Tag Archives: Active Play

Much to Do

Only one more week left before school begins again.  Where did the time go?

I spent my weekend working on ‘phase one’ of the playroom remodel but you’ll have to wait until after ‘phase two’ is complete before I show you what we’ve done.  Until then I’ll show you a few things that happened last week.

There were some ball games — we’re working on ‘control’ instead of ‘velocity’ or ‘distance’;

There were some other activities on the balance beams too;

One of the girls set up a store in the tipi;

Other children decided there needed to be a bank so they started a mine to dig for money — gold?  Several children were workers in the money mine collecting currency;

They didn’t get to keep it for themselves though.  They had to wait for payday like everone else.  The mined money went to the bank;

When the workers were paid they went to the stores to buy stuff – sounds familiar.

All that cash meant there was a lot of construction too;

And some recreation.  This was an interesting type of bowling;

I never did understand why they anchored the foam ‘pins’ with gravel so they wouldn’t tip over;

However, I loved the way they supported the tubes – using shovels to fill the foundation pipes with gravel so they were very strong and stable;

Yes, it was a very busy week with a lot of things to do.

Reno Boxes

Another exciting thing about renovating is that you get some really cool boxes like these;

There are eight children in the above photo – all inside the boxes 🙂 We decorated the boxes too;

My current group of children is evenly mixed – four boys and four girls – so at one point the boxes were labelled “Girls” and “Boys” That didn’t last long since the girls did most of the decorating and soon changed all the labels to ‘Girls only’ but the boys were still allowed to visit.

These boxes kept the children engaged for two solid hours and eventually the larger one was flattened so everyone piled into the “rescue ship”;

This is why renovating is so much fun.

 

Adapting

The first week back to school has come to an end. We’ve had many new experiences.

  • The first day back to school/daycare after a summer long absence.
  • Beginning school or daycare for the first time ever.
  • Making new friends.
  • Getting to ride on the school bus.
  • Having no school-age children come here for lunch (this has never happened before).
  • Getting to stay up for quiet time instead of having a nap after lunch.
  • The introduction of an infant into our group – first one in five years that didn’t have an older sibling here.

We’ve been learning and adapting to all these new experiences.  There have been many exciting stories to share with each other.  It is the introduction of the baby that I have found the most interesting.

Initially, when the baby cried, the preschoolers all clamped their hands over their ears and screamed ‘It’s too loud, it’s too loud” – which of course made it worse.  So we discussed communication.  What do you do or say when you want something?  What do you do or say when you’re hurt or scared?  How do you tell someone else that you have a problem or need something?

Now, when the baby cries, the preschoolers stop what they are doing and one of them will say “Shhh! Listen, the baby has something important to say”.  Sometimes they even try to figure out what he wants but mostly they leave that up to me.

The baby likes to be where the action is.  Watching the ‘big’ kids play is so exciting!  He doesn’t crawl yet, or even sit without assistance so he spends a lot of time on my knee – observing.  He really wants to go so sometimes we sit on the floor and try to stay out of the walkways.

In the past I’ve contemplated how to get those preschoolers to slow down and watch where they are going.  They are constantly in a hurry when they play.  Their ‘Rescue Me’, ‘Dragon Hunter’ or ‘Safari Adventure’ dramatic play activities always involve some kind of emergency.  Even the ‘Restaurant’ encounters urgent situations that have everyone scrambling to save the day.  And of course the ‘Family’ getting ready for work/school/daycare is the most hectic game of all.

Sometimes I feel like a broken record repeating ‘walk in the house please’ over and over again. So I was a little apprehensive about putting a baby down on the floor. Yet, ‘out of the way’ isn’t where he wants to be so I sit close by; and I watch.

I watch and listen as Child ‘A’ sends Child ‘B’ for emergency supplies.  Child ‘B’ takes off but then stops and, still in character, narrates the situation for Child ‘A’;

“I must be careful over here.  There is a baby lying on the road.  I will move slowly – taking small steps all the way around him. I have the tools and I am coming back.”

The sense of urgency continues in the tone of voice but the action is slow and careful.  I love it!  So does the baby, squealing and kicking, happy to be part of the game.

We are all part of a new exciting adventure.  Together we are learning and adapting.

The History of Our Yard

Fourteen years ago when I first opened my childcare home this was what the backyard play area looked like;

There was also a ‘deck’ area – old pallets covered in plywood – that is not visible in the above photo.  You may also notice the lack of soft surface under the play structure but the cribbing is there because adding pea gravel under the play structure was something I had to do for licensing.

Back then my view of outdoor play was essentially unstructured, high energy, physical activity.  My own children had played here – two of them are in this picture.  They usually played outside by themselves for hours.  I rarely ventured out with them until ‘supervised outdoor play’ became part of my childcare program.  Then I regularly watched the children play – and I was afraid.

Seven years ago my yard looked like this;

There was a large deck area with riding toys and space to play organized games.  There were no toys in the gravel area – just the climbers. After all, someone might trip over a toy if it was buried in the gravel.  It was here in this playground that we had the only injury that required medical attention.  I pondered over the question on the incident report “Was there anything you could have done to prevent this injury?”   I had been three feet from the child that fell from a two foot high platform onto twelve inches of pea gravel.  Maybe I shouldn’t let them play outside.

Actually, the children probably wouldn’t have argued if I had decided to ban outdoor play from the program.  They didn’t like to play out here for long.  Often it took only about 15 minutes before someone asked if it was time to go inside yet.  I took a long look at the outdoor play space and started to see everything that was ‘missing’.  All the things they liked to do inside that they couldn’t do outside – and I’m not talking about TV and video games.

This is my yard today;

Places to climb and crawl;

Places to balance, jump and explore;

Places for science experiments and imagination;

Places for art, music, and sharing stories with friends;

And so much more.  It is a lot like indoors – only better.  Now we can’t wait to go outside.

Just the Highlights

This weekend I planned to write a post about our recent gardening adventures but since I was enlisted to help with sheeting and shingling the porch roof I didn’t have enough time left to write.  Suffice it to say I will never take on roofing as a career and this week’s post will simply be a few pictures of some of the children’s activities last week.

Early in the week the bugs from the nature area were the toy of choice — I don’t know exactly what they were doing, sometimes I think it is better that I don’t ask.

The children also initiated a storytime session in the nature area;

Outside they helped my son create a unique sculpture;

They called the finished product a “Northern Branch Turtle”

It rained overnight which meant there were some more activity options;

And there was water for our soup but when too much ‘stuff’ was added we had to try to get it out without losing any of the precious broth;

In the past they have just dumped it all out but we are learning to conserve water since it isn’t always available.

We played in the tunnels;

And found a dead dragonfly in the garden;

We love dragonflies and hope this one didn’t die as a result of the city spraying to kill cankerworms.

We ended the week with more water fun when we got to clean the old plant pots;

It was a very productive week.

A Taste of Summer

Yesterday none of the school age children had classes so everyone was here for the full day and the weather was amazing.  The weather channel reported a high of 17° C but with the sunshine the thermometer in my back yard registered 22° C – beautiful. We spent all morning outside.

As usual there was a lot of ‘cooking’ going on since collecting items and making concoctions are very popular activities.  It was one of those days that I wish I had brought the video camera out since the ‘action’ is missing from the still photos.  The camera and I both have slow reaction times so what shows up in the pictures isn’t always what I was trying to capture. I spent a considerable amount of time observing the process involved in adding ingredients to this pot.

Fine motor skills were enhanced as pebbles were dropped one by one through the tube and into the pot.  It took more trial and error and a little frustration to discover why the ones placed in the bottom of the tube didn’t come out the top.

I miss the liquid component that we had in the concoctions this spring as the snow melted. I’m working on a plan to relocate one of the rain barrels to the gravel area so we can have a regular water supply.  I just have to move a couple of the big planters first.  Unfortunately I know from experience that the only thing harder than lifting them is sliding them through pea gravel and creating massive ridges. 🙂

While we were out in the yard we cleaned up the garden area a little and picked some weeds.  We found some plants that we couldn’t identify – probably weeds since there shouldn’t be any perennials planted here – but we thought were pretty so we left them to grow more. On the hill the Yarrow and the Giant Hyssop are beginning to sprout.  I am so excited that they seem to be off to a great start.  I’ve managed to kill off many other plants even though I’d been told that they could survive in difficult situations.  Now I’m a believer in the power of native plants. Of course we also engaged in some great gross motor activities outside too.  Running and jumping, ball games, hide and seek and tag.  My son joined us for a while and practiced some more Parkour moves and balance games.  While he tried to balancing on a piece of pipe one of the preschoolers observed and then modified the activity to suit his comfort level. Today it is raining and there is a winter storm warning.  Some of the highways have been closed due to ice and snow.  We will remain optimistic.  We have had a taste of summer and we know it will be here – eventually.

Active Play

I consider most of the children in my current group to be ‘active’. Now you’d think that, with so many news reports about childhood obesity and sedentary lifestyles, I would consider it good that these children are so active.  In reality though, there is a part of me that is so very tired of saying ‘walk in the house’, ‘keep your feet on the floor’, ‘that’s not meant for swinging on’, etc thousands of times every day.

You see, I prefer indirect guidance – using the environment to influence the behaviour of the children. During CBA observations and evaluations my understanding and use of indirect guidance was identified as one of my greatest strengths. I detest having to interrupt play to redirect behaviour.

I have the playroom arranged into five well defined areas with specific purpose for each area.  There are no long pathways that encourage running – the main play space is less than 200 square feet and there are plenty of obstacles.  I’m beginning to think the children view these obstacles as a challenge to be overcome – like in a video game where the goal is to get from point ‘A’ to point ‘B’ in the least amount of time preferably without touching the ground.

Have I inadvertently encouraged these behaviours by providing activities like parkour?  We’ve discussed safety in detail and differentiated between appropriate indoor and outdoor activities. We have plenty of outdoor time every day.  Yesterday we were outside for two hours and they spent most of that time running and jumping.

I rotate the toys often so the children have new choices and don’t easily get bored.  I provide a mix of adult led and free play activities so they have the opportunity to participate in organized group activities and also to engage in activities that they initiate.  I schedule downtime for relaxing and enjoying quiet activities so they don’t become over stimulated.

I briefly – very briefly – considered turning on the TV because I know that would work.  There are several children in the group that I’m certain would become almost comatose in front of a TV screen but the ‘professional’ side of me can’t allow me to resort to that.

This has been such a long winter and I know I can’t wait for the opportunity to work in the garden.  I have absolutely no desire to do any paperwork no matter how important it is.  (Please note: if my coordinator is reading this – I am no where near ready for re-licensing).  The recent freeze, thaw, freeze cycle has created a glacier in my yard that threatens to never melt even if the weather does ever really warm up.

But we can smell it.

Spring break is here and summer is on the horizon.  We are excited and that excitement is so hard to contain in any environment.