Thursday, November 13, 2014

Easy Christmas Houses

 photo ChristmasHouse.png
Pin It

If you're looking for a very easy project for your children this Christmas, this one is for you!  Last year, I was planning to make the classic graham wafer covered milk carton with my buddies but wasn't able to find the small milk cartons that we usually use.  Knowing that rice crispy treats are so easy to cut, I made up a thick pan of rice crispy treats and cut the pieces into triangles to substitute for the houses.

It was fairly easy to put the graham crackers on the sides.  Mine just stuck to the rice crispy treats but you could use frosting to attach them, too.  I had premade this part of the houses on sturdy disposable plates.  Then I handed them out and provided my buddies with assorted candies and some frosting and let them go to work.  They had a great time and were able to finish their houses independently.  This would be a great class project for a group of kids because once the houses are made, they don't need much assistance.  I think they turned out great!  They were so pleased to take them home.

 photo EasyChristmasHouses.png

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Fashion vs Function

Pin It

It's that time of year again when I know that parents are shopping for kid's clothing. Some of the clothes are just irresistable and you just can't help but purchase them. I ought to know, I'm a grandma!  And Grandmas can't resist shopping for the grandkids!

choosing Kids Clothes : Fashion vs Function photo KidsClothing.png

Fortunately, or perhaps unfortunately, depending on how you look at it, I know that some of the cutest outfits are just not child-friendly.  You have to look at the function of the clothing.  What is it's specific purpose?  If the clothing's only purpose is to look cute you've got a big selection to choose from.  But, if your children are anything at all like my buddies, they require more from their clothing.

  • My buddies are always busy.  They need clothing that is comfortable and safe.  Nothing should be too tight or pinching.  Footwear should be comfortable and secure.  Shoes that fall off easily are a tripping hazard and there's no fun in that.
  • My buddies want to be independent.  They need clothing that is manageable.  Velcro is a friend!  Elastic is an ally.  Snaps, ties and tiny buttons are not your friend when you are 2 and struggling to put on your clothes.  You want to join your friends already at play and you've already said "ME do" 20 times today and the daycare lady is helping the baby so if you have to wait for her help you aren't going to be first to get to your favourite toy.  <GASP!>  No lace up shoes, Mom and Dad, please, at least not until I can tie laces myself! 
  • My buddies move from active to quiet activities and can easily become cold or hot.  They need clothing that layers, so they can easily add or remove pieces.  Layers work well with our ever changing weather, too.
  • My buddies work hard and play hard.  They get dirty.  Often.  They need clothing that is washable.  I don't like ruining my buddies' clothing, but I know it happens.  When it does, I hope it's not the irreplaceable shirt that the favourite auntie bought for my buddy to wear on special occasions.  Keep that one safe at home, please.
  • My buddies are exceptionally cute.  They don't need all the extra accessories in order to be cute.  Remember this when adding the belts, hair accessories, hats and scarves and the like.  These items are often taken off and are hard to keep track of.  If these items don't have a function, they may be a nuisance that only serves to impede playing and learning.
Hope these tips have been as helpful to you as following them is to children!  If you have any of your own tips I'd love to hear them!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

The Writing's on the Wall

Pin It
The writing was on the wall.  I wasn't particularly pleased with it being there, either.  It happens from time to time in daycare and the best way I have found to manage it is to have my buddy (who happened to be my grandson this time) clean it up.  I don't say much, just that writing doesn't belong on the walls and that it needed to be cleaned.  I hand over a scrubber and maybe a little soap.  Sometimes it's easy to clean and sometimes it's not but it's ALWAYS a good learning experience.  It's almost never as much fun cleaning the writing off the wall as it was putting it there.  The few times when it IS as much fun?  Well, then I will happily hand over scrubbers and cleaning cloths for the whole group and have a clean up party.  Win/win!

Remove the writing on the wall
Removing the writing on the wall


Monday, July 28, 2014

Raspberry Slime

 photo RaspberrySlime.png
Pin It

Summer is the perfect time for sensory play.  I have been coming across lots of slime recipes, many of them on Fun at Home With Kids .  All these recipes inspired me to try my hand at creating some slime fun for my buddies.  I wanted something non-toxic, since some of my buddies are very young and I wanted to be sure it would not be irritating on sensitive skin.  This is what I came up with using ingredients from my kitchen.

Raspberry Slime Recipe

  • 1/2 cup tapioca
  • 2 tbsp raspberry jello powder
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cup cornstarch

  • Boil the tapioca until the pearls are plump and clear, add the raspberry jello powder.  Stir well and allow mixture to cool a bit. Then add the cornstarch.  Allow to cool to room temperature and then let the play begin!

I put the slime outside on trays on a picnic table.  I had a variety of containers and materials for my buddies to use to explore the slime.  As I sat down to create this post, I found that Child Central Station had created a similar fantastic slime.  I especially like the look of the clear slime and I'm going to have to try that out with my buddies, too.  It's looking like it will be a fun and slimy summer! If you've never made slime, you're in for a surprise. Most kids love the feel. If you have made slime, tell me, what's your favourite recipe?

Monday, July 21, 2014

Coloured Tape and Paper Clip Bracelet

 photo Bracelet.png
Pin It

Here's a really quick and easy bracelet that kids can make. The one pictured was made without any assistance by my 7 year old granddaughter. My younger buddies would need a little help doing this, but older kids can easily manage on their own.

I provided some coloured paper clips and coloured tape.  My granddaughter and grandson got to linking the paper clips together.  My 4 year old grandson was thrilled with just linking the paper clips and it was a great fine motor skill activity for him.  His older sister was ready for more of a challenge and she was able to take the coloured tape and wrap it around each paper clip to add an extra decorative feature to her bracelet.  She enjoyed making this bracelet so much she asked to take the rest of my paper clips hope to make more of them.  

I have to put paper clips on my shopping list because I'm sure the rest of my buddies would like to do this, too.  This was a good activity for multi-aged groups as it can be as easy or difficult as skill level of the child doing it.  Happy crafting!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Multi-Sensory Snack

Mandarin orange snack, Mandarin orange wedges at room temp, and refridgerated

Pin It
Knowing that my buddies learn through their senses, I like to add in an extra sense when I can.  When you think of food, you might just think of the sense of taste.  But there are other senses that can be experienced, too.  I like to give their senses an extra challenge. Sometimes, when serving our snacks, I will serve the same item at two different temperatures. Most fruit is perfect for this, today we had mandarin oranges. They were perfect on our sectioned plates and my buddies could sort through which were cold and which were warm (at room temperature). It was a fun addition to snack time, and added a little extra learning. 


Next time you serve snack, think about more than taste.  Think texture, temperature, colour, and even scent.  Try different colours of apples or grapes, try potatoes cooked in different ways - baked or mashed, try cheeses melted or cubed, and try one of our favourites - frozen veggies!  Corn and peas are the best!  I've even found kids who won't eat veggies at all will eat them frozen.  Let me know if you try something new!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Speech Therapy - There's an App for That!

Pin It

Having been in the business of child care for over 20 years, I've had many children in my care and have always tried to help each child develop to their potential. Sometimes a child will have trouble with their speech, and I will try to help them with that as much as I can. Children today are so much more fortunate than they were 10 or more years ago. Today, their parents and I have access to so much more information and resources than we did years ago. I am so thankful for that! With the cost and long wait lists to get children in to see speech therapists, it is nice to know that there is help available outside of the speech therapist's office.  Even after a child is accepted into the speech program, which is usually only one short weekly visit, support at home and at daycare go a long way in helping children practice and perfect their speech sounds.  

About 10 years ago, when I noticed that I had several children who were struggling with speech sounds, I began searching for resources.  They were extremely difficult to come by, and, at that time, speech and language pathologists were not very generous with their resources.  I had one speech sounds development chart that had been given to me by a teacher and I treasured it and guarded it carefully.  There was an impression that speech therapy was so complicated that no one without specialized training would be able to help a child - except, maybe for parents with children in speech therapy who were being given instructions by the speech therapist on how to help.  I was thrilled to find a cd called Speechercise to use with my buddies.  I simply added a few of the speechercise song activities to our usual circle time routine.  It wasn't perfect, but it was something.  Today, it is just one of many available resources.

 photo SpeechTherapy.png

Please don't misunderstand me and think that I am discouraging any parent from getting their child into a speech therapist if they have any kind of speech delay!  Absolutely get your child into a professional because a professional can diagnose any underlying cause of the speech delay.  There may be a physical reason that the child is struggling with speech.  What I am saying, though, is that you don't have to wait and do nothing.  There are lots of resources!  The video above is just one of many apps available for parents.  There is a small charge for the Tiga Talk app, but there are many free ones as well.  Visit the Tiga Talk home page here.

Technology has been getting a bad rap lately and there is a general consensus that children are exposed to too much technology.  It's easy to see why that might be, as children seem naturally drawn to these things.  Early childhood educators and child care providers are even going as far as banning all technology from their classrooms.  I prefer to make use of children's natural affinity for technology and use it to help children's development.  There's no denying that technology is here to stay and when not overused it can be as valuable a tool as any other in our environments.  

Technology will not cure everything, either, and should not be solely relied upon to correct speech problems, either. Reading stories, singing songs and just having face to face conversations with your child are very important.  Here's a link to some of our everyday activities for language and literacy skills.  

I hope this post has been helpful.  If you have a favourite resource or app for speech, or language and literacy, please share it with me in your comments.  I will add it to this post so more readers may find it.  Thanks, and I look forward to hearing from you!

For more helpful info see:

Speech Delays and Speech Therapy