In any childcare program there needs to be a mix of structured and unstructured time.  In my home there are large blocks of ‘free play’ time where the children initiate and engage in activities of their choosing.  Generally I find that the children who have the greatest difficulty with this are the school-age children who were not enrolled here as preschoolers.  Many of them rely heavily on being entertained and instructed.  ‘Go Play’ is simply too vague and often results in ‘I’m bored’ laments.

For this reason during Spring Break I planned more group activities than I usually do.  For most of these activities the school age children enjoyed participating with the group and the preschoolers liked having their mentors around.

We made some pictures with Plastercine.

Decorated some Easter eggs – I know, still many weeks before Easter but there will not be another ‘No School’ day before then.

And we tried a sensory science activity that was a complete failure.  My coordinator stopped by for a drop in visit and the children were excited to have a surprise visitor.  Some of the older children decided this would be a good time to show off and test some limits.  We took a vote and the majority wanted to go outdoors to play instead of continuing the circle time so we headed outside instead.

The science activity was rescheduled for this week when the older children were back in school.  The preschoolers are familiar with this activity and it is one of their favourites.  We start with the treasure box – many of these items have been found on our nature walks or donated by families after a vacation.

We choose items of interest to us and examine them closely using the magnifying glasses.  The children describe how the objects feel and smell and note any other interesting characteristic.  I write down their comments.  “The rabbit fur is so soft”.  “This piece of bark looks like a car” (Do you mean the shape?) “I like the rocks that are soft (smooth) and shiny”. “The sheep wool looks like dust”.

This time we also had the opportunity to inspect a stick bug because one of ours died.  We still have two live ones left – and 216 eggs.  Scrutinizing the stick bug was the highlight of this activity.  “It feels like rubber”

This group of preschoolers could have spent much more time on this activity but it was time to go to pick-up our friend from school – I miss the relaxed schedule of ‘no school’ days.