Tag Archives: Winter

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 😉  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.

Winter Yard

Last summer I rearranged the stumps in the yard to create a path to and over the rocks on the little hill/tunnel.

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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.

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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’.

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This cave is now a favourite – not so secret – hiding spot.

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Found you!

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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.

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In the winter I pile snow behind the tipi and it becomes a wonderful place to sit when you want shelter from the wind.

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We love our winter yard.

Winter Clothes

It is that time of the year again – sweaters, ski pants, hats, mitts, coats and boots.  All that clothing for every one of the toddlers in my group.  Getting ready to go outside to play now takes a large chunk of time out of our morning.  For some, the arduous process of getting dressed can briefly interrupt their excitement for outdoor play.

I usually lay out all the children’s clothing and then begin with the youngest child and start dressing.  When the youngest is dressed I move on the the second youngest who may, or may not have already started getting dressed.  The oldest child always gets the most time to get dressed independently – our ultimate goal.

This year, the two youngest children in the group both really, really dislike all the bulky, ‘tight’ outerwear and resist every step of the process.  The youngest child is sometimes so worn out from the struggle to get dressed that he will fall asleep while waiting for me to dress the second child.

So, I made a slight change in the routine.  Instead of dressing the first child completely before moving on the child two, I began alternating between these two for each step of the dressing process. Ski pants on child one then ski pants on child two.  Coat & mitts on child one then coat & mitts on child two.  Hat and boots on child one then hat & boots on child two.

Several shorter battle rounds with a break between each step allows the toddlers a brief period of time to adapt to the feel of one piece of heavy outerwear before another is added.  Throughout the process of dressing the youngest two, toddler three usually sits and waits patiently singing songs but making no effort to get dressed.

The oldest in the current group is fully capable of completing the task without assistance except for the jacket zipper.  She usually dresses, undresses, and dresses again several times while the others struggle through.  Occasionally, just to add a little excitement to an otherwise boring task, she’ll do something to annoy one of the toddlers.  Sigh.

Last week I saw a small glimmer of progress.  Toddler two put on his ski pants without any assistance.  Instead of just sitting and waiting, toddler three put her ski pants on too!  The resistance to getting dressed is lessening.  The oldest now sometimes feigns helplessness because she feels I have too little work to do.

Now things will change again.  We’re welcoming a new toddler into the group so we’ll have to adjust the routine a little more.  All the struggles are worth it though – we LOVE our outdoor play in all types of weather. 🙂

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Snow Days

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;

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The second entrance to the garden is completely blocked but occasionally one of the little ones attempts to go this way;

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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;

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I have cleared the full circle around the hill in the ‘gravel’ area;

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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;

SD06There is a small pathway to the tipi and the snow around it has created a nice cozy shelter – we like it;

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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 😦

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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 🙂

Sprouts

We’ve been trapped indoors all week because it is too cold to play outside.  If I had magic powers winter would be gone and we’d be out in the garden.  Instead, I brought the garden in to us.

We haven’t had much success with our indoor gardening in the past.  Indoor ornamental plants do OK but our attempts to grow edible plants indoors have usually failed.  I decided that this time we would try growing sprouts.

First the toddlers checked out the sprouting supplies that I purchased from Sage Garden Herbs;

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We had two different types of seeds, an Ancient Eastern Blend, and a Crunchy Bean Mix. We put one type in each of the two sections of our sprouter;

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Then we rinsed them with water.  We used the little toddler sink so everyone could stand and watch the seeds and water mix;

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Then, we put on the cover and placed it on the counter until the next day.  At morning snack time we checked the sprouter.  Starting to grow already!

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Sprouts – Day One

We rinsed them again and by Wednesday there were even more sprouts;

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Sprouts – Day Two

More water and Thursday – Wow!

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Sprouts – Day Three

Time to taste them.  Baby one just wanted to play with them;

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Baby two was unimpressed;

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Both the two-year-olds ate theirs.  One claimed they were ‘delicious’ but shuddered after every bite.  The other ate them by the handful and wanted more.

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I absolutely loved this gardening project which we could see from seed to harvest in under a week.

Sixteen Days & Counting

Page G4 of the Best Practices Licensing Manual For Family And Group Child Care Homes  contains licensing regulations and guidelines regarding outdoor play.

The Regulations state:

regulations

The Guidelines include;

Guidelines

This has been an extremely harsh winter.  So far there have been sixteen days that were too cold for us to go outside to play.  That is well above the two days we had to stay indoors last year and this year isn’t even over yet. Still, I know providers who have only been outside a handful of times this year – probably due to the source of their weather information.

The chart below shows a small excerpt of data I’ve been collecting to compare the conditions at three different sites – the Winnipeg Airport, The Forks, and the weather station in my back yard.  All of the conditions were recorded at the same time on the specific day during a two week period.  The ‘Feels Like’ temperature is the wind chill effect – a combination of temperature and wind.

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As you can see here of the six dates shown there were four days that would have been too cold to play outside at the airport or The Forks but only two days that were too cold in my yard.  I even have my weather station mounted in the windiest part of my yard – high on the pergola, above the height of the shed or garage where there is the the most wind and the least amount of shelter.

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Yes, if your yard is a wide open field with no shelter from the wind then the weather conditions at the airport would be similar and therefore a good source of weather information.  If you don’t have your own weather station there are many other options available besides the airport or the Forks.  Weather Underground lists 26 weather stations in the Winnipeg area – just click on the ‘station select’ button and find one near you that has a similar environment to where you go to play.

That way the children have the opportunity to learn from experience. They can notice that it feels warmer when they stand in the sunny area than in the shade.  They can discover what objects offer the best protection from the wind.  They can experiment and instead of standing at the window ‘looking’ at the cold they get a chance to ‘feel’ it.  Even if it is only a few minutes before they determine it is too cold to be fun and we head back inside.  It is still a better learning opportunity than using a screen to tell you it is cold outside.

We’ll continue to play outside whenever possible because we certainly don’t want to be stuck indoors all day every day. However, there is one thing we don’t miss this year – waiting for the school bus.  Luckily I don’t have to walk any children down to the school bus stop this year.  Standing at the corner waiting for the school bus is a totally different experience than playing outside and we don’t enjoy it much.   They don’t cancel the school bus until the wind chill reaches -45°C.  There are a lot of cold days that the buses are running – they’re just late so we have longer to wait outside.

In, Through, On and Under – Outdoor Babies in Snow

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.

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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;

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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.

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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.

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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…

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