Friday, October 30, 2009

Snow Day!

As anyone here in Cedar knows we got the first snow of the season this week. What a fantastic time for kids! One of the first things they asked to do that day was play out in the snow. So...we did! As you can see they had a great time. The little ones spent most of their time making tracks everywhere they could, playing "king of the hill" and chasing Koko through the snow. Oh and sampling the newly fallen cuisine was also a favorite.

The older kids went out after school and immediately set to stockpiling snowballs and setting up forts for battle. They were out there for over an hour, taking only a short hot chocolate break.

The snow's mostly gone now for this week anyway. But what a fun hint of what is to come!

Monday, October 26, 2009

All about the Weather, October 13 - 29

As some of you know we had Swine Flu around here this month and so preschool go thrown off track a little! Despite that we did manage to learn a little about weather over the past few weeks. We talked about thunder and lighting, clouds, rain, sunshine, snow (of course!) and wind. Below you can see us making our rain sticks. We also did wind paintings by blows globs of paint across our paper through straws. The cloud matching game taught us that clouds are shaped differently and helped us look for patterns and matches. We made rain on the floor and swayed in the wind like trees. We learned about the different types of clothing we wear in different types of weather and even got a hands on experience with the snow.

The BEST Play Dough recipe EVER...

So I KNOW what you are thinking...."I HATE play dough!" I've heard it from almost everyone. If you buy it your spending money on something that won't last. If you make it, it stinks and feels weird. Plus it's just a big fat MESS right? Well it is a mess...I'll give you that, but kids LOVE it (see how focused they are above) and it will provide hours of entertainment for them. Plus this recipe is awesome! The texture is really nice and smooth, you can do any color you want and it smells good thanks to a secret ingredient.

In addition kids can actually learn a lot by playing with it. Playing with Play Dough increases hand strength, motor skills and dexterity. With a little help from mom or dad kids can learn a lot about colors, shapes and smells (with recipes like this one!) Play Dough is a great spring board for all sorts of imaginative play. At the daycare a favorite of the kids is making cooking and muffins, but they can also make their own characters for a show or bug collection. Find objects of various textures and let the kids make impressions in the dough. Play dough is also excellent for letting little ones learn to use scissors

Older kids will love to help you make it. The recipe would be great for the scientific method. Ask the kids questions about what they think will happen as you complete various steps in the dough making process. Make a hypothesis and chart the results. Experiment with adding different scents, colors or textural elements.

Play Dough haters...I would encourage you to give this recipe a try. Yes, it's a mess...but your kids will love it and you might just find it enjoyable as well. Good luck!

I actually got this recipe from my local Child Care Resource and Referral. They are a great resource for me always providing TONS of ideas and support, but they have a lot of resources for parents as well. The Southern Utah office has their site HERE.

Child Care Resource and Referral Favorite Playdough

Mix together the following in a medium sauce pan: 1 C flour, 1/2 C salt and 2 teaspoons cream of tarter. (These pictures show a double if you make this version yours will look like half as much!) Add 1 Tablespoon of oil, 1 C water and 1 package of Koolaid.

I like to mix the water and Koolaid together first and then add it. The Koolaid is what gives it your color and your yummy smell. If you want and even stronger scent I would add two packages. Color can be enhanced by more Koolaid, or by adding some food coloring. For this particular batch I didn't have green Koolaid so I used Lemonade and added blue food coloring to make green. (Can you see the potential with kids here...teach them to love science like this when their little and they will excel in it later!)

Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly. It will look like useless goop for a minute...don't worry! It will thicken up and it doesn't take long.
For this batch I wanted more of a "ghoulish green" (versus the mint green that I had) for Halloween so I adjusted the color as I was cooking it with food coloring.
After a few minutes it will get thicken, harder to stir and start to form a soft dough. Don't let it get too dry, but it should be fairly thick. It might take a few times of making it to get it right.
I then let it cool for a few minutes and knead it out on the counter in a *little* flour to get the consistency and texture just right.

And that's it folks! I'm a big fan of doing colors to go with the season or theme we are talking about. For Halloween we have a pumpkin orange, ghoulish green and wicked witch purple. For an ocean theme you might do a big batch of ocean blue. Christmas could be green and red.

Store it in a plastic baggie in the fridge. I usually keep mine around for a week or so until the kids get bored of it or it gets too dry. Good luck with this and let me know in the comments if you try it and like it!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

C is for Cow, D is for Duck, Sept 28 - Oct 9

These two weeks we spent learning all about the farm and what FUN that was! We learned about what happens on a farm and what the farmers do. We spent lots of time learning about farm animals: cows, horses, chickens, ducks, pigs and sheep. Some of the activities we did these two weeks included:

Painting with Buttermilk and Chalk (dipping the chalk in buttermilk before you color with it makes it stick better to the paper)
Making our own Scarecrow (stuffing newpaper into a "farmer's" clothes)
Acting like animals
Listening to animal sounds and guessing what they were
Making butter (take whipping cream and shake it like crazy until butter forms. It has to be at room temperature to work though!)
Making A Horse of a different color (Pinning clothes pin legs on various colored horse shapes)
Played with different types of feathers
Walked like Chickens and Ducks
Made Patterns out of Animal Tracks
Painted our own farm scene on carboard then built on it with blocks and play animals
Sorted out which animals live on the farm and which don't
Deviled Eggs and Pigs in a Blanket
Drop the Feather Game

The hit of the week however was the SONGS! We learned Old MacDonald had a Farm, B-I-N-G-O and the Farmer in the Dell. The Chicken Dance was also a HUGE hit! Daily requests for singing time almost first thing every morning!

Drop the feather, also provided great opportunity for feeling different TYPES of feathers.
The Chicken Dance
Even the little ones love circle time!

Working on our scarecrow

Painting our farm.

Other fun things you could do at home to reinforce what we learned at school:

*Have your child dictate a "cow tale" or a "horse tale" to you. Have them tell a story about a cow or a horse and write it on a cow or a horse shape. Verbal and creative thinking skills will be reinforced with this project!
*Sorting seeds: Do you have seeds leftover from the garden or flower beds? Mix them together and let your child sort through them with tweezers. Have them sort them by size, shape, color or type into muffin tins or another divided container. This helps develop great pre-math skills.
*Clop, Clop: Provide different types of blocks and a plank of wood. Let them experiment to find the best "clopping" sound.
*Pig tails: Make piggies tails out of pipe cleaners by shaping around a pencil.
*Paper Plate Pigs: Make pig masks from paper plates, use small paper cups or section of TP tubes for snouts.
*Pretty in Pink: Let the kids mix red and white paint with their fingers to make pink and then paint with it.

September 21st - 25th, The Senses

C is for Can't seem to stay Caught up! In all seriousness...welcome back! Sorry for the absence. We've been so busy having fun here there's been no time left over for blogging!

This week we spent time learning about our senses. Kristy was on vacation most of this week so Misty spent the week helping us learn all about our hearing, sight and taste. Below you can see us experimenting with glass jars and the different sounds they make when they are filled with different amounts of water.

Mom and Dad: Kids at this age love to show you that they are noticing the world around them and using their quickly developing senses. Do you notice that your kids will hear the dog bark or the train whistle that you have learned to tune out? Encourage your children to listen for and identify different sounds they are interested in. Encourage them to try different types of flavors (sweet, salty, sour). Provide "tactile" objects and materials for them to play with: sand or salt for finger drawing, egg cartons and different type of material for walking on, play dough and finger paint made out of various materials. (I have some great "recipes" I'll try to get posted on here!)