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Physical Activities Outside

Posted by sunshine-dayhome on March 24, 2017 at 3:00 PM Comments comments (0)

A huge part of our time together is spent outside, even when it's wet or cold or hot or - anytime! Unless the temperature drops below -20 with the wind chill, we enjoy outside time each and every time. I love how, when we step outside, fighting and attention-seeking behaviours drop away and the children settle in almost immediately to their work and play. Megan, my dayhome consultant, recently asked what kinds of activities we do out there, so I thought I would share with you some of the many physical activities the children engage in when we are in the back yard these days. 1. Swinging! They climb on the rope ladder, sit on the bottom rung, and kick back and forth. They also swing on the hammock, which for the two and three's is a challenge just to climb into. 2. Digging! We have several child-sized shovels, which are real tools, with a wooden shaft and sturdy metal blade and handle. I teach them how to use the tools safely, and then they head off to dig holes, move chunks of snow, and chip at ice. They also learn a lot of spatial awareness as I guide them in making sure they keep a safe distance from one another 3. Climbing! We have two small slides and a little backyard fort, and they absolutely love going up and down the climbing walls and stairs. I am especially proud of the way they have learned to share the space, create inclusive games, and figure out safe ways of passing one another on the slide, climbing walls, and stairs. 4. Running! One of the best things to do outside is run and scream with a happy voice. The big benefit in daily outdoor play time is knowing that my reminders to walk and use an inside voice won't be needed here. There's a time and place for everything, and kids definitely need a time and place to run around making joyful noises, loud and quiet. 5. Exploring! The space out there lets them move their bodies in so many ways it's hard to count them. They walk, hop, jump and run. They chase each other, sneak around, make their bodies tiny and huge. They balance on lines, cracks, logs, and whatever else they can find. They heave huge chunks of snow and form tiny snowballs. They crouch down, stretch up high, crawl around, splash in puddles, and crack the perfect skims of ice that form on those gorgeous transitional days between winter and true spring here in Alberta. Through it all, they are working on those developmental skills, with the space, guidance, and fresh air they need for support. I love it - and so do they.

Family Involvement

Posted by sunshine-dayhome on March 17, 2017 at 4:25 PM Comments comments (0)

One aspect of running a dayhome which is very important to me is involving the families of the children who attend. When we work together and communicate to support the children, they have a solid base that allows them to grow and thrive. I am so pleased that the families here play such a big part in making this dayhome a success! When we had our winter party, almost every family attended. When grandmothers bake with their children at home, cookies are sent in. We have received garden produce in the summer months, too, which enhances our menu here - thank you!

Recently, Oscar and Arlo's mother came in to read a festive story from her background and beliefs with us, and it was such a treat to watch the children become immersed in a different culture for the afternoon. We even had cupcakes to share as part of our snack after! And this week, Emile's family sent us some shamrocks. After we had played with them for the last few days as toys in loose parts play (so fun and skill building!), the children decided that today was the day: we were going to paint those shamrocks.

It was cute how Saxon kept calling it his leprechaun (that was the craft we made a couple of days ago), and Keenan gently and persistently went on correcting him. At the end of our painting time this morning, I think all of the children were able to correctly identify shamrocks and leprechauns! We had a green pasta lunch (mm, avocados and spinach with chicken!), and this afternoon will enjoy a green smoothie together to round out this day. Here is one last big thank you to all the families, parents, and grandparents out their who support their children, enhance this dayhome, and work to bridge the gap between family and home so that we as a community can thrive. You are so appreciated!

So much fun!

Posted by sunshine-dayhome on March 3, 2017 at 2:40 PM Comments comments (0)

This week has been just packed with excitement and merriment in so many forms. First, I set duck eggs in the incubator, and so far so good! There are 15 eggs, and if all goes well we should have some tiny little peepers hanging out with us at the end of March.

Another treat this week was having Oscar and Arlo's mother come and share one of their family's celebrations with us,  through a book and cupcakes. It is really important for me to have families feel welcome here, so that we can work together to support the children. This was a great way of doing that! Last, the weather has been so nice, we have had so much fun outside play time. The children were on the rope ladder, hammock, digging in snow, and so much more.


Posted by sunshine-dayhome on February 24, 2017 at 3:50 PM Comments comments (0)

Creativity is something valued very highly here, so when the boys discovered these large egg crates and wanted to paint them, I was all for it. Of course, I asked, "What are we going to make them into?", but they just wanted to paint! Sometimes we don't need an end product or a specific goal. Sometimes, just grabbing an interesting canvas and some paints is enough.

The children all chose to make their crates into hills and volcanoes. Black was the color of the day, with red and orange lava, and some rocks and trees for variety. This was an engaging creative experience born of the children's own ideas and imagination. A true emergent curriculum activity, this egg crate painting was just the thing for a stimulating Friday morning!

Winter Playground Play

Posted by sunshine-dayhome on February 17, 2017 at 2:20 PM Comments comments (0)

If there's one thing we love here, it's unexpectedly warm days right after a cold snap. This week, with so many amazingly warm days, we were able to have snack outside, head off to our favorite local parks, and party like it's spring time in February! While we always have lots of fun in the backyard, there are just so many great things to do at the playground that we seized this opportunity to soak up the rays there instead of here.

I love how the children will go off and explore independently or in groups of twos or threes, then come back to have fun as one big group. |At this park, the dinosaur (Bonnie Doon) park, the biggest attractions are the dinosaur ride (clearly!) and also a fun teeter-totter like contraption. This usually seats four, with one or two sharing or perched on top. I am so proud of how they found a way to include everyone; go team! This little taste of spring days has given us the energy to make it through these last weeks of winter weather; thanks Mr. Sun!

Valentine's Day Crafts

Posted by sunshine-dayhome on February 10, 2017 at 2:10 PM Comments comments (0)

I love celebrating seasonal festivities with the children, and with Valentine's Day coming up next week I decided to focus our attentions on that theme. We tried out two different types of crafts this week, both using prints taken from our own bodies - hands, feet, and lips, to be exact! The children were overjoyed to have their toes and fingers painted; they loved the one-on-one attention they got, the cool tickly sensation of the paint being brushed on, and the gorgeous images that were created using only their hands and feet. Here's one of the gang showing off his cute tootsies!

This is what they looked like when they were done. I am really glad that the red glitter stuck to their foot prints so well; I love the contrast of the red on the dark paper. The lettering around the footprint heart says, "From the top of my head to the tips of my toes, I love you!". I'm a big fan of doing footprint or handprint crafts a couple of times a year, because as a mother I really appreciate having those to look back on as my children get older (did you know Kaliana is 10 already?!?).

The other craft took a bit more preparation. I thought last year about how cute it would be if we could make lipstick kisses to give to the parents, but couldn't figure out a sanitary way to do so. This is where having family in town comes in handy! My wonderful Grandma Kay sells Avon, and luckily for me she had a whole bag of sample sized lipsticks we could use. The children were so happy to do this! They were very interested in making kissy faces, having lipstick applied "just like Mommy", and then kissing their paper to make gorgeous prints. I made sure to wipe it all off right after just in case of any sensitivities, and because the samples were meant to be one-use only we tossed them when we were done. I love how they turned out! Before sending them home I will give them a light spray wth hairpspray just to make sure the cute kisses don't smear. Yay for adorable child-sized hearts and kisses, and Happy Valentine's Day!!

Hearts on Snowy Days

Posted by sunshine-dayhome on February 3, 2017 at 2:35 PM Comments comments (0)

Yesterday was so cold that we weren't able to play outside, so we filled our days with crafts instead. First, I broke out the materials for making bath bombs. These are so simple; you need baking soda, corn starch, citric acid, and a mister with water. It's nice if you can add some essential oils and color  too!

After mixing up the dry ingredients, start misting it lightly and stirring well. This adds moisture while preventing everything from fizzing too much. Next, you can add 6-10 drops of essential oil (we used lavender, which can be relaxing and helps induce sleep). Mix some more, and press into molds!

The next activity we tried was making wax crayons. I love this, because it's the best form of recycling there is. When our old crayons are too worn down or broken to use, I pop them into baggies just waiting for a day like today. Then I preheat the oven to about 250, gather the children to fill up silicone molds, and voila - gorgeous heart shaped crayons from what was once an unusable material. This does work better with high quality crayons, but any old kind will do. The children spent the afternoon coloring away, and were quite proud of the creations we made together on this cold and snowy wintery morning.

Winter Fun

Posted by sunshine-dayhome on January 27, 2017 at 2:35 PM Comments comments (0)

At Sunshine Dayhome, we play outside every single day. The only days we stay inside is when severe weather, like temperatures below 20 degrees Celsius with the wind chill factor, keep us in. In summer we are outside for six out of eight hours, just coming in to rest and nap away from the intense mid day sun. In the winter that time shrinks down to thirty or forty minutes, but it is still such a valuable time for us. I learned accidentally that leaving out summer play props like our hammock and rope ladder provide awesome incentive for outdoor winter fun!

In the winter, we can find many things to do to keep busy. We look for animals tracks, and make our own tracks in the snow. We can build snowballs, snow angels, snow men, or just watch the birds and planes flying in the sky. Playing with natural items as loose parts play is always a hit, and you just to find a good stick, rock, feather, or pinecone to have that play happen. I love how it spurs their creativity!

Though it can be harder to move your body when you are encased in layers of thick protective padding against the cold, by providing items like these awesome plasma cars I find the children stay motivated to move their bodies all year round. The fresh air, natural scenery, direct sunlight, and big body play does wonders for their bodies and I can see them shine and smile when we are fully played out and ready to come back inside. Let the snow come, we want it to play!

Chinese New Year

Posted by sunshine-dayhome on January 20, 2017 at 3:15 PM Comments comments (0)

Every year I look for opportunities to celebrate diversity and multiculturalism in age-appropriate ways. Chinese New Year's is one of those celebrations that's fun, exciting, and adds a splash of color into these dull January days. The children really enjoy the decorations, and are learning a lot about the traditional good luck colours, foods, and festivities that surround this special time.

In the main play space here, we have a banner of the Chinese flag, Chinese lanterns, and also red and gold pillows sporting traditional designs to help us get in the mood for celebrating. Yesterday we had a special snack of seaweed, dried lotus root, coconut, and sweet rice crackers that allowed to literally get a taste for what this celebration is like. I was honestly surprised at how much the children enjoyed the multiculural food we shared!

Lanterns, apples, dragons, posters, and the tradtional colours of red and gold are gracing our shelves right now. The group this year is also very interested in learning about the Chinese zodiac animals. Right now, we have horses, a snake, dragons, dogs, and rats. It is really fun to see how much the children enjoy identifying with their animals; they have been playing out this theme all week. Finally, I introduced them to a bit of the language during our story time. If you ask the children right now to wish them a Happy New Year, they're sure to reply, "Gung hay fat choy!".

Magnetic Blocks

Posted by sunshine-dayhome on January 13, 2017 at 2:25 PM Comments comments (0)

Block play is wonderful in so many ways. It increases fine motor and cognitive skills while allowing children to build their creativity and sense of self-concept. However, there are limitations to what your average block can do. While blocks like Lego or Duplo lock together and get around limitations like balance and gravity, I strive to avoid using brightly colored plastic toys made of artificial materials here at Sunshine Dayhome. However, a new product recently came out that changes everything - Tegu magnetic wooden blocks.

Saxon got a new set for Christmas, and here he is exploring the possibilities with his friend Maddex. The set came with pictoral ideas of five different ways for building with the blocks, and the children were able to come up with unlimited other options to make the play fun, creative, and challenging. Though I think this is the first time I've ever put in a plug for any specific play item, these definitely deserve a mention. Good idea for an upcoming holiday or birthday? I think so - and so do they!