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

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Rain Walk

Posted by sunshine-dayhome on July 17, 2015 at 3:15 PM Comments comments (0)

It was a very wet end of the week here; the last two days have consisted of a lot of indoor time, split up by some very wet outdoor periods. After we made and painted airplanes, played with Play Dough, made dinosaur track molds, and hosted a tenting party in the living room, we were ready to brave the driving rain.

It is a lot of fun walking in the rain, even if it can be a LOT of work to clean up afterward! We geared up in head to toe rain gear this morning, and then headed outside to drink it all up and splash around. The children were so happy to splish, splash, and slide in the huge puddles.

It is really great to be able to get outside and do this kind of thing; children thrive when they can enjoy time outside. There is space to work through emotions by jumping, shouting, and yelling, and social skills thrive as they work together to figure out what kind of splashing is okay and how to share the puddles. They become connected to the earth and its rhythms in a deep and meaningful way when they connect the rain falling from the sky, to the puddles on the ground, and the free watering of the garden which offers vegetables to us. Though we did dump out buckets of muddy water from 6 pairs of rain boots when we got home, I must say, it was truly worth it.

 

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.

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.

 

 

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 :) 

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!

Growing Bulbs

Posted by sunshine-dayhome on April 10, 2015 at 4:10 PM Comments comments (0)

While I am enjoying this week, most of y thoughts have lay with the childcare conference here in Edmonton tomorrow. I will be presenting on the Outdoor Learning Environment, as well as Inspirations and Provocations. I thought we'd enhance our outdoor  by planting bulbs, as spring is now here! I dug out some bulbs which were gifted to us, and have been lying dormant in the fridge all winter. While the children played in our digging area, I readied a planting activity for them. They absolutely love those shovels from Lehman's and Lee Valley!

 

The sun was so bright, it felt wonderful on our faces as we planted the bulbs. I guided the children in filling the boxes, and encouraged them to plant 2 inches deep. They loved scooping the dirt out of the bucket with their trowels, and pushing the dried up bulbs and corms into the earth. We talked a lot about what they were, why they look so funny, and what they will (hopefully) become.

 

Two different varieties were planted in little planters, to sprout inside and go home with families when they are ready. The others, needing to be buried 4-6 inches deep, were embedded in our border garden. Now all we need is weeding, watering, sun, and time before we see green shouts appear!

On a side note - we had so many chicks and they grew so fast, I had to give them before we were quite ready. We miss them so much, and really hope that next year backyard chickens will be legalized! Here they are in all their glory, learning how to climb on the feeder and learn to fly away . . .

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!