Tag Archives: Collecting

Yard Art

Last month I brought some clay and plasticine out to the yard.  I put several pieces of each on trays around the yard.  The children explored the textures.  I showed them how to use the heat from their hands to warm the clay and make it more pliable.


We collected various items from the yard and garden to add to the clay to make sculptures;


Of course the process was more important than the product and everyone had their own ideas and methods;


After the children were done with this activity the clay, plasticine, and other supplies were abandoned in the gravel area.  Only the trays were returned to the outdoor art area.  Later that week I brought some painting supplies out and placed them on the lid of the storage box – it is a nice height for the toddlers to use as a table.


Some children prefer to try alternative methods when painting – I thought it looked much more difficult to stand on the back side of the storage box but that was her choice;


It added a physical, gross motor, element to the art activity. Another bit of process over product – it could be described as ‘hanging’ art since her feet were not on the ground;


Over the last few weeks the children have discovered that the clay that was abandoned in the gravel area has now hardened into ‘rocks’.  The plasticine however is still pliable – especially on warmer days.  Of course you have to find it though – there are bits and pieces of plasticine strewn throughout the 400 sq ft gravel area.

There is always excitement when someone finds a piece of plasticine amongst all the gravel.  It is even better when they can collect enough of it to create another sculpture;


The sunlight and shadows add even more artistic opportunities.  Even though the process is our goal, some of the products are pretty amazing too;


Best of all, this plasticine is reusable.  With a wide variety of nature items in the yard there are endless creative opportunities.  Like all the loose parts in the yard, the plasticine offers the freedom to explore, imagine, and invent.  It is all about the process.

Colour Hunt

I’m not totally against the use of bright primary colours for children’s toys but they can become overwhelming.  Whenever possible I will choose to buy products with more neutral colours – earth tones are my favourite.  Still, many of the toys here were purchased long ago like this old standby;


Toys like these are useful for activities involving patterns, shapes, sizes and of course colour.  But there is one missing.  Here too, one colour is neglected;


In a colour wheel there are three primary colours – red, blue and yellow.  There are also three secondary colours – green, orange, and purple.  Why is there no purple in either of these sets of toys?  I find this annoying.

In our set of puzzle people purple was included – but this time the manufacturers neglected to include orange.


Luckily I found some baskets that had primary colours;


And all three secondary colours too;


Perfect. Now we can hunt for colours.  Everyone pick a basket, search the playroom, and find items that match your basket.



Some baskets were too full to carry;


This was just one of the colour activities we enjoyed this week.


There have been many television shows and news reports that feature people who are considered to be hoarders – they have too much ‘stuff’.  I hate those shows.  You see, for me they hit really close to home.  To hoard can also mean to save, store, amass, collect, stockpile, accumulate, gather, or put aside. I could be considered to be a hoarder.

Now, I’ll admit that some of the people on these shows are really out of control.  If you can’t walk across a room because there is loose stuff all over the place then it is definitely time to clean up.  Sometimes these shows offer really good suggestions on how to de-clutter and organize.  However, they also annoy the ‘green’ side of me.

Just because you haven’t used something in a year or more doesn’t mean it is useless and even if you could buy another one doesn’t necessarily mean you should just throw something out.  That is just wasteful.  Sometimes I even covet the stuff they throw in their ‘trash’ piles – OMG do you know what I could do with that!?!

Certainly there are days that I wish that I could move all my ‘stuff’ to a warehouse where I’d have room to properly go through it all.  I love the idea of being free of useless clutter.  I detest when I have to go to the store to buy something that I can’t find but I know I have in my house somewhere.  Whenever possible I also prefer to make things instead of buying them too.  Reuse and recycle.

I had to laugh though when I saw these bread clips on my kitchen counter…

I picked them up and tossed them in the garbage.  My husband looked confused and said “I left those there for you – I thought you saved them”.  Yes, I had saved bags full of them — eighteen years ago when our son was in Kindergarten and his teacher collected them to use as math counters in her classroom.  Can you imagine how many bread clips I would have if I had continued to save them for eighteen years!?!  Now that would be hoarding.

Last week I watched as the baby took various toys and placed them in the toolbox and then dumped them out.  It reminded me of something I had made many years ago…I had seen it again recently…where was it?  It took less than five minutes for me to find it again. Lids from frozen juice containers and a coffee can with a slot cut in the lid;

Baby still likes that tool box better;

The preschoolers like the coffee can and tried to teach the baby how to put the lids in the slot.  They call it the ‘clean-up game’ — dump them out and put them back in over and over again.

No one has used that thing in at least three years but I’m really glad I didn’t throw it out.  Next week we might try some other activities with these lids.  All fifty of them are numbered and some have stickers.  We can use them for matching, sorting and sequencing too.

I am an ECE and I walk a really fine line between hoarding junk and saving useful stuff.

Order and Chaos

Other people have described me as ‘organized’ but I have to disagree.  I’d like to be organized, I strive to be organized, but I certainly don’t believe that I am organized.

I am creative.  I see potential in things – regardless of their actually purpose I can imagine other uses for them and so I collect ‘stuff’.  When my son’s kindergarten teacher posted a sign outside the classroom asking for egg cartons I brought her 50 of them the next day – and that was only a small part of my collection. Collections need space and I don’t have a lot of that.  My 1200 square foot house is home to my family of five, our two cats and one dog and it is also a licensed childcare facility as well.  I use space efficiently and that makes organizing a necessity.

I used to see all unused space as wasted space.  Those show homes with soaring two storey great rooms – wasted space that could be a whole other second floor room.  My two storey house with nine foot ceilings could be a three story house with six foot ceilings.  Ok, that might be stretching it a bit but I have used every nook and cranny to create storage space for my collections.  Over the years my husband has enabled my addiction by building more shelves and cabinets.  Every new space meant more room to house more collections.

While working on my CBA portfolio organizing stuff often got postponed resulting in many ‘miscellaneous’ boxes.  Boxes of random items are bad and I had many of them – organizing stuff was becoming increasingly difficult.  Last year I made a pledge to myself to down size the collections and get them under control.  I decided to make an effort to throw out or donate at least one bag or box of ‘stuff’ every weekend.  Most weekends I have been successful – some weekend I’ve even managed to get rid of several boxes or bags.

Renovation and construction weekends have actually been the most successful because moving things requires sorting and organizing but the process takes a lot of time and energy.  For example, this weekend my goal was to set up our new indoor garden space – clear off the top of the cabinet and hang the light fixture.  Sounds simple enough but there were books on the cabinet — books that belonged on the bookshelf but it was too full.  There were also books and loose papers on my desk and ‘miscellaneous’ boxes under my desk.

So, Friday evening I began organizing and continued throughout the weekend.  At one point there was barely room to walk around the piles of stuff strewn around the room – it always looks worse before it gets better.  Now, one small part of my world is organized.  The bookshelf is neat and tidy – there are no books lying sideways on top of others, no books on my desk, on the cabinet or in boxes.  There are no ‘miscellaneous’ boxes under the desk – all of the boxes contain specific collections and two boxes were eliminated completely.  Loose papers have been sorted and filed; the top of my desk is empty and the indoor garden area is almost ready for plants – I just need to hang the light fixture.