Wednesday, March 5, 2014
It's not always easy for my buddies to get along. Sometimes they get upset with each other and sometimes they get upset with me. I do encourage negotiation when appropriate, but sometimes it's not really what's needed.
I read a post about using kid's angry feelings to teach them to read. Just having kids dictate their feelings and writing them out was suggested as a way to promote literacy. I wish I knew where I had seen it so I could give credit.
I thought about it for a bit and decided we would try it. I used a duotang notebook and filled it with blank sheets of paper. On the cover of the duotang, I taped emotion pictures and I labeled it "My Buddies Book of Really Big Feelings". I showed my buddies the pictures of different emotions. I explained that when they had "big feelings" we would write about them in the book. Then we went about our day.
It wasn't long before there was some dramatic mishap where one of my buddies was upset. I directed my buddy to get the book and we would write it down. And that's how it began. My buddies were quite content to get their feelings out and on paper. Often they draw a picture to go along with their tale of woe, but not always.
This has been such a great tool! I love that I am giving them the language to express their feelings, and acknowledging and validating them, too! It seems to help my buddies release those feelings instead of hanging on to them. We will go over the words I've written for them and because there was such strong feeling attached to them, they are very interested in reading them. They will also occasionally pick up the book to read themselves. It's fantastic!
When we first started using this book, I did have a surge of unhappiness - for one little buddy in particular, every little thing seemed to be upsetting. It was more of a dramatic unhappiness, rather than a genuine distress, though. I did not want to turn unhappiness into a habit so I started adding big positive emotions to the book as well. Fortunately, that seemed to solve the problem. All in all, this has been a fantastic addition to our regular routines and I think we will be keeping this up. I would encourage everyone to give it a try and if you do, let me know how it goes. I'm also on the look out for that mysterious other post that got away from me so I can thank the author. Please let me know if you've read it before, and know where it can be found.
Tuesday, March 4, 2014
This has been a very busy winter for my buddies and I. I have tried out some new ideas that have gone over so well I wish I had tried them years ago.
We know kids have a natural need to keep active and that can be more challenging in the winter when we are not outdoors as much. Even though we play outside a lot, I would dream of having a room inside my house with a big climbing structure for my buddies.
I used to think that I needed a large open space for active play. This winter I succeeded in creating an indoor playground in an average sized room. I have to move our table to a corner but it gives us plenty of play room for the toys you see above.
On any given day, I will have 5 - 7 children in my care, ranging in age from 1 year to 5 years. The 5 toys I have chosen as the best work very well for these ages. Let me tell you a little more about them.
- The Dora Sit 'n Spin by Playskool - This toy is a hand-me-down from my granddaughter. It has seen many years of use and is a favourite for my buddies of every age. It takes a little bit of co-ordinating for my buddies to learn to use their hands and arms to pull themselves into a spin but they are delighted to figure it out and can spend hours with this toy. Rumor has it that it once had sounds but I will deny it and keep the batteries well hidden.
- Radio Flyer Jumping Horse - I LOVE this horse. He was donated to the daycare by past clients. He was the first active toy that became a permanent fixture. He takes up more space than the other toys but is so worth it. I swear my buddies are able to use the horse to calm themselves. This helps to avoid possible tantrums and makes me a happy daycare lady! My buddies are usually able to climb on and off the horse easily before their second birthday.
- Mini trampoline - This is an adult trampoline and it clearly states that it is not a toy. Obviously lots of supervision is required. I like that the bounce is a little limited on this trampoline. It helps keep the jumping more controlled. My buddies have shown caution and I am pleased with how careful they are. We have basic rules and my buddies are good about following them. I can also stand it up and put it away. My trampoline has legs that can be removed, I've seen others that have legs that fold under for storage and that would be add convenience in storing. I can't imagine how many mattresses could be saved with the purchase of one of these.
- Radio Flyer Spin N Saucer - These are my number one most favourite indoor active toys. I don't have enough space for ride on cars but these work well in my room. They take a little more work to move around that a sit on car and seem to be more fun. I have two and they are in constant use. My youngest buddies are able to use these. Many of my buddies' parents have wished they came in adult size (and so do I)!
- Bilibos - These are very versatile. They can be used for spinning, stepping or sitting on or as buckets for carrying toys. I have two of these as well. They are great for any age and really promote imaginative play as well as active play.
These are the toys that have made my classroom into an active, happy place. We have less complaining, more sharing and even turn-taking! I do still have other toys up my sleeve that I keep put away for special activities. These include scarves, ribbon sticks, dance and exercise videos and music, bean bags, hopscotch, bowling, balls and a parachute. I also had play tunnels which we really loved but have now worn out.
If you're struggling to keep your active kids happy, try creating an active play space that satisfies their needs. If you've already done this and have more ideas for us, I would LOVE to hear them!
Wednesday, February 5, 2014
If you've never thought of food as a craft material before you are really missing out. FOOD is the best craft material out there. Are you not convinced? Allow me to share this little poster to prove my point.
See? How great is this? I know, I know, you're convinced, right? You can't wait to get started? Just need some ideas to get you started? Well, here you go!
You could start by PAINTING WITH PUDDING. This is a great multi-age activity.
Or you could make some playdough that is meant to be eaten! Chocolate or Marshmallow?
Are you just trying to get your kids to eat healthy? Who could resist these vegetables?
All my buddies love making cookies. We make these simple gingerbread cookies every year. You could get extra creative with some frosting, too!
So now that you are all excited about crafting up some snacks you're probably thinking you're stuck with a ton of craft supplies, right? WRONG! Here's the best thing about this post. It is part of The Ultimate Guide to Craft Materials.
That means that you will be able to find a craft for just about every craft material you might have in that cupboard. Every one! And when you run out of craft materials, come back here and start crafting with food again because by then my whole page is going to be filled with FOOD CRAFTS! It will be awesome! And you're going to link your ideas too, right? RIGHT!
Let's GO! Add your food craft idea below and I will pin it on pinterest and share on my facebook page:
Tuesday, January 28, 2014
The chocolate playdough I made last week went home with my buddies so I was playdoughless. We can't really function properly for very long without some form of playdough kicking around so I whipped this stuff up. I had been debating about what kind of playdough to make when I found all these boxes of herbal tea in my cupboard. Since we very rarely drink tea, it had expired and I didn't think it would taste very good. It still smelled fantastic though, and it would be a shame to throw it out. It would be perfect for playdough.
My usual playdough recipes have cream of tartar in them and I didn't have much of it so I searched to see what I could substitute. You'll note this recipe has lemon juice and baking powder in it - google told me that either of those could be used as substitutes depending on what you were adding them to. I used both in my playdough, just to be safe. They seem to have worked well. We've had our playdough for two weeks now and it's still in great shape!
Here's the recipe:
Herbal Tea Playdough
2 cups of flour
1 cup of salt
2 cups of water
3 tbsp. oil
1 tbsp. baking powder
1 tbsp. lemon juice
tea from assorted tea bags (cut and emptied)
Add all ingredients and mix together in a saucepan on the stove over medium heat. I prefer to use a large fry pan because it seems to cook more quickly with more of the playdough in contact with the heat on the bottom of the pan. Keep stirring it and watching it. The playdough is ready when it all suddenly clumps together. Remove it from the stove and take it out of the pan. Knead it carefully as it cools down. Then it's ready for play!
I love giving my buddies still slightly warm playdough to play with. I don't provide tools right away either. At first, I just want them to feel the dough with their hands. The tea gives the dough a slightly gritty texture that is different from most of the playdoughs that we make. After they've played for a bit, it's time to break out the tools for even more fun! I hope you'll give this recipe a try.
Monday, January 20, 2014
This edible chocolate playdough could not be any easier to make. Just combine 1 can of frosting and 1 1/2 cups of cornstarch. Knead it until it's smooth and play with it just like any other playdough.
I hope you will try this recipe out at home. It's so easy kids could make it themselves and it's even taste-testable! It would be absolutely perfect for some Valentine's Day play!
Thursday, November 7, 2013
It's that time of year again. Time for me to roll my eyes every time someone mentions Christmas. Or Christmas shopping. But not this year! This year I'm pretty excited because I have been given the opportunity to share something that is going to make Christmas shopping a lot easier. Maybe even a WHOLE LOT easier for some lucky person!
Did you see the pretty little girl in the photo above? Well, that's one of my grandchildren. Shopping for her and her brother is just so much fun! It's easy to go overboard and get them things they don't need and things they already have! Not this year though, because this year we are using CheckedTwice!
CheckedTwice is a free online gift registry for families and friends to create and collaborate on holiday and special occasion wishlists – making gift-giving simple, organized, and fun. CheckedTwice makes it easy to add gift ideas from anywhere, create and manage lists for younger children, share gift giving across family, friends, and other groups, and more. And no spoilers here – CheckedTwice won’t reveal what’s been purchased from your registry, so the joy and surprise of gift-giving stays intact! When less time is spent shopping and the gifts are guaranteed to please, there’s more time to celebrate the season with friends and family. Happy Gifting! This could very well be the best Christmas ever! And guess what?
One lucky winner will receive $500 to help you get started on your holiday shopping!
CheckedTwice is giving away $500 to help you get started on your holiday shopping! Giveaway ends November 18th at 8 pm ET, open to residents of US and Canada, ages 18+. Use the Rafflecopter form at the bottom of the page to enter. Good luck!