Saturday, August 28, 2010

Taking a Break

I won't be posting for a little while. There has been a decline in the health of the boys Grandma and we want to be by her side during this time, as well as our families. I will continue to blog when I can.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Muffin Making

Cooking with children has always been a great thing... so much learning going on. I love it because of all that learning, but also because it is something they all love to do. It keeps energetic, curious little people busy for more than 3.5 minutes. There is talking, measuring, mixing, counting, problem solving (what do you do when the 2 yr old knocks over the water), and interaction between the ages. The older kids learn patience, the Little's learn turn taking, the way the 2 yr olds watched the big kids so intently, was priceless. And at the end... We get some yummy treats to eat!!

This Muffin Making project was done yesterday... but due to some family matters I wasn't able to get it on until today. We had a muffin eating good time!!!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

What We've Been Doing


Miss Beth came to visit with her new Little Guy... I think our Little Man may have a new built in friend to play with!!

Little Man relaxing after filling his belly!!

Big Kids playing together after a long absence... It's fun to have Miss Beth and her gang come and play!!!

We have been getting used to having new kids at daycare this week. Our routine will have to be tweaked, some friends will have to learn patience, and we will have to get used to having an even more flexible schedule. So, this week we have just been free choice playing, learning where things belong, and playing with new and old friends. The first couple of weeks of a new year is always the hardest, but if you put the time and effort into it, you will reap the rewards later on!!

Monday, August 16, 2010

One on One Time

Monday, Monday!!!

Today, it was just me and Little Miss M. What a wonderful day we had together. We went on a walk, taking our time to look at bugs, flowers, and pretty mailboxes. When we got home, we found this swing in the closet (been there for awhile, since she was just a baby) and we took it out and put it up in the playroom for a little swinging fun. There was giggling, laughing and lots of yells for "Higher, Shell, Higher!!"

We also got out some infant toys for our new friends Little Man & Sprout. We know that Little Man won't play much with them, but Sprout and Little Miss M will no doubt have lots of fun using them for a while, until they realize they are "big girls" now. Especially this little tent, they love the door and the cozy feel of it, but it's not all closed in.

Who says Monday's are hard... Today was wonderful!!!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Another New Friend!!

We Welcomed another New Friend to Child Care today!! Our Spunky Sprout visited today, by herself!! She was a Pro!! After an initial hesitation at drop off, she transitioned into our play with ease. She enjoyed the musical instruments the kids were playing with, and went on from there to try everything!! How amazing it is to watch a child explore a new environment!!
Outside was Sprouts favorite part of the morning!!! She loved exploring, going into the house, playing in the sandbox, and swinging in the toddler swing!! When we came in (it was 90 degrees by mid morning) she kept taking my hand and leading me to the yard door, saying, "outside."

Inside, Sprout had a lot of fun with coloring, exploring the magnet bucket, playing in the sand sensory table, and exploring her new surroundings!!

Sprout, I am soooo excited that you have come to play and learn with us. You are an amazing, happy little girl!! I am so proud that your Mommy & Daddy picked me to watch you and spend time with you. I know you & I will have lots of fun!!!
Welcome, Welcome, Welcome!!!!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

A Little Time Outside

Hanging Out With Friends
(I love bare feet)

A little Sand & Water Play

The Mud Pie Kitchen is an Okay addition to our yard, but that darn pump stopped working within a couple hours of adding sand/dirt. The kids enjoy it and something has got to be said for the amount of time they TRY to get the pump to work.
We haven't been spending to much time outside. It is in the high 90's and today seemed like 110 with the humidity. They (the infamous weather people) say it should cool down to the 80's this weekend... we can only hope :)

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Little Man

Welcome Little Man!!!!
We have waited sooooo long for this moment!! I remember the day I found out about your pending birth, it seems like yesterday. I was so excited. Now you are here. You were met with open arms, lots of smiles and curiosity on your first day at Shell's house. The kids couldn't wait to make you laugh, to touch your little feet, and all that hair... they loved it.

You are such a happy, gorgeous baby!! I love your smell, your eyes, and the way you are so intent on picking up your head to look around and watch those kids. You have done so good today. I am so glad your here!! Welcome, Welcome, Welcome... your a perfect addition to our Child Care Family!!!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Classroom Layout & Curriculum

I hate not having photos to show, but today we were busy moving and shaking things up around here. We are trying to put our room back together for the new school year. Trying to make it a Toddler and Preschool friendly place has been interesting. Not hard, per se. I think it will be similar to last year, having our playroom be our school room. Using the wood floor part as our Messy area and Science/Math/Nature area. Using the rugged area as our blocks, dramatic play, literacy/writing areas. It worked well last year and I think it will be good this year too.

We also need an infant area. Now, he will follow us where ever we may be, but I like to have a spot for us to play in when the preschoolers are napping. That will be in the living room. I think it is coming together. I will take some photos tomorrow and post them.

I have been hemming and hawing about a curriculum to use this year. I have always tweaked whatever curriculum I use to go with the interests of the kids. We really use more of an Emergent Learning Curriculum. I just have to be flexible with whatever I use. I love to have a direction to start with, but then if the kids take it in a different direction, that's great. I guess I feel like I need to have a reason to put a Pendulum out for the kids to experiment with. That if I put it on a table during a Animal theme, I am doing something wrong. Like, "How do I work this in to what we are doing??" Where as if I start out with an Animal theme and the kids get hooked on monkeys... I feel ok with getting the Pendulum out to show how the monkey swing from tree to tree, and let it sky rocket from there. I want to get over that though, and just be able to put it out and see where it takes the kids. Maybe, just maybe, they will find a connection that I didn't even know existed. AHHH... Emergent Learning at it's best.

Ok, so I haven't decided on which curriculum to use, but which ever I do decide on, I will use it as a guide, not as a concrete schedule. If anyone has any ideas or suggestions... please let me know. Thanks!!!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Monday, Boys & Play Guns

Monday, Monday... After a very hot weekend, running around gathering Teaching Supplies, School Supplies, and Yard Work, we have gathered back together to start a new week. My house is the house to be. Kids knock on the door all morning (they know now to stay away between 1 & 3), wondering if the kids can play.

The neighborhood gathered to form a war game, there are a lot of boys in the neighborhood. They ran and played for over an hour. I was so busy watching and enjoying the communication, problem solving, and camaraderie, I forgot to take photos. Oh, well.

It is interesting how boys love to play war. They spend time coming up with teams, problems to be solved, rules and boundaries. They gather supplies, ammo (invisible this time, sometimes Nerf ammo though) and an arsenal of play guns. Mostly Nerf, but tree branches have been known to make it into the mix a time or two. Then off they go, to happily "kill" one another.

Now, as a Mom to 4 boys, I went through the stage of my home being a "No Gun" Zone. I wanted to raise sensitive and non-violent sons. I wouldn't even have squirt guns. My husband thought I was crazy, the ol' "I grew up playing war, and I turned out ok" saying was played over and over again. One day, I was watching, my then 3 yr old twins, take their Little People and set up a battle between them. Another day, we were outside and they took their medicine droppers and were shooting water at each other, screaming, "I Get You, I Get You!!" This moved up to tree branches that turned to guns. Did my kids watch war movies?? No. Did I promote killing, maiming, or terrorizing in my home?? No. Did the girls next door play that way?? No. Yet, here were my young boys doing everything I was trying to keep them from knowing about. Huh.

I researched, I read books, I talked to other parents. I realized that most boys tend to go through this phase. That it is a part of evolution, teaching our boys to be men. To get them ready to be a provider for their family. Sometimes it can be about working through emotions and things they have seen or heard. I decided that instead of pretending these emotions and feelings didn't exist, I would take a proactive approach. I would talk to them, role play, set boundaries, and give them the ability to feel confident and comfortable to act out these actions. Maybe that is why they can play guns for an hour with the neighborhood kids and then in the next hour sit and have tea with the Little's at Daycare.

I don't know the right answer to this. Guns or No Guns. I don't criticize anyone who doesn't allow gun play, it is their children. My children are respectful of friends who can't play. I just make sure all my families know that play guns are in my home. No real ones, but plenty of play ones. We don't play war games in preschool, at least not with the Nerf Guns, but that doesn't mean it doesn't exist outside in the yard. At least once a day one of the preschool boys picks up a stick and uses it as a sword or a gun, sometimes it turns into a group game, other times it is just that one child running around conquering pretend dinosaurs or bad guys. So, the circle continues.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Goop, Volcano's, & Outside Time

Well, it was another fun, busy morning!!! After a rainy and windy night we found that a tree fell down in the back yard, so we had to spend some time in the front instead today. I am hoping some of this tree can be used in the play space outside... maybe a balance beam??

I set out some cornstarch, water, and watercolors in the messy area, they went to town. I think I will find that residue throughout my house for a week. I am not sure when these types of experiences/experiments got boring to the big kids. I guess it must be between 10 and 12, because the 9 yr olds still found it to be quite entertaining, the bigger boys thought the entertaining part would be to see how much they could get on the table and each other. Oh, to be young. The Little's loved it most when it had just a little to much water, it was not quite the "Goop" we all know, but it still was an interesting consistency. One they could sink their hands, arms and elbows into and really get the feel of. All in all.... A Success :)

I then had to take all the kids outside as they were getting into that wrestling mode that boys get into (no matter the age... my husband is one of the worst offenders). I suggested a few activities they could play, but wanted them to come up with something... even if it was just sitting together and talking. I remember many summer days spent on someones front porch talking, hashing out the troubles of the world, and making up some great games to play. These kids were not into it today. They came up with Capture the Flag... but couldn't agree on rules, then basketball... nope, not enough in agreement, finally I suggested 4-square. They played for a while, I had to break up some disagreements, but all in all... a success. Ahhhh, the many hats of a Child Care Provider.

Finally... what everyone was waiting for... A Volcano Explosion!!! We got all the ingredients together and off they went. The Little's loved watching!! The sizzle sound the baking soda and vinegar makes when they meet had the Little's enchanted. They kept looking at me as soon as they came into contact with each other. I think they liked the sound better than the explosion. The kids experimented with this for about 15 or so minutes before walking away... I had to bring them back to clean up... not something any 9 to 12 yr old boy likes to do. The mess making is great, but clean up... Forget about it!!! But, they did good.

We didn't get to the Mento's Explosion today.... Miss Michelle was exhausted!!! Keeping up with this group today took all I had :) I promised them on Monday or Tuesday we would do it, depending on who would be here on those days. Plus, I want to purchase the Geyser Cylinder to drop the Mentos into the Dt. Coke... I think it will be better for me. I am only hoping that 1 bottle of Dt. Coke will be enough :) These boys seem to want to do it over and over again!!!

I took to many photos, so I put them in the Smilebox again... hope you enjoy!!!

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Thursday, August 5, 2010

A Volcano Kind of Day

Another HOT day here in North Carolina... I love the weather, but sometimes it's just to hot to spend a lot of time outside. We have another week of 90 degree weather next week too, so I think I will have to get creative :)

This morning, after much moping around by the "big" boys, I sat them down and gave them lots of options to occupy their time. They ranged from science experiments to cleaning the yard... they went for the science experiments. We decided to create a Volcano... it did take some encouragement on my part to get my OWN boys to participate, but when the flour came out and I handed the directions over to them, they join right in. They really enjoy being given the responsibility to take a project from beginning to end. Working with the little ones, I forget that.

So, we get the dough made, knead it with LOTS of flour, getting the Littles involved in this part, and then make our Volcano's... only to find I don't have enough vinegar. Tomorrow will be a wonderful day to explode some Volcano's though :) I think we will try the Mento & Dt. Coke experiment!! The boys are real excited about that. I love Boys!!!

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Wednesday, August 4, 2010

A little of This... A little of That

We had a full house today... play dates going on with the school agers, child care kids making their way back into the routine of coming to Shell's House, and the odd neighborhood friend coming to the door... Wow.... I love being busy!!

We didn't really have a "Play Plan" today, we just wanted to get to know each other again... so we just did a little of this and a little of that!! And we had a lot of fun doing it too!!

We got the blocks out and made some great block buildings, cities, and even had a go at connecting some of the foam blocks together.

Painting has always been a favorite of Little Miss M, and she was very happy to find them in the same place as when she left. Once she got them out, we all had to have a go at it!!

We also got a great idea from Miss Tracy, who ,she wants me to say, got it from another source... but, it is a Special Paper board. I will take a picture when it dries, so you can see the finished project... Lots of fun, glue, glitter glue, and foamies.

I think that this was one our favorite activities today... the preschool boys (Little Miss M had a go at it, but quickly gave it back over to those silly boys) made a large block city and then proceeded to run and jump over it (Like Spider Man) landing in the large bean bag chair, all while holding and throwing the infamous Kitty's. A lot of laughter and camaraderie going on between 2 boys who haven't seen each other in quite a while.
We also went outside and played in the sandbox, on the swings and spent quite a while collecting tiny plastic BB's from the ground. We have been gone for the past 3 weeks and the yard became totally overgrown. Of course our lawn mower is on the fritz... must get that done, we will be spending most mornings out there, while it is still relatively cool out.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

NAFCC & Teaching the 3 C's

Well, today was my first day back to work after a 3 week break. It was good to be back, yet it reminds of me of all the things I have to do.

But first.... NAFCC!! If I had to pick I would have to say Patricia Dischler, Teaching the 3 C's, was my favorite. She was great. A great motivator, a great speaker and a wealth of information. I took 2 of her mini workshops, but I kick myself that I didn't take her 4 hour intense workshop. I think I would have gotten so much more out of that than the one I took on Accreditation, but you live and learn. This being my first time at the National Conference, I wasn't sure exactly what to expect. I am used to signing up for multiple workshops, then going to those, this was first come first serve to each workshop. It was organized great and I never had a problem getting into a workshop. I liked it.
I have been reading Patricia's book, Teaching the 3 C's, it really hits home for me. She is able to put into words what we do or want to do on a daily basis. Teaching our children through Creativity, Curiosity, & Courtesy... that is what makes good human beings. Patricia not only talks about why it is important to work in these areas, but how. She gives real example of how she put them into practice. Sometimes I read books like this and think, "Yeah right, it's great in theory, but the author never really DID those things." In attending Patricia's workshops, I got to see photographs of her in action. Of really DOING what she preached... do you know she went on a Field Trip EVERY week... over 900 field trips in her career as a FCC Provider. WOW!!! That isn't counting the people she had come to her home.
I have always wanted to have "speakers" come into the house and expose the kids to wonderful things... but I have always felt that having only 5 kids and out of those at least 1 a baby, that the speaker would look at me like I was nuts. Reading this book and hearing Patricia speak gave me the understanding that it doesn't matter. It doesn't matter that I don't have 12 kids sitting waiting for a speaker, actually it can be a whole lot more informative and fun if there are only a few kids to hear, It doesn't have to be a big, long, sit down speech... find someone who gets the kids moving, has something to see or has a story to tell. Giving the kids the ability to practice their Courtesy skills while interacting with new people, asking questions, and have the confidence to do those things.
I also brought out of the workshop the validation to be silly, and not to forget to be silly. Kids love Silly.... I was talking to my sister, while on vacation, and we were recalling how, as the only Provider (aka... adult) in the house on most days, you talk to yourself, out loud. The kids look at you like your crazy, then you say, "Miss Michelle is losing her marbles today" or "Miss Michelle took her silly pills today" or just keep talking out loud about nothing... they love it. During one of Patricia's workshops she had us working in groups to take something as mundane as a toilet plunger (clean, of course) and find a fun way to incorporate it into the kids play. (We came up with... gear shift, sword, telephone, limbo stick, ring toss... my favorite was Patricia's, she would stick it to a clean floor and have the kids pull it up, almost impossible, and totally fascinating to the kids) While finishing up, she got on a chair, put a colorful sheet on her head and waited. Of course she got our attention, and gave us another option to yelling, stomping, or losing our patience when the kids get in that "out of control" mode and you need to rein them in.
So, let's just say that I learned a lot from Patricia Dischler. I enjoyed her and her workshops very much. I wish she were still doing child care, I think the kids of Wisconsin are missing out :) I also feel that I can take what I learned from her and her book and put it into practice this year. That the kids in my care will get so much more this year, the motivation I got from just these 2 workshops is immense, but I attended others that were almost as motivating!! So, I have a lot to incorporate into our days this year!! I can't wait to see the kids joy!!!