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



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John Janzen Nature Centre

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

On this rainy Friday, we headed out to John Janzen Nature Centre. This is an amazing facility here in Edmonton that has a huge indoor playground, a real bee hive, many walking trails outside, a hands-on nature exploration room, and much more. It was the perfect place to burn off some energy on this springtime rainy day.

The children were so excited and eager to be here and play that I barely saw them the whole time we were there! I caught glimpses of Lilly climbing the stairs and shooting down the slide, and Keenan and Saxon went spelunking in the cozy cave. There were also foam acorns for them to share, roll, and experiment with, so they were kept quite busy this morning. It makes me happy to live in a city with so many opportunities to learn, grow, and play on a rainy day. 

How Does Your Garden Grow?

Posted by sunshine-dayhome on May 26, 2017 at 2:15 PM Comments comments (0)

Our garden is growing quite well, thank you! Every year I take a chance and plant outside well before May long weekend, and every year so far - it has paid off. Even the beans and corn, which tend to rot in cold damp soils, have sporuted yet again! We are especially excited about the corn this year, because instead of table corn (last year's delicious variety was called Cuppa Joe) we are growing pink popcorn! I really hope it works; it will be gorgeous and a high fibre whole grain tasty treat. The early start should give it enough time, but we'll see . . . I love that the children are just as excited as I am about our seeds sprouting; here they are scouting the garden for new growth!

The other new thing we are trying this season is potatoes. I was really excited to see them coming up, because though I've seen full-grown plants before - and of course, many varieties of potatoes - I've never seen them just beginning to sprout.  Can't wait to see if they taste as good as everyone says they will . . . It's so great having everything in the yard turning green and lush again. Here are the boys again, relaxing and swinging under the blossoming apple tree. We are so happy spring is here!

Outdoor Enhancements

Posted by sunshine-dayhome on May 19, 2017 at 3:00 PM Comments comments (0)

Spring has limitless possibilities, and I am so excited to be rolling out some new ideas this season. I have redesigned our digging area, to make it more like a sand pit and less like a dirt/mud hole. Hopefully this is still just as fun for them as it is easy to clean for me; the last two times I have tried a digging area it just didn't work, either because huge holes were being lifted out of my turf or unmanageable amounts of mud were being tracked everywhere. I like to enjoy the yard just as much as the children do, and I can't do that if clods of dirt are everywhere! This is my latest solution - so far, it works very well!

While I dream up ideas for an outdoor play kitchen (so many ideas, so little space!), I have turned my focus to organization. There are many loose parts to play with in the yard, and while almost all of them get good use and a lot of play, clean up time has been problematic lately, to say the least. There just seems to be no clear organization or direction to guide the children as we tidy at the end of the day. I have tried to solve this issue with a simple tool that utilizes cognitive skills as it develops early literacy: symbols.

After I pared down our materials, tossing those that no longer served us, I wiped down this old storage unit and labelled each shelf with a picture, and an arrow to show which shelf the toys go on. When that was done, I invited all of the children over to take a look. They were very pleased! They were so proud that they could identify all of the symbols (even the funky ones, like the car I attempted) and delighted in telling me that the arrow means "It goes UP!". Now, all we have to is see if they can follow the new system. I asked them to remind their friends how to use the system if they needed help, so hopefully that helps. ;) We will try this for the next two weeks, and if all goes well I am investing in new outdoor cars and bubble sets for everyone to use!

Spring Has Sprung!

Posted by sunshine-dayhome on May 12, 2017 at 3:35 PM Comments comments (0)

Our days here are changing a lot, mainly because we are spending so much more time outside. I really enjoy living in a place where the seasons change, and the scenery, and the amount of daylight we get. Though sometimes it would be nice to live in perpetually sunny California, I wouldn't be able to trade our autumn leaves, winter snow, or spring buds for anything. For example, check out the gorgeous flowers coming up in the yard!

The other exciting thing happening outside is the garden. We have chosen our veggies - beans, popcorn, sunflowers, pumpkins, potatoes, cukes, beets, carrots, peas, and tomatoes - and planted it together. Now the watching and waiting happens. This is the fourth year I have had the pleasure of offering an immersive garden experience to the children, where they are able to walk and play directly in the garden without damaging any of the tender shoots. They already are so happy with the beanpole tepee, and that's even before any beans have started to sprout. I will keep posting updates on how the garden is growing, and the effect it has on the children and our time spent outside together. 

Outdoor Easel!

Posted by sunshine-dayhome on May 5, 2017 at 2:35 PM Comments comments (0)

I am so excited to announce that finally, an idea kicking around my head for the last two or three years has come to fruition. Ever since I came across this neat idea for encouraging art and creativity outside, I have wanted to build one for everyone here to enjoy - and just this past weekend, I did. This is the outdoor easel now proudly standing in the side yard. Its design is very simple, but it's also super sturdy and should last for years.

The children were interested in it right away, and curious about how many pictures they could create. They even wanted to learn how to clean it off again, which is an excellent skill to have! ;) I have so many ideas for things to do with this Plexiglass easel over the next couple of months. We started with window crayons and markers (crayons worked best), and I have some dry-erase crayons to use once we are done with the window crayons. I want to avoid using dry erase markers because of the chemicals and odor, but we can try chalk, pastels, paint . . . The sky is the limit! I am also planning on picking up some squeegees so they can have fun with soap, bubbles, and rinsing and wiping the board clean. Believe it or nor, they love cleaning, they love helping, and I love this sneaky way of teaching them self-sufficiency, self-help skills, and fine motor skills at the same time. 

Unstructured Play Time

Posted by sunshine-dayhome on April 28, 2017 at 2:35 PM Comments comments (0)

People that know this dayhome understand how important it is for us here to have a lot of unstructured, free play time. Children really do grow and develop best, across all areas of development, when they are allowed time and space to explore the world on their terms, following their own interests, and supporting learning through hands-on play activities of their own choosing. There are always many things I'd like to do with the children - baking, painting, nature walks, and more spring to mind - but I am very selective about when and how often we follow my agenda. This gives them the chance to plan time for themselves, learn about themselves, develop their own skills, and have a lot of fun in the process!

This week, I had to stop and take a picture of Lilly and Saxon laying on the floor together and blowing bubbles. They were the only two here during that time, and I had just brought out the awesome non-spill bubble containers for them to enjoy. They lay there for a long time, giggling and rolling around together while blowing and kicking at the bubbles they made together. In that important moment of free play time that existed because I don't fill their schedule to the brim, they increased social skills, fine and gross motor skills, used cognitive abilities as they learned how best to blow bubbles and how to work together, and much more. It was so fun to see them play, and warmed my heart to realize how far these two have come in friendship and growth over these past months and years together.

Another great moment of free play time happened when the children were roaming aimlessly and engaging in boisterous play more suited for outside. At the end of the day, as I'm sure you can relate, sometimes things go haywire! When that hapens, I try to bring out a calming fine motor or manipulative activity to redirect their behaviour and play into more appropriate avenues. This simple elastic open ended offering did just the trick. Children learn through play. Their work is play, and when they are here with me, they work hard at what they do! I'm so pleased to be here to support them on the journey. Remember, it takes a lot of slow to grow!

Seed Babies

Posted by sunshine-dayhome on April 19, 2017 at 2:35 PM Comments comments (0)

With Earth Day coming up and many plants budding in the garden to match, this morning we all created seed babies. I ran across this idea in one of my gardening books, and and when I saw it I knew it was perfect for the gang here at Sunshine Dayhome! The best part is it becomes a portable, gorgeous, living necklace when the seed has sprouted, and you just need tiny baggies, paper towels, seeds, and water. Big seeds like beans and pumpkins are best because they sprout and grow fast, and their size makes it easy for little fingers to manipulate.

Every child began by spraying their paper towel square thoroughly with water, then we slid the soaked paper into the labelled baggies. I had already punched a hole in them to thread string through, to make wearable plant jewelry for after they sprout. Then, with the bags ready, everyone selected a bean - royal burgundy beans, in this case - and tucked it between the clear plastic and the moist paper towel. I hung them in the window when they were all ready, and when we come back from this long weekend they should have all sprouted into delicate, beutiful bean baby necklaces!

Easter crafts and treats

Posted by sunshine-dayhome on April 13, 2017 at 3:15 PM Comments comments (0)

It is wonderful having something to look forward to, and this spring is already bringing with it so many pleasures. From the plants budding again in the garden - hello rhubarb, tulips, and hollyhocks! - to the seeds we just sowed for later transplanting (mint, pumpkins, mirabilis, and gourds, we can't wait!) much good green pleasure and sweet anticipation is in store. For today though, we will share some of that spring sweetness in the form of a cake.

The children and I made the carrot cake together, from a huge carrot that was as long as my forearm. Hopefully the bottom, which is hollowed out now and filled with water hanging in the front window, will grow into a green leafy basket, but I can tell you one thing - that whole wheat carrot cake, with its decadent white chocolate cream cheese frosting, was delicious! It was just one of the many delights forming this year's spring celebration, along with a neat craft that will turn into a healthful afternoon snack.

We will play the Swiss Dzupfa game this afternoon, where we crack hard boiled eggs as I share my heritage and cultural traditions with the children, but wrapping eggs with string would be impossibly difficult for this age group - and Saxon had his heart set on coloring eggs yellow. I made the dzupfa, and the children colored eggs with food safe coloring, so we can eat and enjoy them afterwards. Each child got one egg to dye, as well as more paper ones to experiment with. I am so happy that Lilly and her mom Chantelle could be there with us today too!

Back to the farm!

Posted by sunshine-dayhome on April 7, 2017 at 4:40 PM Comments comments (0)

Well, the time has come - the chicks and ducks have grown so much, it's time for them to return to the farm. The children cuddled them, cooed over them, helped feed them, bathed them and watched them grow. We have enjoyed them so much, but now it's time to say goodbye. Luckily, we had the opportunity to go on a field trip and see their forever homes.

It was wonderful to see full grown chickens, ducks, turkeys, and more. We even got to see baby goats nursing! It was very special for us all to see what full-grown ducks and chickens looked like, and to be able to place the tiny chickies in the forever homes together.  

Chicks and Duckies!

Posted by sunshine-dayhome on March 31, 2017 at 3:45 PM Comments comments (0)

This time of year is so incredibly awesome, because we like to start spring with a bang - or, rather, a crack. This year's cracking eggs include 7 cute chickies and 8 darling duckies! We have never had the pleasure of hatching ducks before, and they are amazingly cute. They wag their tails, wiggle their tongues, and make an incredible mess - I recently learned that this is why they are called "fowl". They foul up their breeder something awful!

Having tiny feathered friends around is a great experience for the children here. We get to watch them play, learn about their behaviours and how to take care of them, and practice gentle touching. Keeping them in an aquarium and then a playpen, as they grow, is perfect because they are visible all the time yet still protected from poky fingers and grasping little hands. The children this year were lucky enough to see some of these guys hatch!

More than any other year, I am very happy with the home they are going to when they turn a little older and are no longer cute but stinky, flightly, and pecky (that happens startlingly fast, by the way). In a week or two they are headed to my dad's place out in the country! He and his wife are taking all of our chicks and ducks, and I am delighted because it means we get to watch them grow. How's that for keeping it in the family?