Tuesday, August 5, 2014

The Writing's on the Wall

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The writing was on the wall.  I wasn't particularly pleased with it being there, either.  It happens from time to time in daycare and the best way I have found to manage it is to have my buddy (who happened to be my grandson this time) clean it up.  I don't say much, just that writing doesn't belong on the walls and that it needed to be cleaned.  I hand over a scrubber and maybe a little soap.  Sometimes it's easy to clean and sometimes it's not but it's ALWAYS a good learning experience.  It's almost never as much fun cleaning the writing off the wall as it was putting it there.  The few times when it IS as much fun?  Well, then I will happily hand over scrubbers and cleaning cloths for the whole group and have a clean up party.  Win/win!

Remove the writing on the wall
Removing the writing on the wall


Monday, July 28, 2014

Raspberry Slime

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Summer is the perfect time for sensory play.  I have been coming across lots of slime recipes, many of them on Fun at Home With Kids .  All these recipes inspired me to try my hand at creating some slime fun for my buddies.  I wanted something non-toxic, since some of my buddies are very young and I wanted to be sure it would not be irritating on sensitive skin.  This is what I came up with using ingredients from my kitchen.

Raspberry Slime Recipe

  • 1/2 cup tapioca
  • 2 tbsp raspberry jello powder
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cup cornstarch

  • Boil the tapioca until the pearls are plump and clear, add the raspberry jello powder.  Stir well and allow mixture to cool a bit. Then add the cornstarch.  Allow to cool to room temperature and then let the play begin!

I put the slime outside on trays on a picnic table.  I had a variety of containers and materials for my buddies to use to explore the slime.  As I sat down to create this post, I found that Child Central Station had created a similar fantastic slime.  I especially like the look of the clear slime and I'm going to have to try that out with my buddies, too.  It's looking like it will be a fun and slimy summer! If you've never made slime, you're in for a surprise. Most kids love the feel. If you have made slime, tell me, what's your favourite recipe?

Monday, July 21, 2014

Coloured Tape and Paper Clip Bracelet

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Here's a really quick and easy bracelet that kids can make. The one pictured was made without any assistance by my 7 year old granddaughter. My younger buddies would need a little help doing this, but older kids can easily manage on their own.

I provided some coloured paper clips and coloured tape.  My granddaughter and grandson got to linking the paper clips together.  My 4 year old grandson was thrilled with just linking the paper clips and it was a great fine motor skill activity for him.  His older sister was ready for more of a challenge and she was able to take the coloured tape and wrap it around each paper clip to add an extra decorative feature to her bracelet.  She enjoyed making this bracelet so much she asked to take the rest of my paper clips hope to make more of them.  

I have to put paper clips on my shopping list because I'm sure the rest of my buddies would like to do this, too.  This was a good activity for multi-aged groups as it can be as easy or difficult as skill level of the child doing it.  Happy crafting!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Multi-Sensory Snack

Mandarin orange snack, Mandarin orange wedges at room temp, and refridgerated

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Knowing that my buddies learn through their senses, I like to add in an extra sense when I can.  When you think of food, you might just think of the sense of taste.  But there are other senses that can be experienced, too.  I like to give their senses an extra challenge. Sometimes, when serving our snacks, I will serve the same item at two different temperatures. Most fruit is perfect for this, today we had mandarin oranges. They were perfect on our sectioned plates and my buddies could sort through which were cold and which were warm (at room temperature). It was a fun addition to snack time, and added a little extra learning. 


Next time you serve snack, think about more than taste.  Think texture, temperature, colour, and even scent.  Try different colours of apples or grapes, try potatoes cooked in different ways - baked or mashed, try cheeses melted or cubed, and try one of our favourites - frozen veggies!  Corn and peas are the best!  I've even found kids who won't eat veggies at all will eat them frozen.  Let me know if you try something new!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Speech Therapy - There's an App for That!

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Having been in the business of child care for over 20 years, I've had many children in my care and have always tried to help each child develop to their potential. Sometimes a child will have trouble with their speech, and I will try to help them with that as much as I can. Children today are so much more fortunate than they were 10 or more years ago. Today, their parents and I have access to so much more information and resources than we did years ago. I am so thankful for that! With the cost and long wait lists to get children in to see speech therapists, it is nice to know that there is help available outside of the speech therapist's office.  Even after a child is accepted into the speech program, which is usually only one short weekly visit, support at home and at daycare go a long way in helping children practice and perfect their speech sounds.  

About 10 years ago, when I noticed that I had several children who were struggling with speech sounds, I began searching for resources.  They were extremely difficult to come by, and, at that time, speech and language pathologists were not very generous with their resources.  I had one speech sounds development chart that had been given to me by a teacher and I treasured it and guarded it carefully.  There was an impression that speech therapy was so complicated that no one without specialized training would be able to help a child - except, maybe for parents with children in speech therapy who were being given instructions by the speech therapist on how to help.  I was thrilled to find a cd called Speechercise to use with my buddies.  I simply added a few of the speechercise song activities to our usual circle time routine.  It wasn't perfect, but it was something.  Today, it is just one of many available resources.

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Please don't misunderstand me and think that I am discouraging any parent from getting their child into a speech therapist if they have any kind of speech delay!  Absolutely get your child into a professional because a professional can diagnose any underlying cause of the speech delay.  There may be a physical reason that the child is struggling with speech.  What I am saying, though, is that you don't have to wait and do nothing.  There are lots of resources!  The video above is just one of many apps available for parents.  There is a small charge for the Tiga Talk app, but there are many free ones as well.  Visit the Tiga Talk home page here.

Technology has been getting a bad rap lately and there is a general consensus that children are exposed to too much technology.  It's easy to see why that might be, as children seem naturally drawn to these things.  Early childhood educators and child care providers are even going as far as banning all technology from their classrooms.  I prefer to make use of children's natural affinity for technology and use it to help children's development.  There's no denying that technology is here to stay and when not overused it can be as valuable a tool as any other in our environments.  

Technology will not cure everything, either, and should not be solely relied upon to correct speech problems, either. Reading stories, singing songs and just having face to face conversations with your child are very important.  Here's a link to some of our everyday activities for language and literacy skills.  

I hope this post has been helpful.  If you have a favourite resource or app for speech, or language and literacy, please share it with me in your comments.  I will add it to this post so more readers may find it.  Thanks, and I look forward to hearing from you!

For more helpful info see:

Speech Delays and Speech Therapy

Monday, July 7, 2014

Counting Carrots

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It was early in the spring and my buddies and I had filled our pots with dirt and planted some seeds.  My buddies loved the dirt and I knew it was going to be hard to wait for the seeds to sprout. I also knew they would find the pots of dirt irresistable.  Dirt and kids are made for each other, right?    I took some of the left over dirt from our planting and poured it into our water table. I had purchased some little carrot candy holders from the dollar store. I emptied them and stuck the carrots into the dirt. Then I waited for my buddies to discover this activity on their own.

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It didn't take them long before they located buckets and garden tools. They got to digging and pulling up their carrots. I threw in a little math and had them count the carrots they dug up, too. They enjoyed replanting their carrots as much as they enjoyed pulling them. I enjoyed how easy and inexpensive this activity was to set up. And I loved watching them have fun while learning, too.  We are sure to do this activity again.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Labelling Toys for Learning

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My buddies and I were playing with our tool bench and all the assorted tools and as they would pick out and bring a toy to me I would give them the name for it.  We hadn't played with these toys for a long while and my buddies were really interested in all of them.  With my limited tool knowledge, it wasn't long before I was handed a tool for which I had no name. I didn't know what it was. Fortunately, my husband was home, and he gave us the names I didn't know. I was thinking about how much easier this little labelling game was with our dinosaurs, where I could just flip the dinosaur over and read the name off the bottom and look like a real scholar!  I was also thinking about how popular labelling is in preschool classrooms - labelling shelves and furniture, and putting lots of literacy posters on the wall.  I decided I would add the names of the tools to the tools.  Not only would it help me remember the names of the tools, but it would also help promote literacy skills with my buddies.  When one of my buddies discovered "phone" written on the back of the toy phone, I was questioned about it.  As an early reader, not yet in kindergarten, she hasn't yet learned about "ph" making the "f" sound.  I think that with the phone being labelled, she will  be reminded of the new information she has learned every time she picks up the phone. 
This little experience taught me a lot and has the potential to help my buddies learn so much!  What if I labelled all my toys?? Imagine the possibilities!!!! I have to go now - I have lots of toys that need labelling!