Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Chestnuts are for throwing. Not.

I love chestnuts!  On the University campus where our daycare center is located, there are several chestnut trees.  The last time I was out for a walk with the littles, we discovered another tree.  The chestnuts from this tree are huge!  I couldn't resist filling my pockets and bringing them back to our daycare room.

I put some out on the light table along with our leaf collection and some pinecones.

 I learn something new everyday it seems.  The toddlers teach me.  One of the toddlers was investigating the nature items on the light table and promptly began throwing the chestnuts across the room!  Of course he did!  They are perfect for throwing unless there is something else to do with them.  So I had to think quickly on my feet and this is what I came up with.

I brought out this long wooden tray with sections just right for chestnuts.  

The children took turns loading up the tray.

I also found a yogurt bucket in the kitchen.  I cut a hole in the lid and then they also had the option of putting the chestnuts in the bucket.

From basket to tray to bucket.  When the bucket was full, dump it out and repeat.  And repeat!

I thought it might also be a good idea for them to have something for the leaves to go in.

This is a kleenex box cover.  Just the right slot for the leaves.

He was trying to see if puzzle pieces would fit.  He also tried to fit the chestnuts in.  Experimenting.  Thinking.

And toddlers being toddlers, its always fun to try the bucket on!

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Nature Play and Learning.

Fall has come to our small corner of the world.  I have to admit that it is my favorite season.  I especially love how easy it is to immerse ourselves into nature at this time of year.  There are so many things for the children to explore and notice.

We spend alot of time outside at our daycare center.  We believe on a philosophical level that children benefit physically, emotionally and cognitively from spending time in free play outside.

Every now and then we have "one of those mornings".  If you work in childcare you know what I mean.  Certain dynamics can all converge to create a wee bit of craziness. 

???Toddlers... Tiredness...Tuesday...Sickness...Toddlers???

Today was one of those days.  So I packed three littles into our amazing triple stroller, added in just the right little walker to complete my 4:1 ratio and took off for a soothing, calming, grounding, refreshing walk around our gorgeous University campus.

We found so many treasures! 

We found big leaves and little leaves, and all shapes and colors.

I gave the stroller riders pinecones and leaves to hold.  

*We compared

*We measured

*We used terms like large, medium and small.  Like big and tiny.

We were doing Math!!  The toddlers were learning Math....through their play and exploration!  

We laminated our leaves to preserve them and they look awesome on the light table.   One of my co-workers suggested putting pinecones, chestnuts and leaves into a basket or bin for the toddlers to enjoy a seasonal sensory experience.

I think tomorrow we will do some painting inspired by all the gorgeous leaves we saved.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Thrill of the Chase.

We have a new game going on in our daycare yard these days.  I call it, "Thrill of the Chase".  Here is how it works.  First you roll the large balls up the hill.

Right up to the very top.  As you can see from this picture, there is a significant slope on this path.

Once the balls are at the top, you turn around and run down in front of them as fast as you can!  EEEEEEEE!

And Repeat, Again and Again!

Up and down.

Lots of laughter ensues.

This little guy can fly.

I mean really fly.  The faster the better is his choice.  He was the one who started the game in the first place.   He is embracing the challenge of using his large muscles.

Sometimes they fall, but mostly they are very competent and successful.

Only four children out of our twelve (that I know of) currently participate in this game.

Is this too much risk?  Should we as caregivers stop the game because it's too risky?  Here are some of the thoughts I have.  Like I mentioned before, only a few children will play this game.  The others observe but prefer to stay on the periphery. When I watch the ones that are playing I see choice and competence and confidence, so I trust them.  I don't walk alongside saying, "Be careful", because they are careful.  They are intuitively careful. I see them needing and loving pushing themselves to their limit.  I see them learning to regulate their speed and coordination.  I think that they need to go "too fast" in order to learn how much to slow down or what pace is just right for them.  I see them cooperating with each other and I see them taking turns. 

Practising and Mastering.

Just to be clear, the balls are are not pumped up hard, so they kind of roll down slowly and I rarely see the children bumped from behind with them.  We keep the path clear of toys and other children while this game is going on.  And actually I have noticed the other children keep themselves clear of this game for the most part.  We position ourselves nearby to supervise but are using a 
"hands-off, eyes on" policy with this game for now.  

It is hard to allow children to take risks, isn't it?  But there is so much value.


“Keeping children safe is paramount to the work we do every minute when we 
are with children. We must always stop or prevent situation that threaten 
children’s well-being. But when we do intervene on behalf of children’s safety, 
we can do it with the understanding that life has many challenges and risks, 
and children deserve experiences and tools to learn to negotiate on their own. 
The saying, “With few risks there are few rewards” is very true. Learning 
involves risk. Relationships involve risk. Feeling competent and confident in 
the world requires meeting a challenge and working to overcome it.” 
~ Curtis, D., & Carter, M. (2003). Designs for living and learning: 
Transforming early childhood environments. St. Paul, MN: Redleaf Press.


Monday, 13 October 2014

Locked Out.

I locked myself out of the house today.  I was expecting my son to be home and then realized that he was at work for a while yet.  At first I was quite frustrated because, well, this was not the first time this has happened and I fully intended to hide a key somewhere outside just in case it happened again.  So much for that idea.  

The good part of my dilemma was that it was a gorgeous fall day, a little breezy  but sunny and warm.  The bad part was that I really needed to use the um, you know, the facilities.  After texting my husband and then my son and then my husband and then talking on the phone to my son and then my daughter, I realized that I was just going to have to wait awhile until my son got home from work.  So I looked around me and enjoyed my little garden that has been cheerfully blooming all summer long and is still going!  Willed the frustration away and embraced the moment!

The geraniums have been so happy all season.  They are my hubby's fave.

These little ground cover beauties have just gone crazy and show no signs of slowing down.  

My far away daughter bought me a tea kettle full of succulents that are so amazing.

There were lots of babies from this mama so I transplanted some into my fairy garden.

I had to google how to transplant them.  I must have done it right because they all took.

There are tell tale signs of fall in my garden too.

It wasn't too long and my long legged son came striding down the sidewalk. 

Good thing, just in time.