Last summer I rearranged the stumps in the yard to create a path to and over the rocks on the little hill/tunnel.
At that time I wasn’t thinking about winter but now that the snow is here we have been creating a BIG hill in the yard by piling all the snow inside the stump circle.
This picture was taken before the recent snowfall. Yesterday we spent nearly two hours adding more snow to the pile so now the hill is much bigger 🙂 Watching the children play on this hill makes me dream of permanently filling that stump circle so we have a big hill in the summer too – but I would miss the inner stump circle and the tunnel too.
With all the snow piled up one side of the tunnel is now blocked so the ‘tunnel’ is actually a ‘cave’.
This cave is now a favourite – not so secret – hiding spot.
Another favourite space is inside the tipi. In summer it is nice to be able to see through the tipi and into the lane beyond the fence.
In the winter I pile snow behind the tipi and it becomes a wonderful place to sit when you want shelter from the wind.
We love our winter yard.
Sometimes I feel like I should be writing more posts. I reflect on why I haven’t been writing. Have I been too busy? It doesn’t always take long to write a post but if I haven’t got a solid hour of time to commit to it I usually don’t start.
Lack of inspiration? There is always some type of activity or a change that I have made to our play space but sometimes I hesitate to write about it – again. Maybe I’ve written about a similar activity with a different group of children. Also, I make so many changes to our environment sometimes I wonder if readers get tired of hearing about them all.
Mostly, I think it is a matter of ‘not enough’ for a full post. A cute story, exciting activity or pictures for which the description is just missing something. Sometimes I just can’t explain in a post what was going on and why I thought it was interesting.
Today I simply have a few photos that I want to share along with just a sentence or two – not enough for a full post for each but things I like. A small variety of pictures such as this one of the toddlers using twigs to go ‘fishing’ in the snow;
And this one I took when all five of the little ones spontaneously decided to cozy up on the step together and read books;
And when I brought out the sensory bin with sweet grass, dried herbs, and animals etc and as the children played the 3 year old stopped briefly, closed her eyes and said “Oh Cheryl, I love it – it smells like your garden.”
Yes, I love that too. 🙂
One of my fellow family childcare committee members coined the term ‘fluffy rain’ in reference to the white stuff falling from the sky during our meeting last Thursday. Maybe it was positive thinking or maybe it was just denial – none of us wanted to believe that it was snowing again at the end of April.
There was no school on Friday and although not all the children were here we still had a larger than normal group. The ‘fluffy rain’ did not dampen anyone’s mood – outdoor play in any type of weather is still preferred over being stuck in a classroom all day.
Most of the morning there was an elaborate dramatic play activity involving an eccentric designer, an art exhibit, and various other characters. I was assigned the role of ‘photographer’ to document the event – perfect because I was taking pictures already.
There was artwork everywhere;
Then someone discovered the steady stream of water running out of the rain barrel overflow spout;
Eventually we had to go back inside because it was too cold for soaking wet toddlers (my decision, not theirs). Before that though we still had some more time to play with wet fluffy rain – on the plexiglass;
One toddler was super excited to discover ‘flowers’;
Hmmm, those ones might be remnants from last summer. However, the pasture sage has been eager to get growing this year. It has been active for a couple weeks already.
Hopefully it won’t be deterred by a little fluffy rain – after all, it is a hardy native prairie plant. It, like the rest of us Manitoba prairie dwellers, should be used to this by now.
More snow. I’m beginning to wonder if this winter will ever end.
I’ve tried to keep the pathways clear but there is no where left to pile the snow. Usually I clear the full circle through the garden but this year it is barely one quarter done. Just enough to walk in and turn around;
The second entrance to the garden is completely blocked but occasionally one of the little ones attempts to go this way;
Some of the snow in the garden was originally on the shed roof but my husband cleared it off the shed and into the garden – good thing the little one are not great climbers or they might attempt to get on the roof;
I have cleared the full circle around the hill in the ‘gravel’ area;
That center snow pile is over four feet tall – if the little ones are on the opposite side they can’t see me. ‘Where are you?’ is the most popular question.
I usually clear the snow from around the benches and stumps so we have places to sit and play. This year we just have the single file circle path to walk on. I have cleared the snow from the tunnel entrances but there’s not enough room for any of us to crawl through;
There is a small pathway to the tipi and the snow around it has created a nice cozy shelter – we like it;
The biggest snow pile is on the ‘grass’ area adjacent to the deck. The older children like to climb up and slide down towards the deck – there are obstacles on the other three sides so there is no sliding or rolling down them 😦
The little ones have tried to climb up but it is too steep for them to make it all the way to the top. We have too much snow – and we got a whole bunch more after these pictures were taken.
Of course there is a plus side to the recent snowfall – the rural schools were closed so a couple of our ‘old’ friends came to spend the day with us. It was a really nice way to spend a snow day 🙂
By the middle of December we had a really nice amount of snow. There was enough snow in the yard that we were able to create some hills to climb and pathways to explore.
Some of the babies were not sure this was a good thing. Boots and snowsuits limit mobility even on a flat surface. I kept a section of the deck clear of snow so the little ones could practice and build their confidence before they tackled the hills and deep snow.
The older children are already trail blazers – eagerly marking the path through all the fresh snow in the garden;
Still, some days the little ones just quit. They lie on the deck and wait until it is time to go in. I try to persuade them that they’d be warmer if they moved around like the others. Some of them cannot manage to climb the stairs to the door. Others scramble quickly to the top – proving to me that their outerwear doesn’t slow them down if they have enough incentive to move.
My husband looks at me as I bring the troupe back inside. ‘Why do you even bother? It takes so long to get them dressed and you’re only out for such a short time’. I answer, ‘The same reason I keep giving them vegetables at lunch – it is good for them even if they are a little reluctant to try it.’
Last winter my older group enjoyed hunting for coloured ice cube ‘gems’. This year I decided to go bigger. There were squeals of delight when the babies first saw the bricks of coloured ice. Everyone scrambled up on the snow hill to investigate.
The little ones are not interested in hide and seek games with the coloured ice bricks. Instead they like to collect any ‘strays’ and pile them together with the others. Each day when new bricks are made I put them in areas of the yard that are slightly beyond the babies’ comfort zone. Once they’ve been collected and stacked with the rest of the bricks the babies are done for the day.
It’s a start. They now have a purpose to venture out into the snow and it is something they enjoy. Hopefully they will not be deterred when they return next week and see all the new snow that has accumulated in the yard. Our new task will be to search for the lost city of ice…
I heard a lot of adults complaining about the weather yesterday. After a long winter the last thing most people wanted was more snow – especially in April. However, none of the children were complaining.
When we went out to play the yard looked so beautiful. My favourite part was the way the snow gathered on the branches of our Flame Willow;
The children dashed into the yard and began to play with all the new snow – their excitment was endless;
The snow was wet and sticky – perfect for decorating the yard with polka dots like this;
Some just couldn’t resist rolling in it;
Yes, I’d love to be able to toss the snow gear and get working in the garden but I didn’t really mind this either.
We’ve been keeping busy.
Some of the children have done lacing activities many times but for the toddlers this was new and exciting;
Making designs with bags of coloured gel was a new experience for all of us;
In the playroom the boxes and ponies were used for chariot races;
It was part of a ‘video game’ dramatic play activity that the preschoolers created. They used this ‘timer’;
Tasks had to be completed before the spinner reached the bottom of the track.
They used this set-up to control the action – ‘press B to jump’, ‘press C to crawl’ etc.
This has been an ongoing activity that has evolved throughout the last month. I’ve enjoyed watching the preschoolers play and develop more elements to their game.
We are still enjoying all the snow outside – running, jumping and climbing everyday. My husband cleared the snow off the roof of the shed and completely buried the garden path. I spent several days trying to dig it out again;
Even with help from the children this project is not yet complete;
We’ve run out of good places to move the snow to. Besides, the children have decided that they like using this spot as the ‘booth’ for their restaurant;
Next week is Spring Break. As much as we’re enjoying our time indoors and outside in the snow I’m eager for ‘real’ spring. I have several projects planned but the snow need to go before work can begin. I wanted an early Spring.
Keeping busy is hard sometimes when Mother Nature has other plans.
I’ve heard people complaining – sarcastic comments like “It’s snowing again. Just what we need – more snow.” Personally I think we have the perfect amount of snow.
The tunnel under the hill looks like this;
I usually clear the snow away from the entrances to the tunnel but on one inservice day the school-age children built up the snow there to create a ‘jail’. I didn’t want to disturb their structure so I left it and more snow has accumulated there. The school-age children would no longer be able to get inside the tunnel but some of the preschoolers can and love it;
The path through the garden is terrific;
Not at all like it was in February 2012;
That was just a pathetic amount of snow.
However, in 2011 we had far too much snow even for me and I like snow. In 2011 I nearly ran out of places to put the snow and the garden looked like this;
Too much snow in 2011. Too little snow in 2012. The perfect amount of snow in 2013 🙂
We’ve endured some frigid weather in the last month. Some days with the windchill it has felt like -45C. Our daily trek down to the end of the street to meet the school bus has been daunting.
Luckily my back yard is sheltered from the wind so it has not felt as cold as the open areas and we have played outside for all but one day. The children are dressed appropriately for the weather and do not complain – in fact, some of them are disappointed when I say it is time to go in.
On the coldest days we’ve stayed outside for only about 20 minutes. Our ‘extra’ indoor time was used to explore what happens when we put paint and paper in a salad spinner and spin;
or shake if you prefer;
We’ve also investigated a bin full of bird seed;
However, we still prefer to be outside – discovering how slippery the old cookie sheets get when they are cold. Some enjoy ‘skating’ on them;
Others take them to the little hill and try to ‘snowboard’;
Some have tried using the pipes to ‘ski’ down the slope;
The wok toboggan is another option – love that it has handles so friends can help out;
So, indoors or out, we’ve been busy.
When our dog was a puppy we took her to obedience classes. One of the suggestions made was to ensure our strong willed puppy ‘knew her place in the pack’ by always giving her her food after we ate our supper. Due to her whining and begging through our meal we often sent her outside until we finished eating. Then, when she came back in her food dish was full.
She is not a puppy anymore – she is 12 years old but she still remembers the ‘food fairy’. When she is hungry she begs to go out then wants back in right away. She immediately checks her food dish and if it is still empty she begs to go outside again. I’ve tried to explain ‘time’ to her but she still has faith in the magic of the food fairy.
A few weeks ago the children went outside to play and discovered that the yard looked like this;
I told them that the ‘ice fairy’ must have come to decorate the yard. They were so excited – collecting and sorting all the coloured gems of ice.
Since then it has snowed several times and most of the coloured ice has been buried. This week I made some more – it didn’t take long in our -40 C weather. It hasn’t really been that cold in my yard. My weather station has registered between -21 and -24 and the yard is sheltered from the wind.
So the ice fairy came again to decorate the yard. The children were excited but….they laughed and said ‘Yeah, Cheryl made more ice’. Apparently I failed to persuade them of the existence of a magic fairy that brings coloured ice.
If the dog could talk I’m sure she’d be able to explain the power of fairy magic. Until then the ice fairy will continue to brighten up the yard and as spring arrives we may discover all those buried gems too.