Monday, January 31, 2011

The Sniffles, Play Doh & Sharing

I have finally succumbed to the sniffles. I have been wiping runny noses, been sneezed on and reminding little ones to "catch" their germs for the last few weeks and I was happy to be staying healthy. I wash hands, sterilize toys and try to keep the germs at bay... they have finally caught up with me. So, our day was less structured and more open, free play than usual. I think the kids enjoyed it.

Little Miss M brought in her Play Doh Cupcake Maker and shared with her friends today. Since the D-Man was out today, the 3 girls had a lot of fun playing house, creating the best and yummiest cupcakes ever and being the best Mommies to their babies I have ever seen. It was also the best sharing I have seen in a long time :)

Friday, January 28, 2011

Friday Fun

I was thinking today how our "theme" weeks never technically end sometimes. We have been talking about Winter, Winter/Arctic Animals, Ice, and anything we can find that fits under that theme. I felt like we should be "wrapping things up" today, but there is so much more we want to explore. The kids are sooooo not done with ice... they love it and have been putting water in almost anything they can find and putting that in my freezer. The problem with that is that my 5 yr old son, who is at school all day now, comes home, finds it, and plays with it. I find him in the bathroom sink with 2 or 3 interesting ice creations, that I just know was some preschoolers absolute bestest ice creation in the world (as they have been saying as they put them in the freezer). So, he and I have been trying to replace them, and sometimes we can pass it off as the original, sometimes not. Ahhh, we always have another day. Thankfully my kids are pretty flexible.

Today we read some more books about Snow, Snowmen, Snowballs, and Winter Wear. We had to read the book The Mitten, by Jan Brett. An absolute favorite every year. Our preschoolers then took numbered mittens and glued them in order to make a mitten crown. Then a mitten walk (parade) was in order. We got all dressed in our Winter Wear and out we went, to bad it is getting warmer here and there is no snow on the ground. The ice in the planter out front even melted. Oh Well :)


The Alphabet was also on the agenda today... we played some games while reviewing our ABC's, earning some M&M's while we were at it. It was a lot of fun watching them get their M&M's... they were so helpful to each other, never making someone feel bad if they didn't know a letter... to cute. They each were eager to help each other. Those are the best skills that I can send them off with... compassion, confidence, problem solving (if they don't know the answer, how can they figure it out??) and the ability to make friendships. I pray everyday that I am doing that, and the other stuff... icing on the cake :)
Have a Great Weekend!!!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Yesterday & Today

I forgot to post yesterday... actually I didn't forget, I was exhausted for some reason and when all the kids left, I simple sat down and didn't get up again. Closed my eyes (when I should have been cooking dinner) and took a nice little nap. My wonderful husband and children took care of themselves and let me relax... how nice :)

Anyway... yesterday started out with one of my friends taking out a puzzle (with many pieces) and then not wanting to put it back together. So, as a group we painstakingly pieced it back together... with these two finishing it off for us... How proud!!!

We have been reintroducing our Montessori practices... which I have missed!! I reviewed with the kids how to use their mats, and trays. It seems to be helping us define our work space and even putting our work away when we are done, instead of just leaving it and walking away. Not sure how we got away from using them, I guess babies can veer you away from somethings sometimes :)

I was going through some of my drawers, in the garage, and found this lacing apple... I forgot how much they enjoy it. I think it has been used pretty much all day... I just have to remind some of the 2's to use it on their mat and put it back. They have a tendency to walk around with it.

Little Miss M practicing rolling her mat.

For snack yesterday we had Chocolate Fondue... YUMMY!!! Little Miss M & her Mom brought us special organic chocolate chips to make the fondue and we got to dip strawberries, banana's & yummy marshmallows into it. It was a big hit. My son was a great help in combining the milk and chips...

We were going to do the communal fondue pot, but with all the sickness going on and the ages, I thought double dipping was inevitable... so everyone got their own "pot" of chocolate, a fondue stick and their fruit. Lots of sticky faces, clothing and fingers.

Some liked the fruit either way... but as you can tell, the chocolate was a great addition.

Ok, Little Man couldn't have the chocolate, but he had a good time watching us anyway!!


Sprout is really doing a great job of being independent. She is trying to take her smock off, getting her whole body through the neck hole was tricky... but she did it!!

And hung it up as well... Good Job Sprout!!!

We read the book Snowballs by Lois Ehlert. It is about using "found" materials around the house to make a Snow Family. The illustrations are beautiful and just looking at them makes you want to go outside and build snowmen. Unfortunately our snow is all gone and we had to make do with paint and paper snowmen.

Each child took a silhouette snowman, taped him onto a white piece of paper and sponge painted with blue and white around him. We then took the silhouette off and whala... a perfect snowman in a blizzard :)

Little Miss M wanted to just paint the silhouette snowman... but she finally got the hang of it.

I wish we had the collage material like the book to make more exotic snowmen, but alas... we again had to make due with black paint and the back of a pencil to make the features of our snowmen. The kids didn't seem to mind.

They came out nice I think...

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Winter, Friends, Flour

We were busy beavers today... continuing our exploration of Winter and Winter Animals. At circle time Little Miss M helped us sing our weather song and then successfully named and sorted all the winter clothing she (or her friends) might wear outside on a cold day (like today).

We also talked about what animals wear outside on cold days... Humm...

Princess: "Sadie wears her fur!"
D-Man: "My dogs wear gloves... hee, hee, hee"
Mylo: "Shea wears her fur too!!"

I asked if they thought that any other animals were outside in the cold, other than dogs :) We came up with Birds, Cats, and LIONS!! (We are beginning to learn about he letter Ll this week).

I know the photo below has nothing to do with winter or winter animals, but I only have so many little animal figures... so communtiy helper people were brought out!! Remember, we are a flexible bunch here :)

The girls here were talking to each other. They decided (by eaves dropping on their friends at the sensory table) that their people would be animal trainers and the play dough the animals. To cute!!

Sprout is very intent on stacking these blocks like she saw one of the preschoolers do...

She did a really good job and was very proud of herself when she was down. She turned to me with the biggest and widest grin!! Completion of a task is wonderful in itself, but to stack all the blocks... well, that took determination!!! Great Job Sprout!!

Sprout was a busy girl today... She loved finding more community helper people in the lock box we have. She played here for 15 minutes, just talking to the little people, moving them in and out of the boxes. She finally left only when she locked one of the doors and couldn't get it open. She didn't get mad or frustrated, just kinda shrugged her shoulders and left.

The Princess worked on this homemade 100's board. We took penny's and covered each number, counting as we went. I wish I could remember what she would call the 30, 40, and 50 before she finally asked me for the correct way to say the number... something like 30 ten, I could tell she knew what she was saying was wrong, but I waited for her to self correct or ask... she finally asked and slapped her little forehead and laughed... again, too cute!!!
We also talked about the penny, what it's worth, and how many 100 is worth... she was amazed it was the same as a dollar bill.

The sensory table was a hot spot today. I put flour (snow), wintry animals, and glass gems/beads (ice)... the kids loved it!! They loved the texture of the flour, having the animals run and play, and creating landscapes for them to live in. Yet, I think the favorite thing to do was get the whole arm in the tub and get as much flour on themselves as possible. That and seeing how much they could get on their face...

This is actually a tame photo... Princess would end up with flour on her cheeks, chin and arms.

Sprout absolutely LOVED this sensory table!! The sensory table usually is a favorite of hers, but this one just appealed to her. She was laughing, giggling, touching, calling me over to check this or that out, and just reveled in the experience!! And as you can tell, she gets quite annoyed with me when I make her stop to say, "Cheese!!"

Friday, January 21, 2011

Numbers, Letters, Names

Today we reviewed our letters, names and numbers. No time to take photos though. The kids weren't 100% today... so my hands were usually holding a baby or toddler and not free to take a picture :).

We took all the sandpaper letters we have done so far this year and traced them, named them, made their sound, and then put them in ABC order. We then came up with words to go with each letter, and if the word was an animal we did something that animal did... Kk, kangaroo, hop... Cc, cow, Moo, etc... This was a fun activity.

For numbers 1 to 10, we counted, clapped, put them in order, found the correct number of items for each number and made patterns with some of the items we found. The toddlers loved finding the items and setting them under the numbers (mostly finding the items).

Then we clapped out our names, sang silly songs using the letters of our names and pointed to our names around the room. Next week I am going to make some name puzzles and put them on the light table for them to put together and tell me which name belongs to who. Princess loves to pair up with Sprout and Little Miss M and help them, and I think I might put the toddlers photo on it, they will like that :)

We also did a lot of make believe ice cream shop, building with blocks, show-n-tell, and just having fun with friends... isn't that what childhood is all about!!!
Have a Great Weekend!!!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

A Learning Kind of Day

Starting our day is a little slow with Little Man around. We have to get him fed, changed and occupied before Miss Michelle can set up the environment with messy art or learning activities that they may need help with. Yet, once we get going, fun abounds (even for Little Man).

I took out the Kk for Kite puzzle I printed from Confessions of a Homeschooler. I have to say she has the most wonderful resources for early childhood education!! I love how everything is bright, colorful, and easy for the kids to understand. In the photo above, Princess is helping the Littles complete the puzzle. Little Miss M watched her do it twice, and then took the pieces to the light table and ....

Completed this. I never thought to put them on the light table, but I will put more of my printables on there, it looks cool.

The preschoolers also did this fun activity to reinforce the differences between Uppercase K and lowercase k. Again it I printed it from Confessions of a Homeschooler. This activity is usually done as a sorting activity, just placing the correct letters on the correct side, but I had the preschoolers practice gluing and problem solving today. They needed to fit all their K's on the paper, it was tough :)

Sprout and Little Miss M also wanted in on the "homework" as they call it... so I had these Kk sheets (from Confessions of a Homeschooler) that are usually used with magnets... but we like to use our Do A Dots, they fit perfectly in the little circles. We aren't sticklers for dotting in the appropriate circles though, it is more for fun and letting the little ones feel included.

I also had out some fun "puffy paint" I made using equal parts flour, salt and water. I then put it Colorations Liquid Water Colors. I will usually put them in squeeze bottles so the kids can make more precise pictures, but today I just set it out like finger paint. The weight and texture were a lot different than traditional finger paint, the kids noticed that it was gritty due to the salt, it was thicker, and it warmed in their hands. We didn't warm it up or cook it, but the kids felt like it was cold coming out of the bowl. After much discussion and me dropping some hints, Princess figured out that it warmed up because her HANDS were warm, "kinda like when the snow melts in our hands, right Shell."

Sprout loved spooning the paint onto the tray. She had no problems using her hands, but something about manipulating that spoon intrigued her.

The 2's really love helping with everything. It is the age of learning independence, slowly making that transition of being independent of the adults around you. Practicing these self-help skills is a daily occurrence here. We have little sweepers, cups with a water jug to get water when we are thirsty, cloths to clean up spills, and dress up clothing to practice putting cloths on and taking them off. It is a sight to see when a 2 yr old gets out the wash rag, gets it wet (ok, the drippy water isn't always easy to take, but I try) and then "cleans" the table. Usually this is followed by everyone getting wash rags, dripping water from the bathroom to the playroom, and washing everything in sight. Ahhhh, the patience of a Family Child Care Provider :)

Here Sprout is putting all that practice to work trying to get out of a dress up skirt. One of the kids wanted to help her, which was met with a resounding, "NO, I DO MYSELF!!" We all sat back and watched, then applauded a job well done.

Outside Swinging... this boy loves to fly!!

(Now leave me alone!!)

I wasn't going to get another Cheese out of this one... She wanted to play, not look at my camera :)

My budding artists... they chalk painted everything insight... cars, chairs, train table... it was all I could do to make sure they didn't "paint" one another.
It was great to get back in the yard to run, jump, and play... even if it was a little muddy, that's what mud boots are for.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

K is for Kangaroo and Imagination

Yes, we finally started to talk about the letter Kk today. It has been on the circle board for 2 weeks now, but we haven't gotten to it until today. We are very lucky that Sprout got a Mama Kangaroo with a baby Kangaroo in her pouch for Christmas. She brings it to sleep with and today we talked about it.

One thing that really spiked our interest was how hard Kangaroo's could kick. Not only are they hoppers, but they use their very strong feet to protect themselves. I found a YouTube video for them to actually see a kangaroo kicking... we then talked about getting to close to "wild" animals. Even when we go to special tourist parks. Sprout wanted me to know her kangaroo does kick. She kept shaking her head when the kids were talking about it and saying, "No kick"."

We then had to try some hopping like a kangaroo for ourselves. Some of us got pretty high. Thankfully no one wanted to try the kicking part.

Little Man thought this was all very funny!!

Sprout spent a lot of time in the water table making "ketchup pies," "kooky cakes," and "kangaroo food." The whisks were a big hit.

The girls spent a lot of time today playing "baby" & "house." Here these two decided to have a tea party with their babies. I decided to take the housekeeping corner out of the playroom for a little while. It seemed the kids were getting bored with it and not using the food and equipment well, so I thought a break would do us good. They haven't asked about it since they came back (it's been gone at least 2 weeks) and today they finally asked where it went. I told them it was resting and they would have to use their imaginations to come up with something for their tea party... a block and play dough plates did the trick.

We even had our very own dinosaur tea party... gotta love it!!

Taking babies for a walk.

I always feel like we should have the best of everything, an excess of everything, and something for every possible situation. Today reminds me that keeping it simple is good. The kids had no problem coming up with an alternative plan for their tea party. I am glad I gave the kitchen set and all those little pieces a time-out. I know they will enjoy playing with it when it comes back, but I won't keep it out for so long next time.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Just a Few Things Around the Room

After another 3 day weekend, due to MLK Day, we are back and ready to work. Actually eager. The kids were excited to see the environment set up in centers today. We have been so out of sorts due to the weather, school agers home, and sickness that we haven't really had a lot of planned learning going on, just the spontaneous stuff (which is also good).

The light table is a favorite activity, but the 2's have a tendency to walk away with anything they find on there. I have to keep a close eye on what is going on over there :)

I found this in the middle of the floor. We received some Melissa & Doug Magnetic numbers and I had this 100 poster that I had to take down because I moved a cabinet. So, someone (not sure who) matched numbers 1-9 and left it there for me to find. I just love that!! The enjoy using the pointers and counting to 100. It is a great exercise for my preschoolers, and the 2's enjoy being their "students" and will even try to count along.

The play dough table is always a hit. I love the exercise their little hands and fingers get by manipulating the play dough, but man, cleaning it up is always a task I don't look forward to. I try to only put out 2 containers each week, and if they let it dry out they have to wait until the next week to get more. But, I don't like to punish the preschoolers when it is usually the 2's that leave it out. I try to keep on top of that center too, but can't always "catch" the ones leaving the play dough out. It is amazing when you only have 4 kids who use the play dough, but not 1 of them played with it when I ask ;)
I don't know if you can make it out in the picture, but Princess is spelling her name with the "hair" she made with one of the play dough tools. I was very proud of her. She made me take a photo of her whole name when she was done. I will have to get it printed and give it to her.

Ahhh, the water table. Our sensory table has been out of commission of late due to a crack in the plastic container. I finally got another and today we put some water in it. First cold water, we then talked about how it felt on our hands and fingers. We talked about how we could make it warmer on our tippy fingers. There was guesses of heating the container (which Princess said would probably not work because it would melt) and then Princess said, "Shell, just get hot water from the sink. That would work you know." How smart is she.

Little Man wasn't feeling great today, but you wouldn't know it by looking at him. He was so excited to be on the floor checking out the light table. He banged his hands on it, moved around the colored blocks, and even laid his little head on it. The big kids spent a lot of time "showing" him all the things that could be done, and applauding him when he did something spectacular... Like finding toys, under the table...

Love this photo!! What a happy boy!!
We also went for our daily walk around the neighborhood. The snow is melting in the yard and we can use it as long as we wear our boots, but the mud was particularly slippery today, so we took a hike to the nature park and enjoyed the sights. We even got to meet up with Little Miss M's cousins and ran around their front yard yelling, throwing left over snow, and jumping into the snow. It is always fun to see cousins and friends!! It is also really fun to get outside and be able to run, jump and scream!!