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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 :) 

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!

Sensory Field Trip

Posted by sunshine-dayhome on April 17, 2015 at 2:50 PM Comments comments (0)

This week, I would like to share with you a sensory field that we enjoyed. We had the chance to take part in a free watercolour painting workshop, put on by 4Cats Art Studios (a fantastic and original place to have a child's birthday party, by the way!). As we were a little early, we stopped to smell the flowers. It was so fun to watch them darting around, sticking their little noses everywhere and taking it all in!

 

Finally, it was time. This simple project involves dipping a Q-Tip into watercolour paint in the primary shades. Then, the children were able to make the discovery of how two shades combine to make a new one. The finished product was a colourful heart, which is now proudly on display on our art wall.

 

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 . . .

Easter

Posted by sunshine-dayhome on March 26, 2015 at 2:15 PM Comments comments (0)

I am writing a day early today, because tomorrow we will hopefully be too busy watching baby chicks hatch! They have been incubating for 3 weeks, and their arrival is due any day now. I think two might have pipped already! I wanted to share those pictures next week, and so this week, a little early, I will show you the Easter items I have offered the children to play with.

 

I love making environmental enhancements that double as play things. These bunnies were sewed last year, and two 5-year-old boys helped sew the carrots! They were so engaged in their work. It is great watch the new children here playing with these gems.

 

To go along with the chicks and eggs that are hatching, I set out wooden eggs and a stuffed broody hen. Nixon loves tossing it around, and Kai snugged all of the eggs around her to look like she's roosting. Hopefully this helps the young ones make the conection between what's going on in the incubator, and what happens in real life on a farm!

 

These hand-felted eggs were a lot of fun to make last year, with some tiny chicks to go with them. They have sparkling bead eyes, but can't quite sit up on their own as I was trying to make my own pattern. To end off, here are my three bunny babes; Kaliana, Kai, and Saxon, sporting ears on each of their first Easters. Happy Easter (and hopefully happy hatching!)

 

Sensory Bins

Posted by sunshine-dayhome on March 20, 2015 at 2:15 PM Comments comments (1)

This week, we were lucky enough to attend a free morning of sensory bin play hosted by Born 2 Create at Bonnie Doon Mall. There were five bins set up on tarps, and we spent some time at each one. To choose from were an ocean theme with shells and watering cans, blocks and stacking containers, pom-poms and cups, and a spy bin with lentils, magnifying glasses, and playing die. By far the favourite was the box with trucks and rocks, though - we will be setting this up at home for sure!

It was very impressive how little was thrown or placed in the mouth by any of the children. I was a little worried about the rocks, but Nixon and Saxon did great; they kept them to use for driving on and filling up dump trucks with. Actually, this is the only dumping that really happened!

While we normally visit the mall only once or twice each year, to get popsicles in the summer or hot chocolate in the winter, I think we just may taking advantage of their monthly children's programs from now on. They had so much fun, I got new ideas for the dayhome, and we all really enjoyed the change of pace.

They were so engaged with this bin. Saxon was trying to pour gravel from his shovel into the can, Kai was closely examining the mix of gravel and fine blue sand, and Nixon was enjoying the feeling of the gravel on his skin. Each of the youngest two did try tasting the gravel - but only once!

Christmas

Posted by sunshine-dayhome on December 18, 2014 at 2:30 PM Comments 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!!

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.

September!

Posted by sunshine-dayhome on September 5, 2014 at 4:15 PM Comments comments (0)

It is back to school time! Kali and Kai prepare for their first days in their new school, the WISE (Waldorf Independent School of Edmonton). I am so glad they got in!

We have some new faces in the dayhome, and are back to our old routines. Here is the playgroup we attend each week, with the children eagerly reuniting with their familiar toys.

It feels nice to be back in the swing of things.