooks to hold. The items which are the most fun for the children are the potion sets. One consists of Pyrex beakers in fun sizes, that they mix and develop "potions" in the bathroom with using food dye or marker dipped into the water (Kaliana's invention). The other is a set of sealed, clear bottles, filled with different potion ingredients. To complete the set is a black "cauldron" and wooden mixing spoon. To my surprise, it is the youngest of the crew that enjoys these the most - Saxon and Nixon have spent hours dumping the ingredients into the pot and stirring them around!

I wish you all a Happy Halloween, Waldorf-style!

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! 

 

Snow Dough Play Inspiration

Posted by sunshine-dayhome on January 21, 2014 at 3:25 PM Comments comments (1)

 This week, I took an idea from my favourite childcare and parenting magazine, Disney's Family Fun, and made snow dough! Kai, Madeleine, and Nora all had lots of fun playing with it.

They explored it using all of their senses, and created things like a snowman and a snow person with a mold. They also manipulated it by shaping, poking, pinching, and cutting the snow dough. Saxon looked at the sparkles. Nora tried to eat it (euw!). Kai said, "It's like snow, but mushy, but sparkly . . . sorta like white play dough! "  Madeleine said, "t smells like cake. Look, I'm cutting it - see?".

 

You can make Snow Dough easily at home by following this recipe:

Knead 2 cups of corn starch with 1/3 cup oil and 6 tbsp. glitter. Add oil, 1 tbsp. at a time, and knead together until soft but still crumbly. Mix will keep indefinitely, and does not dry out! As an added bonus, it left our hands feeling soft and moisturized :)