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Slushy Treats

Posted by sunshine-dayhome on December 4, 2015 at 3:45 PM Comments comments (0)

While we have done so many fun things this week, including tobogganing as a group for the first time and reading The Jolly Christmas Postman right as the real deal delivered our mail, I must say that the highlight was our slushy treat snack. We tried this for the first time last winter, and it was such a success that I knew we needed to make it at least an annual event. This snack is so simple, and also nutritionally based (though just a tad high on the sugar!). First, each child gets a cup or bowl.

Every child fills their dish half full of clean fresh snow. They had a lot of fun tromping around the yard trying to stake out their own patch of snow before it got stepped on, and I helped them make sure their cups weren't over-filled. Then, after they were all seated, I poured on thick cream. This year, I changed it a little, and made a thick, delicious custard sauce!

Finally, you top with fresh berries and enjoy with a biscuit on the side. Dee-lish! Going outside in cold wintertime is much easier with a snack like this to look forward to.

 

Advent Ideas and Planning

Posted by sunshine-dayhome on November 27, 2015 at 3:05 PM Comments comments (0)

As December draws near, my thoughts turn to Advent and all of the things I want to do with these lovely children before Christmas. I cherish Advent calenders of all shapes and sizes, because they make each day special and unique and help build up the excitement of Christmas Day. In my home, there are some Advent calenders that have been handcrafted for my own three children, as well as one unique calendar that I use mostly with the dayhome children.

 

This first handmade Advent calendar may explain more on why I love Advent calenders so much; my mother made this when I was a child, and my three siblings and I delighted in looking at the pretty chocolates up on the wall and looked forward to eating one each morning. I was so happy that they all agreed I could use it with my own three; now my children delight in it on our wall, and look forward to that decadent morning chocolate!

 

Next is the Advent calendar I made for my eldest child, my daughter Kaliana. She really likes feeling older, and because I didn't want to get her a commercial beauty calendar (perfume and lipstick for a 9-year-old? No thanks), I chose the items in this myself. In the little packages are fun and age-appropriate gifts like lotion, body wash, bath scrubs, bath bombs and fizzies, flavoured lip balm, and more. I can't wait to see which are her favourites!

 

While my middle boy LOVES Lego and would settle for nothing less than this year's Lego Advent calendar, for my youngest I went for a softer touch. I hand-painted 25 tiny peg dolls, transforming them into gorgeous glittery decorations for the tree. Then, I simply created these green cones, which together look like a forest. Each little tree cradles a tiny angel inside (check back later to see them on our tree!). Beside it you can see my own Advent calendar, Lush's 12 Days of Christmas - because Mommy needs pampering, too!

 

I have saved the best for last. Here is the Advent calendar I created years ago for the dayhome children, and my own on the weekends. Each felt envelope has a different Advent idea, and they are planned out in advance so I have the materials I need on hand.

 

To help with creating your own Advent calendar, if you are so inclined, I have included some lists below! Here are 32 Advent Ideas:

 

For the Dayhome

  1. Bake Christmas cookies (gingerbread men; nanaimo bars; snowballs; thumbprint . . .)
  2. Make a Christmas craft
  3. Create Christmas cards
  4. Enjoy peppermint hot chocolate
  5. Create a present for the parents
  6. Make gift wrap
  7. Read a Christmas story together
  8. Go for a walk to see Christmas lights and decorations
  9. Decorate the tree in the front yard
  10. String popcorn and cranberry garlands
  11. Create pomanders (cloves stuck into oranges)
  12. Write a Christmas wish list
  13. Celebrate with a dayhome party including the parents
  14. Bake a Yule Log
  15. Drink hot apple cider

With My Own Children:

  1. Pick out a tree together
  2. Decorate the tree
  3. Decorate the house
  4. Put up our Christmas lights
  5. Pick a gift for Daddy
  6. Wrap Daddy's gift
  7. Eat a candy cane
  8. Watch a Christmas movie (A Christmas Carol, The Grinch, Elf, Miracle on 34th Street, Home Alone, A Christmas Story ...)
  9. Visit Candy Cane Lane
  10. Go see Santa
  11. Attend the Festival of Trees
  12. Got to the WISE Winter Fair
  13. See the Nutcracker Ballet
  14. Go carolling, or take in a choir concert
  15. Bake cookies for Santa
  16. Put out Santa's cookies and milk
  17. Read The Night Before Christmas

Happy Advent!

 

 

 

Museum Field Trip!

Posted by sunshine-dayhome on November 13, 2015 at 3:50 PM Comments comments (0)

This week has been wonderful; with t=my oldest two home, all the children have been making forts, playing hard outside, and making elaborate plans for what they should do on their next break from school for the holidays. We created some beautiful Remembrance Day crafts, read lots of books, and had a fun pajama day complete with teddy bears and hot chocolate, but today might have been the best day of all - Museum Day!

I was quite impressed with how engaged the children all were. They stayed together as a group, asked lots of questions, and stuck around to listen to me read them details from the exhibit's plaques. There is so much to see and do there, and it all held their interest so well - plants and animals, bugs and dinosaurs, indigenous peoples and even rocks - every topic their favorite!

I will miss the museum, as it is moving in just 3 weeks and isn't slated to reopen in its new location until the winter of 2017. It was fantastic to be able to go one more time with the children in my care, while they are still young. I have so many memories of bringing my oldest two there, and have been bringing groups of children there with me wince 2007, way back when I was nanny and we were within walking distance. I'm sad to see it go, but looking forward to visiting again with these children, and likely some new ones as well, in late 2017 or early 2018.

November Play Provocations

Posted by sunshine-dayhome on November 6, 2015 at 3:20 PM Comments comments (0)

An important part of my dayhome is setting up inspirations for play, or play provocations. These carefully arranged groupings draw the child in to play; they support creativity, free play time, and development across the domains. I try to have two or three out at all times, and change them up about once a week. If the children don't play with them at all, I switch them out, and if they love the arrangement, and play with the materials all the time, I of course leave it up for longer. I choose the play provocations based on what the children are currently interested in; this follows an emergent curriculum and almost guarantees their interest, because I simply support what they already like or are curious about.

 

In this first provocation, I made a set of textured rubbings for them to explore. You simply lay a piece of paper on top and run the crayon across it to get the imprint. Everyone loved doing this outside this past summer, so I found a way to bring it inside! Next is Where's Waldo; I got the idea when I noticed how drawn the children were to the binoculars at play group last week. It was really fun for me to gather these books up for the children; a blast from my past, and I found myself even sitting down to find Waldo!

 

Finally, this simple xylophone. It was lent to me by my mother, a Waldorf teacher here in Edmonton. The simplest form of play provocation is setting out a new and unique, interesting item to explore, and the children here play with this each and every day. It will stay in the play area until their interest fades, and then be replaced by the next musical item (a harp, or maracas maybe?).

 

One final note on cost: each of these ideas cost me literally nothing at all. It can seem expensive trying to continually come up with ideas for inspirations or provocations that match the children's current needs, but by having a store of open-ended items, a library card, and a creative mind, you can easily set out great play prompts without breaking the bank. Look at what you have and think about the children you spend time with, and let the ideas flow!

Acorns!

Posted by sunshine-dayhome on September 11, 2015 at 2:50 PM Comments comments (0)

I love living in Canada because of how the seasons change, and the gifts and opportunities each one affords us. This week, the children noticed acorns on the grounds when we were on a walk, so we decided to set a date to return, armed with baskets, and begin collecting. Last year, we created acorn snakes and jingly bells with these free, natural delights; this year we will turn some into bracelets and use others for - acorn flour!

 

The children listened very well, and stayed on the sidewalk as I requested. I was quite impresses because nobody popped an acorn into their mouth. The youngest children liked shaking the acorns around their baskets, and collecting and then dumping, while the older ones were intent on finding as many of the biggest and best acorns that they could.

 

We set off home with our treasures, and bagged them up to send with families. The others I baked at a low temperature to aid in the cracking, and then we set about the laborious task of cracking open the hard acorns. A hammer or rock worked best, and it turned out that just Kaliana and Kai chad the strength and motor control to break their shells, though Ben and even Nixon can open the shells once they have cracked.

 

When we tired of shelling acorns, it was time to boil them, to take out the tannins. To shorten the process, it is recommended to chop the up a bit, which I did with blender. Boil and strain, boil and strain, repeat! Finally, the acorn pieces were ready for baking. Long and low does the trick, to avoid burning the meat of the nut. When they were fully roasted, I tried a taste: delicious! They had such a mid flavor that I wondered if perhaps I had over-boiled them; next year I may do that step only once, or skip it all together. Finally, I ground up the crisp bits some more in the blender, and we will process these last shards once more in the grain mill (think repurposed coffee grinder) before baking it into bread next Wednesday - check back for an update! This final photo is the toasted acorns before grinding.

Fall Rain Walk

Posted by sunshine-dayhome on September 4, 2015 at 3:05 PM Comments comments (0)

This one short week has brought so many changes. The biggest is that Kaliana and Kai are now both in grade school, full time! I am proud and happy about this, of course, and also feeling a little sad and confused (how did that happen? Weren't they just toddlers, like, the other day??). Here they are, set to depart for their first full day of school this year.

 

The days are different now, with them gone and fall suddenly upon us. Isn't it remarkable how last week on Thursday, it was 26 degrees and we were sweating in the sun, while this week on Thursday, we were all wearing mittens as we headed off to the park? The seasons are changing abruptly, and I am bringing back our fall schedule. We have morning snack inside, and only after it has warmed up a bit do we head back out. If the weather is nice enough to dine without mittens, we will still enjoy lunch and snack outside, but those days are numbered! Today when we ventured out, it was raining.

 

Having two big kids off to school means more umbrellas for the rest of us, as you can see from these four happy ducklings! We walked around the block, examining our umbrellas closely and trying to stay together, before dashing off into the park. I really savor how it feels to be outside - wonderful - as compared to how it looked outside - awful and cold. We all perked up with a nice fall shower today.

 

Lemon Loaf

Posted by sunshine-dayhome on July 24, 2015 at 2:30 PM Comments comments (0)

This week has been a bit slow and rainy, which is sometimes a nice change of pace in our busy, hot summers. Throughout the school year, we bake each week, but in the summer we are often outside more and baking less. Because of that, I decided that when we do cook together, we will make double batches so we can always have fresh baking without preservatives to look forward to - and this week, it was lemon loaf.

Apparently I haven't baked with Ben very often, because he was ecstatic about the whole thing! He was so excited about each step: adding the eggs, mixing the butter and sugar together, even pouring in the vanilla was a reason to celebrate. He kept saying, "Wow, I can't believe it! Wow!". He was also really using his vocabulary as he commented on the batter as it formed: "It looks really smooth . . . And look, now it's white with the milk! It's going yellow again . . . and now it's all lumpy!". It was quite fun to bake with someone who was so engaged and exhilarated by the whole process.

We made one loaf the traditional way, and I poured the glaze on top when it was cooked, and the other loaf? We mixed in some frozen blueberries for an extra hit of colour and good fruit flavor. The boys gobbled it up with cream cheese for snack, and declared it delicious.

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.

 

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!