Saturday, April 18, 2015

Coloured Salt Exploration

Coloured Salt Play - How to make coloured salt, play activity ideas photo Coloured Salt 1.png

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We have often used salt trays as a fun mark making activity.  I thought I would change it just a little and provide my buddies with coloured salt with a slightly different texture.  I took about 2 cups of salt, and added about a teaspoon of liquid watercolours and a tablespoon of flour.  The flour takes away a little of the grittiness of the salt and gives it a texture quite pleasing to touch.

Exploring Coloured Salt photo Coloured Salt 2.jpg

They were seated at the table and I gave them each a tray with the yellow salt on it.  They made some marks, but mostly they seemed intrigued with the feel of the coloured salt on their hands and they smoothed and spread it around for a long time before beginning to use their fingers to make marks. There were lots of spirals and circles on their trays.

Coloured Salt - extending the play photo Coloured Salt 3.png

They were still busy with this activity when it came time for lunch, so I transferred the salt onto one of my classroom tables.  It has a nice ridge around the edge which helps to keep the mess to a minimum.  I added some new accessories.  I like containers with twist off lids because my buddies must use both hands working together to open or close them.  My paint cups are perfect for this. I added a funnel and a couple of scrapers, and a ladle and colander as well.  They were keen to try out the new accessories.

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The next day as we went out for a walk we came across workers at the park doing some maintenance work to a baseball diamond. I really believe in letting my buddies learn from the things that go on in our neighbourhood, so we asked what they were doing. One of the men explained about the tools they were using. They had tools that looked like rakes but the actual name for them was lutes. After they spread the sand around with the bobcat and the lutes, the bobcat left and brought back another tool called a float. The men attached the float to the back of the bobcat and the bobcat dragged it around in circles around the field. I couldn't help but be reminded of my buddies' circles in the salt trays.

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That afternoon, when they got up from nap, something else was waiting for them. I had removed the trays to make space and added a tractor and some other small vehicles. These things are always popular with my buddies so I wasn't suprised to see their excitement as they played with these.  I wanted to encourage them to remember what we saw at the baseball diamond and play with the new information.

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I had one more trick up my sleeves and surprised them when I added red lentils to the table the next morning.  I like the two sizes of sensory materials and being able to mix them and then separate them again.  

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I know that we are not done with this material yet, but I don't know what we'll do next.  I was thinking I might like to add an even larger material - like a larger bean, or perhaps I could transfer the activity to an outside table where I could give them a little water to see how it reacts.  Giving them some playdough at the table would be interesting, they could see how the materials would get mixed with the playdough but would not be easy to separate.  Or I might pack it away for use again sometime in the future.  What would you do next?

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Frozen Vegetables

Frozen Vegetables

A tip for picky eaters

This is a tip I learned long ago and it really works.  I have buddies who outgrew daycare days long ago tell me they are still eating frozen vegetables.   It's my most favourite way of serving peas!  The thing about frozen vegetables is that they just don't have that much flavour, the coldness kind of does a trick to our taste buds and they mostly taste just frozen.  Try it!

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Monday, April 13, 2015

Painting Suds

Painting Suds - Kids who aren't all that interested in other art activities are likely to find this activity fun! photo Painting Suds 1.png

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This activity came about as a result of another activity that left me with some leftover paint. Not a whole lot, but I do hate to waste materials.

Painting Suds - A great use for small amounts of paint left over after other art and craft activities photo Painting Suds 2.png

We were heading outdoors to play, so I threw the paints & some brushes into a caddy and grabbed an empty foamy soap dispenser and refilled it.  I use about a tablespoon of palmolive dish detergent and then s-l-o-w-l-y fill the dispenser with warm water.  If you fill it too fast it's going to foam up before you get enough water in and you'll have to empty it and start again.  Don't do that!  Also, err on the side of too little dish detergent because too much can clog up your dispenser and then it may be impossible to clean out and get it working again.  I've ruined many dispensers that way. You can always add a little more soap if it's too liquidy.  I haven't found a way to fix the dispensers I've ruined, though.  (Let me know if you have a trick for that.)

I basically just turned my buddies loose with the materials without any instructions.  They figured things out pretty quickly.  This was a great multi-age activity too, I had children age 2 to 8 years old playing together quite happily.

Painting Suds - Colourful multi-age activity photo Painting Suds 3.png

One of the great things about this kind of activity is that it allows kids to be creative on their own terms.  Without a lot of instructions, children are free to be creative and will often enjoy experimenting with their own artistic abilities.  This is a great pre-writing activity, too, as the children make marks in the suds, with colours or just by brushing suds away in the same way we use salt trays. 

Painting Suds - Great for beginning writing skills photo Painting Suds 4.png

I hope you'll try this one out and have some fun with it.  Let me know what you think!

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Freshen Stinky Garbages

Freshen Stinky Garbages

You don't need toxic chemicals to freshen up your garbages and diaper pails.  When my buddies go home for the weekend I grab that garbage pail and set it out in the sun!  (I don't leave the plastic bag in it, though.  Empty it first.  Then set it out.)

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Thursday, April 9, 2015

Patio Makeover

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One of the realities of living on the wet coast is... well, wetness.  It rains a whole lot. I am absolutely not complaining about the rain! As I worked on this project, our other coast was still shoveling snow. However, the rain does have it's challenges.  

I believe in lots of outdoor play and my buddies and I spend time outside every day. We have a covered patio that is used often because it provides shelter from the rain. You may have seen pictures of it before when I had it arranged more exclusively for the children's use. I had a change of heart and I have been working on making my home feel more homey and a little less classroomy. My buddies will have many years in a classroom setting, but precious few before they get there. I wasn't willing to lose the ability to do all the things we like to do on the patio, but I wanted it to look more welcoming.  I love that it is now also be a place I could use to entertain after daycare hours. 

I've always wished my patio was a little bigger, though I don't have the budget to actually extend it. I could absolutely make my patio at least seem like it was a little bigger, though.  I started with a shopping trip.  

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My husband helped pick out some beautiful things. He's a great guy like that.  See those pretty ferns in cages? His pick. They were a little pricey for me, but he wanted me to have them. His favourite are the pansies, and I always make sure that I have some of those.  I also got bags of river rock, some bricks, plants and pots.  

My plan was simple.  I took the trellises that I had just at edge of the patio and moved them out a little over a foot.  Just like that I had increased my patio size!  I really had trouble getting plants to grow right next to the patio anyway, so I'm hoping that the space farther out will be better suited for any plants I put directly in the ground.  In between the patio and the trellis space, I put bricks down in a pattern and then filled the space with the river rock.  I brought up some of my favourite ornaments and pushed the two metal trunks that I have sitting on the patio out farther towards the trellises.  I'll probably give them another coat of paint to protect them since they will be more exposed to the elements, but since they were designed to be outdoors, they should be okay.  

I'm loving the new patio and we've had many rainy days where we've been able to use it much more effectively since expanding it. We've built with blocks, painted and coloured and even enjoyed drinking hot chocolate on a dreary, drizzly day. We've enjoyed our first rainy day barbeque of the season, too!  What else do you think I could do to improve this space?  I'd love more ideas!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Homemade Blocks

Homemade Blocks - A village created from homemade blocks decorated by kids photo Homemade Blocks 3.png

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Most projects have beginnings and endings but this one is one that we started and seem to keep working on.  My husband had a box of scrap wood pieces left over and he asked if I could use them with my buddies.  He's just beginning to figure me out ;)  OF COURSE I could use them with my buddies!

We have been colouring on them with markers and crayons, writing on them with chalk and we've painted them, too.  We've sanded the rough edges a bit, but they could still use some more work.

Homemade Blocks - building and stacking photo Homemade Blocks 1.png

In between the painting, colouring and sanding, there has been some building.  They've been stacked as towers and even built into a great city.  This as been another great multi-age activity that all my buddies aged 2 to 8 could feel successful at.

Homemade blocks - colouring with chalk photo Homemade Blocks 2.png

We're going to keep at it for a while and when they seem to be done adding to them, I think I would like to add a protective coating. We'll be using them outdoors so I'd like to help make them last a little longer.  

Homemade Wooden Blocks photo Homemade Blocks 4.png

Wooden Blocks - made from scrap wood, decorated by kids photo Wooden Blocks.png

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Upcycled Denim Easter Basket

Upcycled Denim Easter Basket photo Easter Basket 2.png
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If you're tired of the usual Easter baskets, I found a cute and easy basket you can make out of a discarded pair of jeans.  I had found a cute tutorial for some denim baskets and pinned it to my craft board without really knowing what I'd do with it.

I don't like most of the baskets available at Easter.  I wanted something a little more crafty for the grandkids and then I remembered the ones I had pinned.  I thought they'd be perfect.  I had a pair of jeans ready to be upcycled, too.

I followed the tutorial on Hometalk to make the denim baskets.  I didn't have any modge podge for the flowers and I was looking for something a little less complicated, so I made mine differently.

Denim Flowers photo Easter basket flower.png
Denim Flowers

I took a piece of denim and brushed a thinned solution of tacky glue over the surface.  After it had completely dried, I traced 5 large circles and one smaller circle with a permanent marker.  I cut the circles out and placed the large circles in an overlapping circular pattern.  I used my hot glue gun to stick the smaller circle onto the middle of the flower.  Then I flipped it over and glued the back flower petals together to hold them in place a little better.  I had a little flower button that I used to sew in the middle and also sew the flower onto the denim basket.  

Upcycled Denim Easter Basket photo Easter basket.png

I think they turned out pretty cute. The grandkids were pleased to find their Easter baskets and hopefully they will find a use for the basket once the chocolate and candy is gone.