Tag Archives: Family Childcare

Spring Roundup

Spring is such a busy time for me. ¬†As usual I’ve been collecting pictures to use in blog posts but not leaving myself enough time to actually write posts ūüė¶

So, here is a roundup of what should have been three posts;

I made a batch of homemade glue for an art project but then realized the recipe made much more than we needed and it doesn’t keep for very long. So, I dumped it in a big bin along with paper bits from the shredder, wool scraps, glitter and paint powder. ¬†The children enjoyed mashing it all together – no pictures of that part because it was way too messy to have a camera nearby.

Initially the mixture was extremely sticky and some of us were not impressed by the sensation of having our hands coated in the goo.  Eventually the paper absorbed enough of the glue and made the mixture easier to handle.

Later each of the children took a portion of the mixture to work with;

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Or form into mini balls and throw around the room;

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They pressed the mixture into the shape of the bowl and then we let it dry;

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It took a lot longer than anticipated – nearly a week before they were dry and ready to take home;

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Outside, now that the snow is gone, the boys have been begging for me to open the ‘summer toys’ bin. So far I have resisted – knowing there will be a big issue over who gets the one Batman figure (which may mysteriously disappear). ¬†They’ve managed to keep themselves busy with the loose parts and eggs;

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The longer periods of outdoor time have meant some are very tired by nap time (or earlier).  One however, has been using quiet time to become a jigsaw puzzle expert. He has now completed ALL of my 100 piece puzzles several times and can finish two of them in one afternoon.

I decided maybe we should try something a little more challenging Рso I brought out a 500 piece puzzle.  This part took him two days with no assistance from me;

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He did find the trees and mountains a little more difficult so I assisted with sorting some of the pieces. He is persistent and refuses to give up without finishing.  By the third week Рafter about 12 hours of actual work Рhe had done this much;

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I think that is very impressive for a four year old ūüôā ¬†I’m not the only one who has been busy.

 

Playroom Update

It has been a while since I wrote about making any changes to our play space – that doesn’t mean I haven’t made any changes. ¬†I have actually made many, many changes since last summer but just never wrote a post. ¬†Maybe I didn’t feel the project was complete, maybe it was just a small change not worth a post, or maybe it was a change that I didn’t like – that happens sometimes, my visions don’t always translate into reality. ¬†Most likely though, I waited to see how the change ‘worked’ and then got busy and forgot to write.

So, here are some updated photos of the playroom after the most recent long weekend reno.  First, an overview (it is impossible to get everything in one photo Рand this one is blurry too).

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The shelf units that house the mini scenes were moved from the nature area to the housekeeping/dramatic play side of the playroom.  I think they may be used more often now that they are here instead of the dark corner of the nature area.

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The dollhouse shelves are here too – they need some repairs and new furniture. ¬†This space hasn’t been a priority for a long time due to lack of ‘appropriate’ interest from the current group – I’m hoping to change that. ¬†For now the addition of a new steering wheel has been the highlight of the reno for the boys.

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They have always used the spinning maze as a steering wheel for their car/truck/school bus dramatic play – now they have two, and the mirror is an added bonus – they love to watch themselves play.

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I recently moved the table and the dress up clothes but the rest of the housekeeping area hasn’t changed since summer. It looks like this;

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The cash register was moved off the kitchen counter and now has its own space – not sure yet if I’ll add anything to the shelves or leave that for the children to decide what to ‘sell’;

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The nature area is now a ‘toy free’ zone intended solely for reading, relaxing or looking out the window. ¬†This has already dramatically improved the issues related to running and jumping back and forth between play areas and fighting over space on the old reading couch.

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The block bin was moved over to make room for the table – which now is also used as a serving counter or ‘take out window’. The new angle of the block bin means the building area is not blocking a walkway anymore either.

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The music area hasn’t really changed since last summer but I don’t think I ever posted a picture of it – and I still haven’t got more green paint…

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The other ‘favouite’ new addition is the workbench. ¬†This was the storage area for tools and miscellaneous toys before but it didn’t have a workbench. ¬†I always considered the top of the block tin to be a workbench – the children did not. ¬†They love this.

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I like it too – I’m going to add some more tools but first I have to buy some…. ūüôā

No Hide & Seek

Over the years I have often told children that Hide & Seek is an outdoor game.  Yes, I personally remember enjoying many wonderful indoor games of Hide & Seek but they were held in a much larger building with multiple rooms. The confined space of our little playroom does make it difficult to play a traditional game of Hide & Seek Рthere are not really any good places for even a little person to hide.

My current group of preschoolers often initiate indoor games that they call ‘Hide & Seek’ but I always end up redirecting them. ¬†The problem really is that their energy level makes their game unsuitable for our indoor space – they do not play according to traditional rules.

In their game of ‘Hide & Seek’ the three of them together choose a ‘hiding spot’. ¬†Then two of them crawl into ‘sleeping bags’ (old pillow cases that are kept with the dress-up clothes/blankets) while the third child goes to the other side of the room, covers his eyes and counts to 10. ¬†He then shouts ‘ready or not, here I come’, runs across the room and jumps on the two ‘hiding’ boys. ¬†This is then followed by fits of laughter and a group decision as to who hides and who seeks for the next round.

*Sigh*.  This is not Hide & Seek.  This is rough and tumble play that they call hide & seek because they know that I will say running and jumping games are outdoor games.  If I say Hide & Seek is an outdoor game they will argue Рand they will be correct РHide & Seek can be played indoors Рbut their game cannot even if they call it Hide & Seek.

So why won’t I allow this game? ¬†It is a cooperative game and the three playing are in agreement – for now – but there are other, smaller children who are not. ¬†They do occasionally try to join, or just get in the way and someone always gets hurt. ¬†I will allow this type of play outdoors – but there is simply not enough space indoors for the reward to outweigh the risk.

So, I suggested that they could take turns hiding a small toy instead – there are many places to hide small toys. They thought this was a terrific ¬†idea and immediately chose one of the six stuffed squirrels. ¬†I was somewhat concerned that this would cause confusion if someone ‘found’ one of the five squirrels that were not hidden but that wasn’t a problem.

The real problem was that none of the boys ¬†could resist telling the others where the squirrel was hidden. ¬†Two would sit in the corner and cover their eyes while the third hid the squirrel. ¬†Then as soon as the two seekers stood up to search the hider would say “It’s over there” and point to the hiding spot. The other two would race to the location and whomever grabbed the squirrel first would be the hider – and would hide the squirrel in exactly the same spot that it was hidden in before round after round after round. *sigh*

So, I suggested that I should be the hider and all of them could be the seekers – I also chose to hide a small stuffed bear that wasn’t normally in the playroom. ¬†They covered their eyes and giggled while I hid the bear. ¬†When I said it was hidden they came out of the corner and bounced around asking me where it was. ¬†I told them to look for it. ¬†After searching for nearly a minute they began lamenting “This is so hard”.

I smiled and said. “This is Hide and Seek – indoor style”. ¬†The excitement when they did actually find the bear was priceless. ūüôā This is now their favourite game. ¬†Sometimes they become engaged in other activities before the bear gets found. ¬†If at any point I need to redirect their behaviour then all I have to do is ask if they’ve found the bear yet and they all begin searching again.

Hide and Seek might be my favourite game too.

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People & Pets

Throughout my life I have almost always had some type of a pet Рsome fish, a couple birds, a few dogs and many cats.  I believe that pets are a wonderful addition to almost any family including a childcare home family.

Here, even children who cannot have pets of their own can reap the benefits of having pets.  They get to play together;

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The children often include the animals in their dramatic play activities – ensuring everyone has a role to play;

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When playtime is over and it is time to relax – the pets often like to be there too;

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Sometimes they enjoy being the centre of attention;

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And other times they prefer to keep their distance;

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Our number one rule about pets is that if they come to you then you can play with them but when they want to leave you cannot restrain them or chase them.

Respect their space.

I have found that many children who struggle with social interactions with other children have a much easier time understanding ‘gentle’, ‘calm’ and ‘respectful’ when interacting with animals.¬† Pets are also wonderful at comforting children who are withdrawn, anxious or distraught.

Back in 2014 when we lost our nearly 15 year old dog Mindy there was some discussion about whether or not we should get another dog.  A new pet is a big commit so it is very important to take everything into consideration and I felt the requirements for another dog were too much.  Although Mindy had been a wonderful dog I am admittedly much more of a cat person.

Last month, out of the blue, my husband commented ‘We should get another cat’.

!?!?!!! ūüôā

The seed was planted….

The search began….

Last Sunday our new family member came home…

She’s still in quarantine but soon the introductions will begin.¬† It will be a slow process, there are many new family members for her to meet and we don’t want to overwhelm her.

Soon though, it will be time to say hello…

 

Delivery

I ordered something and knew it would be arriving soon.¬† I told the children something new was coming – they were very excited.¬† “What is it?”¬† “I’m not telling, it is a surprise.”

It arrived on Monday – at nap time as usual – I’m fairly certain that all couriers are required to make daycare deliveries at nap time and they get a bonus if they kick the door at the same time as they ring the doorbell… *sigh*

I decided to wait to introduce the new items – but the packaging was fun for day one;

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Making a ‘sidewalk’.

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‘Crinkles’ when we walk on it;

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Plenty of after nap fun with just the packaging;

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Day two – let’s open the little boxes that came in the big box;

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What are these?

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Let’s sort them;

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They’re called ‘Balance Pods’ – Can you stand on them?

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Is it easier or harder if they are upside down?

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Maybe we should hold hands;

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Even the baby wants to try;

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Let’s see if we can sit on them;

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Or walk;

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So many new things to try – this is only the beginning;

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Warm in Winter

The weather recently has been a bit of a deterrent to long periods of outdoor play.  Even when bundled up in warm clothing the littlest ones can get chilly crawling around in the snow.  The heavy clothing and deep snow can cause a lot of frustration yet we have still managed to be outside for at least some time every day.  After all, long periods of being stuck indoors is very frustrating too.

One perk to having my husband home from work during winter break means I have an extra set of hands.  So, for an extra special treat we had an outdoor fun day complete with lunch cooked on the fire. I did most of the food prep before the children arrived and hubby had the fire good and hot before the children and I headed outside.

The foil baked potatoes had been cooked first – I thought I had a taken a picture of them cooking but I guess not – it was funny because the fire nearly melted the metal colander I stored them in ūüėȬ† The bannock went on second – I chose to make them biscuit style instead of cooking on sticks because few in this group would have the attention span to stand still long enough to cook them.

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The children were much more interested in mostly playing on the hills and just occasionally stopping by to check on the food and warm up by the fire.

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Of course the tipi on the far side of the yard is another favourite place too;

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The wieners were the last thing left to cook.  Some of the children helped briefly but were a little too far away to get much heat.  It probably would have been better if we had more flames like we did at the beginning but the low fire worked eventually;

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It was a learning experience for all of us – not our first fire but our first entire meal cooked on the fire in the winter. Oh so yummy;

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Everyone just devoured their lunch – and two fell asleep at the table – after all, it was a long morning full of outdoor play.

From Beginning to End

The project began last fall when we saved some of the seeds from the pie pumpkin that came in our Wild Earth Farms CSA bin.  I think it is important to not only know where your food comes from but also where your seeds come from.  Most of the plants we grow in our garden start as seeds we collect from plants we have grown or food we have eaten.

In the early spring we started some of our seeds indoors Рthe seedlings really liked the box window location.  The preschool table is located in front of this window so the children got to see the progress of seedlings every day.

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Once it got warm enough outside we moved all the seedling to our outdoor gardening space.¬† The various squash plants got planted a block away in my daughter’s back yard – she doesn’t use her outdoor space and we don’t have enough room for those sprawling plants.

Throughout the summer we often stopped by her yard when we were out for a walk.¬† We are supposed to do some weeding and yard work when we go but mostly all the plants are ‘wild’ and just grow however and wherever they want.¬† Between the squash plants and the weeds there are so many prickly things but the children are still excited to explore every time we visit.

By the end of September her yard looked more like a jungle than a garden.  The children enjoyed searching for things to harvest.

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We found quite a few on this trip over Рhad trouble carrying them all back.  All the drivers were smiling as they watched our little parade cross the street.

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When we got back we examined the various produce and discussed what we would do with them.

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The flowers were added to our spaghetti at lunch that day.  The zucchini was used in a stir fry the following week.The rest were displayed as decorations until the end of October when all the pumpkins had turned orange.  Then we cut open the pumpkins and scooped out the innards.

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Then I roasted the pumpkin halves to prepare them for the next phase.

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The following day the children took turns mashing the cooked pumpkin.

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We added the other ingredients – everyone got to smell and even taste some of them before we mixed them in.

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Almost done;

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We poured them in to pie shells and baked them in the oven. Afternoon snack on Friday – perfect end to a busy week;

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There were comments like “This is better than birthday cake”.¬† Some of the children recognized the taste or smell of the various spices – savoring every bit to pick out the individual flavours.

A year long project from beginning to end – but, its not really the end, is it;

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