Thursday, 25 August 2016

Wet-felted Play Mats - Imagination Explosion.

The girls at the daycare where I work love felting.  I introduced this craft to them a few years ago and we all still love getting together to create.  Recently we had a needle-felting workshop and the girls were amazingly adept at creating little story props and children's toys.  They made balls, mushrooms, hedgehogs, turtles, dollies, birds, mice and boats.  You can see some of the items adorning the wet-felted play mats below.  

We talked about how effective these little characters are at story time.  As the educator models how to use the story mat and accessories the children can soon use the items themselves in imaginative play. Along with needle-felted items I like to include "loose-parts" on the play mats as well.  Sticks and stones, chestnuts or conkers, pinecones and glass gems are some examples of things that suit this type of play invitation.

The next workshop we had was to make wet-felted play mats.  I usually like to do these on a Saturday morning because they are more labor intensive and take a bit longer.  However, being as it is the summer here, the vote was to reserve week-ends for free time and do the workshop during the week.  Everyone was a bit tired but they all created amazing story mats!  Some created theirs with an actual story in mind and others made theirs to be used any way the child imagines.

This little mat has a lovely cave for the mouse to live in and a gorgeous river running through.  Notice the needle-felted mushroom and turtle which transforms this mat.  Some stones carefully placed make this mat so inviting.


This mat has an open-ended concept and can be used multiple ways.  Right now some unique and colorful mushrooms are placed by the flower garden and some farm animals look right at home by the pond.  There are little tree cookie "trees" on the side with a drilled hole and a piece of greenery inserted.  


This colorful fall mat is based on the story of the Little Blue Truck.  Complete with a mud puddle the children are sure to enjoy this mat for many hours.  This play mat also has a tree cookie tree!


Here is an example of loose parts on a play mat.  There is so much thought provoking ideas available to the children here.


The children in the toddler room never tire of Old MacDonald and his farm.  The beauty of this play mat is that it could be used for other things as well.  Maybe insects would be at home here or it could be used as part of a forest or garden exploration


This quaint mat was created based on the story, "Who Sank the Boat?".   Can you see the tree stump on the bottom left corner?  There is a little mouse poking his nose out of the little doorway.  As well, a river and a cave provide interest.


I was very proud of everyone for their hard work and great ideas.  I know the children will all benefit immensely from the storytelling and the imaginative play that these felted mats provide.



Wednesday, 27 July 2016

One of our Daycare Yards.


Our toddlers played outside for three hours this morning. Outside time is very important to us as educators because we see the positive effect it has on the children.

 The post today is featuring our top yard where we spent most of our time.



Temperatures hit 32 degrees Celsius today so it was especially nice to be in this particular yard given the generous shade provided by the pine trees.



Our yard was recently up-dated with a lovely plank fence.  The children can easily see into the yard down below.



Years ago the volunteers built a log cabin and an awesome wooden truck that has traveled many miles and carried many a load in the back.



This is the view of the actual daycare center but mostly I was admiring the many trees, many shades of green, home to many birds.



This top yard has numerous swings.  This one is homemade, literally a large piece of cloth the children hang in, push off and twirl around and around.



A tire swing that has room for three to sit or stand.  Lucky today they had someone to push!





And a cozy hammock swing that is good for a little quiet minute.


Talking of quiet minutes, there are places in this yard where one can sit in the grass and ponder.



A little water can add complexity to the children's play and learning.  Pouring, scooping from one bucket to another and what happens to the sand that went in there?



Little rivers are fun to step in and jump over!



Today I just let the hose run and the children used the water how they wanted.  Cleaning off a friends shoes for example.



Our large sand box is well used.  From this vantage point the children are surrounded by nature.  








Driving the old wooden truck.  I wonder where she is off too?



Room for two.



These two are in a ferry boat going to an island to visit Grandma and Grandpa.

Hope you enjoyed the tour.

And this is just one of our yards!  Lucky kids!

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Celebrating Children's Art.

We celebrate home made art in our home.  When my three children were young I was always thrilled to see what they created at school or at home and kept as many pieces as I could reasonably store.  I thought it would be fun for them to look back on some of their work from years past when they were older.  Both of my adult daughters still enjoy many forms of creating art and make it a priority in their down time.

My grand-daughter's work is just as important.  If you were to walk into her home you would see much of her work framed and in a prominent spot in the all rooms.

She recently painted this for me.   She told me she is especially proud of the sun.  She did a bit of color mixing which she loves to do.  There is also moss and a tree.  I love the bright colors, the perspective and I know she exercised a great deal of tenacity to complete this 20X18 piece.


It is front and center in my dining room.


 A more humble piece, just some golden yellow and purple looks stunning in a frame.


One day her mom signed her up at our local Art Studio for the "Stay Cool" workshop.  The three of us were so excited!  



Her anticipation trumped any nervousness and she knew her mommy would be waiting in the tea shop next door.


She was signed up for two, hour and a half sessions.


The children were going to be using painting, collage and print making techniques to make an acrylic on canvas in their workshop.


Some serious painting has gone on in here.


When we went to pick her up she was still at work.  Using scrapers to make fancy designs as part of the print making.


She chose vibrant yellow for the background of her canvas. These canvases are really large.  It would have taken some work to cover it.


Her designed pages are drying below all ready for day 2.


Evidence of her hard work!


We regrouped at the tea shop for a little snack.

She is telling her mommy all about it!  She remembered the rules.
1. No running
2. It's no Big Deal!
3. Have fun

I just learned today that there was a fourth rule
4. Don't Panic!

She told us that she followed rule #3 the most.  I'm so glad for her about that.



Day #2.  She is placing her special, glittery gem on the top of her ice-cream cone.


The finished product before the canvas is stretched onto a frame.


A little bonus creation.  Polymer clay ice-cream cones attached to a key chain holder.


Thoughtful and a bit tired.


What a great experience she had.  She will definitely remember this day.

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Aside from the obvious pleasure making art can give a child, there are many other great reasons to do art daily.

The New York Center for Arts Education provides this list of benefits for children to participate in art activities.

  • Your kid learns to think creatively, with an open mind
  • Your kid learns to observe and describe, analyze and interpret
  • Your kid learns to express feelings, with or without words.
  • Your kid practices problem-solving skills, critical-thinking skills, dance, music, theater and art-making skills, language and vocabulary of the arts
  • Your kid discovers that there is more than one right answer, multiple points of view
  • School can be fun – playing can be learning
  • Your kid learns to collaborate with other children and with adults
  • Arts introduce children to cultures from around the world
  • Your kid can blossom and excel in the arts.  Even with physical, emotional or learning challenges, can experience success in the arts.
  • Arts build confidence.  Because there is not just one right way to make art, every child can feel pride in his or her original artistic creations.
  • Arts build community.  Schools with a variety of differences can celebrate the arts as one community.
You can read the whole article HERE











Friday, 1 July 2016

Infants as Competent Learner's


I had a really fun week.  I usually work in the toddler room.  This summer though, I had the opportunity to take a leave (read, much welcomed rest!) and am just filling in for some vacation time.  So, this week I found myself in the infant room.  As usual, when I spend time with infants, I come away amazed!  

Since I have been reading and learning more about the RIE (Resources for Infant Educarers) a philosophy based on the work of Magda Gerber, I have a greater then ever appreciation and respect for infants as tiny, capable, and competent human beings.  Throughout this blog post I would like to share some of my observations and also include some of Magda Gerber's wise quotes.

My co-worker put our a bin of oatmeal as a sensory experience for the infants.

They became scientists.





They clutched it with their hands, scooped it with cups, spooned it, poured it, tossed it, stepped in it.

And tasted it.  Of course.

An infant always learns. The less we interfere with the natural process of learning, the more we can observe how much infants learn all the time.


Children do not play because they learn; They play because they play.
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The infant room has a beautiful, well used patio that is fully enclosed.  Just outside is a lovely, bright flower garden and bushes.  We can hear squirrels and birds and cars and trucks going by in the parking lot.






What infants need is the opportunity and time to take in and figure out the world around them.
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The parents have been invited to share small posters with pictures of their family.  They might include pictures of grand-parents or other significant family members as well as pets or pictures of special events etc. Laminating the posters allows the children to enjoy them at eye level. These two little boys spent a lot of time this week enjoying the posters.  I could see that the pictures were very valuable and special to them.  They could point out mom and dad, find the dog and see the grandma and grandpa's.




What parents teach is themselves, as models of what is human - by their moods, their reactions, their facial expressions and actions. These are the real things parents need to be aware of, and of how they affect their children. Allow them to know you, and it might become easier for them to learn about themselves.

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While some of the little's were sleeping, I got to spend some outside time with these not as little, little's.  Water and dirt.  It never fails to be the best toy ever!







By closely supervising our infants, by allowing them to do what they are capable of, by restraining ourselves from rescuing them too often, by waiting and waiting and waiting, by giving minimal help when they really need it, we allow our infants to learn and grow at their own time and in their own way. I believe that, no matter how much and how fast the world changes, a well-grounded, competent, and confident person is best equipped to adapt to it. This is our goal.

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If you are interested in reading More on RIE click the link!

As well you can check out Janet Landsbury's website here.  She is an RIE parent educator.