I know, the most recent practice guide for early learning and childcare states that ‘Sensory play must not be used at this time. Children should not use or handle play dough, sand and sensory tables, as these items cannot be easily disinfected.’
Yes, I understand the importance of that directive during this pandemic and I’m not really a rebel but play dough is one of our popular quiet time activities. I only have one non-napper here at this time so there isn’t any issue with multiple children handling the materials. Besides, there are many sensory play activities that I consider one time use only so why not…
I decided that microwaving Ivory soap would be the perfect quiet time activity – seriously – playing with soap – how could that be bad?
I had all the necessary supplies – I buy Ivory soap in bulk because I use it often but maybe that was the problem because this time there was an issue. I placed the soap in the bowl and put it in the microwave for 90 seconds like I usually do but when I took it out the soap had barely puffed up at all.
I poked it with a knife to see if it had at least softened a little and in doing so exposed the molten lava with actual flames! I quickly tossed it outside on a foil pan to cool off.
Wow, that was unexpected. I suspect that even though this bar of soap had still been in it’s wrapper the plastic from the bulk package had been removed and maybe this bar was too old and possibly dried out.
On to sensory soap activity two – making Clean Mud – first grate the soap;
Then mix it with the shredded…roll of toilet paper. Hmmm, I do have enough of that but just in case…we will use shredded tissue paper instead. Add some food colouring and mix. Yeah! Clean sensory play fun for one.
In my collection of childcare supplies I have dozens of puzzles. Some of them belonged to my own children when they were young, others have been purchased or donated to my childcare program. There are some very simple puzzles with only a few pieces, some with up to 1000 pieces, and everything in between.
Puzzles have always been available as a quiet time activity but they have never been a favourite choice for any of the school-age children. Occasionally the older children would choose a few of the simplest puzzles and have competitions to see who could complete them the fastest – this tended to be too loud for quiet time. The larger, more complicated puzzles were never popular and simply gathered dust.
In the past I’ve wondered if the children found these larger puzzles to be too time consuming to be completed in one sitting. When I have had several older children in attendance for longer periods of time during school breaks I have set up a puzzle area where they could work on a puzzle project independently or with others. There was no need to put it away when they tired of working on it and so it could be completed over several days. Still, no interest.
My current group of preschoolers might change that. For these little ones puzzles are one of their favourite activities. They have done all the smaller puzzles many, many times. They can easily complete several puzzles in one sitting and often have many puzzles out at once because they finish them so quickly. They never seem to get tired of doing puzzles.
None of the preschool puzzles offer much a a challenge to these three and four year old children any more so we now work on the 100 piece puzzles. What I find most interesting is that they also ask if they can do these puzzles ‘together’. Cooperating on any activity is a challenge for these little ones so of course I’m going to facilitate any request like this.
There are so many learning opportunities throughout this one activity!
Even when they are busy doing other activities they often talk about doing puzzles together – planning or reminiscing.
Start to finish these two can complete a puzzle this size in about 30 minutes.
They are puzzle masters.
It was the summer of 2013 that I originally planned to create an outdoor art area on the upper deck but we ran out of time so it didn’t get completed until this summer. Since our most recent indoor renovation meant giving up the sunroom as a dedicated art area the indoor art area and dining area now share the same small space. This made creating the outdoor art area very important. This is the new outdoor art space;
It can be used rain or shine and I even have some plans for wintertime use 😉 and the addition of some woodworking supplies too. All summer the school-age children spent ‘quiet time’ here while the little ones were napping.
Of course the little ones like to do artsy stuff too so I had to make sure they had some art space. The indoor dining/art area is easily supervised – unlike the dedicated art space we used to have in the sunroom – so the younger children have access to independent art activities throughout the day.
However, because our indoor space is very limited I knew I was going to miss having a big art table for group activities with the little ones during the long winter period. So, of course I came up with another ‘multipurpose’ idea. This is the bench where the school-age children sit for meals and independent art activities;
During the school year it is not used between 8:30 am and 4:00 pm – seems like a waste of space to me. Now I can flip open the top;
Add a table cloth, and the school-age bench becomes a toddler art table;
It’s the perfect size for the little ones to paint on;
Do some lacing;
Or much more….