Monday, June 17, 2013
Water is one of our favourite play materials. I was excited to surprise my buddies with this water exploration station. I could tell you that it was a great hit, but this time I'm just going to show you!
This was just so much fun that I have to leave it up for a while. I hope to try it out with a few different sensory materials, too. Maybe some water beads, or goop, or schloppity schlop, or... What would you use?
Thursday, June 13, 2013
I was really excited to make these with my buddies and I'm even more excited to share them with you! They were fairly easy to make using t-shirts, wax paper, elmers clear glue and assorted acrylic paints.
We started by pre-washing and drying the shirts. I then laid them flat with a sheet of wax paper inside to protect the back of the shirt from any paint seeping through. Then I created a tie stencil by folding another sheet of wax paper in half and cutting half a tie shape so that the tie would be symmetrical when I opened it up. I used the clear glue along the edges of the tie stencil and placed it in the correct position on the front of the t-shirt.
I put a selection of acrylic paint on a paint tray and my buddies used a brush to dab paint onto the cut out area of the stencil. You want to try to have only a small amount of paint on the brush at a time and you may have to guide very young children to dab the right area. Remove the stencil but keep the inner wax paper inside until the paint dries. I like to throw the t-shirts in the dryer for 15-20 minutes after the paint dries just to be sure it is well set. I used a sharpie to add my buddies' names on the bottom corner of the tie, too. I think they will make great keepsakes for their dads for Father's Day. I hope they like them!
Sunday, June 9, 2013
I am just thrilled to be participating in the School's Out blog series along with over 25 other Kid Blogger Network participants. We all want to keep our kids actively learning this summer and we've put together a great list of ideas to keep your kids learning all kinds of topics all through the summer.
Summer weather provides an abundance of opportunities to learn about plants. There's nothing better for hands on learning about plants than actually getting out in the dirt and planting them! If you'd like to have some fun learning about plants this summer, here's my top 10 favourite ways:
1. Plant a garden - whether it's a flower, vegetable or herb garden, children will be fascinated to watch their little seeds sprout and grow. My buddies and I have a preference for flowers, but the Educator's Spin on It has me convinced I need to grow KALE!
There's so much to be learned from gardening. See some of the ways that science learning creeps right in at Kindergarten & Preschool For Parents and Teachers.
2. Start some seedlings - I confess that sometimes I cheat just a little and buy my seedlings. And I have been seen sneaking a seedling into a pot where my buddies have carefully planted seeds that don't want to sprout. You can start your own seedlings, too. Here's an inexpensive way to start a lot of plants at Juggling With Kids and another at Housing a Forest. I was amazed to read how this group of kids raised enough money to buy a trampoline by growing and selling their seedlings! You can read their story here: Starting Seeds.
3. Plant cuttings - many plants can be started from cuttings. You can take a snip off of the plant and stick it in water for a few days until roots show. Then plant them in dirt. My favourite house plants for cuttings are spider plants and wandering jew. They are so easy to start that you don't even need rooting hormone. I've also started roses and geraniums this way. True Aim has some great tips on starting plants from cuttings.
4. Re-grow veggies - many of our every day veggies can be regrown from salvaged parts and it's surprisingly easy. We have grown celery and carrots and I've heard you can regrow green onions, too. You can compare our celery experience with how Housing a Forest grew theirs.
5. Create a garden sensory bin - I have found that with my buddies, the excitement of planting does not simply turn into patiently waiting for things to grow. Once they get the taste of digging in the dirt, there's no keeping them out! The best way to keep the newly planted garden safe and the kids happy is to give them some dirt that they can dig in. I adore the elaborate garden sensory bin set up at Fantastic Fun and Learning.
6. Create a flower shop or garden store - Setting up a dramatic play area for kids to play out what they have learned is helpful in processing all the things they've learned. Imagination Tree has an amazing flower shop that I want to re-create for my buddies this summer.
7. Grow an exotic plant - You can really perk their interest with some exotic plants. I love the terrarium made by Juggling with Kids. I've been growing a Venus Fly Trap with my buddies.
8. Play with WEEDS! - They are the expendables of the plant world. I can't even begin to tell you how much I love the dandelions, clover and buttercups in my yard!
9. Learn some plant names - Try to identify plants in your neighbourhood. Go to a plant nursery and find some new plants, too. This is an opportunity for adults and children to expand their knowledge. Check out 3 Dinosaurs visit to their local shop.
10. Try some plant crafts! - Many vegetables and flowers lend themselves to crafting. Celery, broccoli, and flowers are often used for stamping. Using the plants in this way allows the children to explore the plants in new ways and make observations about textures that they may not have originally noticed. Similarly, using their knowledge of flowers, they can make a flower like the children at This Reading Mama or these at the Imagination Tree. I think that crafting that follows your theme or child's current interest just helps cement that knowledge in.
I hop you enjoyed my favourite ways of teaching my buddies about plants. If your favourite isn't here, let me know so I can include it, too. The more ways I can incorporate into learning, the better I like it, and the more fun we can have!
For many fabulous ideas once School's Out, please visit these wonderful KBN bloggers:
Sunday ~ This Reading Mama | The Educators' Spin on It | Kitchen Counter Chronicle | Rainbows within Reach | Kindergarten & Preschool for Parents & Teachers | Monday ~ Train Up a Child Learn as We Go | Housing a Forest | Royal Baloo | Living Montessori Now | Tuesday ~ Toddler Approved | Play Trains! | 3 Dinosaurs | Wednesday ~ The Outlaw Mom | Teach Beside Me | Hands On as We Grow | Thursday ~ JDaniel 4's Mom | All Done Monkey | Fantastic Fun & Learning | KC Edventures | Playing with Words 365 | Friday ~ Teach Mama | The Usual Mayhem | Nature and Play | True Aim Education | Saturday ~ Creative World of Varya | Craftoart | My Buddies and I
Friday, June 7, 2013
My buddies and I have made quite a few different handprint crafts over the years. This one is as delicious as it is cute. Best of all, it's easy to make! Using this Foolproof Chocolate Fudge recipe on the Eagle brand website I was able to make enough to create four chocolate handprints. I made the recipe on the stovetop but I imagine the microwave version would work just as well. Instead of the square pan, I used a rectangular pan. My buddies are all under the age of 4 so their hands are not very big, if your children are bigger you might want to make more. I guarantee you won't be disappointed in the fudge. After lining the pan with foil, I pressed the fudge into the pan with a rubber spatula. I then placed a layer of plastic wrap over the top of the fudge while it was till a little warm. I had each of my buddies press their hand onto the plastic wrap and into the fudge.
I want to do this project again, but this time I would like to flip it out of the pan and make handprints on the bottom of the fudge instead. That way the handprint would be on the smoother, flatter surface. I think I would also cut it into the four sections before making the handprints and this would give the edges a smoother cut. Either way, this was a craft that was as easy to do and as it is sure to please!
Monday, May 27, 2013
Sleepovers call for a special breakfast and since my pancake-loving grandkids were with me, I wanted to make the fancy pancakes I had seen a couple of times on pinterest. As luck would have it, I didn't have the complete list of ingredients for either of the two recipes I had found. Grandmas don't give up, though, and I thought I could create some fun pancakes with what I had.
Rainbow Bit Pancakes
1 cup of "just add water" pancake mix - I highly recommend Krusteaz brand
1 cup Rainbow Bit cake mix
1 cup water
1 tbsp. oil
Mix the cake mix, egg, water and oil until smooth. Then add the pancake mix and stir just until mixed together. Fry as you would any pancake.
This recipe makes about a dozen pancakes.
My grandkids topped theirs with strawberry syrup, a little whipped cream and, of course, chocolate sprinkles!
I preferred mine plain and I will have to say they were pretty tasty, not too, too sweet, and I hope to start a tradition of making these for special breakfasts when my buddies are celebrating a birthday!
Wednesday, May 22, 2013
My buddies are usually pretty good about eating healthy. As a general rule, I don't have to work too hard to get them to eat good food. I like serving fruit and vegetables as often as possible because this tends to be the food group lacking in many children's diets. I stay away from too many cracker type snacks because I know that these are often over-served.
When it's a challenge to get my buddies to eat their veggies, I have a couple of tricks up my sleeve. One of the common tricks is to dress up the veggies to make them visually appealing. Making smiling faces is pretty easy to do. For these smiling faces, I used corn, snap peas, broccoli and then some mozza cheese cut to make a nose and hair. It's kind of fun and less likely to be rejected based on looks alone.
The lesser known trick is to serve vegetables FROZEN, right from the bag. Frozen vegetables don't really taste like anything but frozen. The freezing dulls the taste and it's also a novelty to eat them this way. Parents are always surprised when I tell them that their children are eating veggies that they won't eat at home. Corn is especially sweet and is a good one to start with for especially picky eaters. Peas and/or carrots would be my next choice for frozen veggies. As they get used to eating the veggies frozen they will be more likely to try fresh or cooked versions. Happy healthy eating!
Tuesday, May 14, 2013
My buddies were due for updated play area and I began with creating a new art area. My buddies and I spend a great deal of time outdoors and I try to create spaces for all types of play. Art is a favourite activity and it deserves a special place dedicated to it.
Last year, a piece of canvas hanging on my fence gave my buddies ample opportunity to try different art experiences. This year, in place of the canvas, I have hung a heavy plastic banner (the printed side is against the fence.) I am sure a plastic tarp or heavy shower curtain would also work well for this. The bonus is that this can be easily washed clean as often as needed.
I had my husband frame the area off with landscaping ties and I put down bark mulch so that it doesn't become a mud pit. (I would LOVE to have a little deck space there someday.) I placed my art table in the corner and used a little tikes fence along one side and placed the play kitchen against the other making the corner a more distinct space from the rest of the yard. I used bamboo poles to stabilize the plastic fence. I have planted scarlet runner beans along side this area and hope to cover the poles with vines.
Until the vines grow and blossom, to add colour, I attached hooks to the fence and hung plastic pails above the plastic banner.
To inspire my buddies to try printing letters and numbers,
I attached two all weather posters of the alphabet and numbers to the left of the banner.
A water jug and bowl sit in the corner for convenient washing of paint brushes or splatters.
I think I'm going to need a lot more paint this summer!