Wednesday, December 29, 2010

About the Kids

Favourite Things: music, puzzles, books
Favourite Toys: drum, pots and pans, tambourines
Favourite Foods: cheese sandwich, blueberries, strawberries, eggs
Favourite Music Circle Songs: I'm a Little Teapot, BINGO, Old MacDonald, Shoo Fly
Common Utterances: "No", "Water", "Music", "Where my drum?"

Favourite Things: all vehicles and motorized things (including lawn mowers, leaf blowers and whipper snippers), arts and crafts (including Playdough) 
Favourite Toys: ride-on fire truck, car ramp, dress-up clothes
Favourite Food: peanut butter and jam sandwich, pizza, banana, yogurt
Favourite Music Circle Songs: Hurry Hurry Drive the Fire Truck, Key to the Kingdom, Shoo Fly, Itsy Bitsy Spider
Common Utterances: "Oh wow! Look at that!" "That's Mine." "I hungry!" "I see tractor!" (when he hears the tractor outside)

Favourite Things: books, singing, emptying and filling containers
Favourite Food: yogurt, banana, whole wheat crackers, hummus
Favourite Toys: pretend food, Mr. Potato Head, pull toys, red ride-on car
Favourite Music Circle Songs: Itsy Bitsy Spider, Twinkle Twinkle, Wheels on the Bus, Five Little Ducks
Common Utterances: "Blanket?!", "More cracker?", "Bye everyones! I say that!?"

Favourite Things: conversation (or any social interaction), opening, closing, and hiding in closets
Favourite Foods: yogurt, pita & hummus, banana
Favourite Toys: car ramp, red ride-on car, ride-on fire truck, shape sorter
Favourite Music Circle Songs: Hurry Hurry Drive the Fire Truck, Ring Around the Rosie, BINGO, Five Little Pumpkins
Common Utterances: "That's mine!", "My turn.", "Hiiiiieeeeeee!" "Mommy and Daddy."

Favourite Things: dancing, jumping, playing outside
Favourite Foods: apple, hummus, Nutrios
Favourite Toys: bike, car ramp, ride-on fire truck, talking house, Scout the talking dog  
Favourite Music Circle Songs: Zoom Zoom Zoom, Ring Around the Rosie, Bumpin' Up and Down, Mr. Sun 
Common Utterances: "Dipee!" (diaper), "What you doing?" "M." (her name), "Water", "No pushing!" 

Friday, December 24, 2010

Recipe for Christmas Tree Sugar Cookies

  • 1 and 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 and 1/2 sticks butter (1 stick = 1/4 package of butter)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 1tsp vanilla
  • 3 and 1/4 cups flour
  • 2 and 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Mix ingredients together until fully combined.
  • Roll out the dough and use a Christmas Tree cookie cutter to cut out the shapes. (Use extra flour if dough is sticking.)
  • Place shapes on greased cookie sheet.
  • Brush egg white on top of the cookies and scatter green sprinkles on top.
  • Bake in the oven for 6-8 minutes (depending on how thick you made your cookies).
  • Enjoy!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Christmas Tree Craft for Two-Year-Olds

This is another craft idea I got from the book "December Decorations", by Peggy Parish. I modified it slightly by having the kids paint the trees, rather than using construction paper. It's a very simple craft - perfect for the very young!
Materials: paper, pencil, Bristol board, scissors, paintbrush, green paint, tape

  1. Fold a piece of paper in half.
  2. From the fold outwards, draw one side of a Christmas Tree.
  3. Cut it out. Unfold it. This is your Christmas tree template.
  4. Place the paper tree over the Bristol board and trace the outline of the tree two times.
  5. Cut the two trees out of the Bristol board.
  6. Have the child paint both sides of both trees. (You may want to let one side of the trees dry before having the child paint the other sides.)
  7. After the paint has dried, cut halfway up the middle of one of the trees. Cut halfway down the middle of the other tree.
  8. Merge the two trees together into a 3D Christmas Tree by fitting them together at the slits.
  9. Use clear plastic tape where the trees meet in the middle to secure them together.

    Saturday, December 11, 2010

    Paper Bag Santa Puppets

    Here is another Christmas craft we did this week. And here was the major lesson that I learned: This activity is too hard for 2-year-olds! Yes, soon after we began the Paper Bag Santa Puppet craft, it became clear that I had overestimated their abilities. I had planned to put the glue on for them, so that they just had to place and push each item onto where I pointed. I broke each step up, and was very clear and visual in my instructions. I even did the first step myself, before starting the craft with them. It was still too difficult.

    Aidas and L. working on the puppets while the others were still napping.

    I realize I should probably know better than to try a formal craft with children this age. I guess I just got overzealous because of all the fun crafts that come to mind in the Christmas season. So...basically, it was ME who made some fantastic Santa puppets today!

    Doesn't L.'s face say it all?

    I have decided to go ahead and post the instructions for this because it is a really great craft for older children, perhaps 3 years old and up? I have modified the original instructions to suit a child who can do more of the parts himself.

    It is helpful to complete a Santa puppet yourself, first. This way, the children have a model. They have a general idea of what their puppet should look like and will understand better when you are giving them instructions.

    Here are the instructions for making one puppet.

    • brown paper bag (large size) 
    • red construction paper
    • black foam (or black construction paper)
    • Elmer's white faux fur 
    • large googly eyes 
    • Aleene's Tacky Glue
    • school glue 
    (Note: All of these items are available at Walmart)


    Black foam cutout:  rectangle measuring 5 and a half inches across, and 1 inch down

    Faux fur cutouts: 
    • pompom - circle measuring 2 inches in diameter
    • hat trim - rectangle measuring 6 inches across and 2 inches down
    • beard - crest shape measuring 6 inches across (The length is up to you. I made an opening for Santa's mouth about 1 inch from the top. To do this, just fold the beard in half after you have cut it out. Then, cut out a triangle shape on the folded side by making two small cuts: one across, and one diagonally up.) See image below:

    Red construction paper cutouts: 
    • body - rectangle measuring 5 and a half inches by 10 inches)
    • hat - measuring 6 and a half inches across - make the end of the hat, where the pom pom will go, half an inch wide (The shape is really up to you. I made the hat rise up a few inches, then curved the top over in a semi-circle shape, LIKE THIS:) - scanned image

    1. Place the brown paper bag on the table with the flap facing the child, and at the top. Flip the flap back, and glue (using the school glue) the 'body' just under the crease. (The child will probably need your help to hold the flap back while she is gluing.) The part below the flap should now be covered with red construction paper.
    2. To give Santa a hat, spread a line of school glue horizontally across the top of the flap. Press the bottom of the hat onto the glue.
    3. Spread some Tacky Glue all the way across the bottom of the hat, and press the fur trim on.
    4. Dab a bit of Tacky Glue onto the tip of the hat, and press the fur circle on.
    5. Glue two googly eyes onto the flap of the bag, just below the fur trim of the hat. (school glue)
    6. Spread a line of Tacky Glue along the bottom of the flap, and press the top of the beard onto it.
    7. Lastly, give Santa a belt by gluing the foam horizontally just below the middle of the 'body'. (Tacky Glue)
    Your Santa should look something like this:

      Tuesday, December 7, 2010

      Daycare Dramas

      Let the cold and flu season begin. Some of the kids (including Noah) were sick last week. During a very teachable moment, the kids stood riveted as I rinsed puke out of blankets in the bathtub. I felt so bad for the sickies and tried to give them extra attention whenever I could. They were able to talk about who was sick, and even tried to care for one another (at least to some degree).
      For example, when M. was sick, Noah sat beside her on the couch and beautifully sang "Let's Go Fly a Kite" for her.
      Then, her caring brother held the sippy cup for her so she could take in some fluids without lifting a finger! 

      My mother gave Noah some more hand-me-down toys. One of the items was a musical mat. The kids had a blast dancing on it, and surprisingly did not hurt each other! (yet!)

      After their aerobics workout, Noah and Aidas switched gears and started a toddler yoga class.
       They soon gained many followers. The downward-dogs I witnessed were almost perfect in form....except for the head on the ground part.

      They are also enjoying playing with the alphabet wall. I remember when Noah and Aidas only ripped the letters OFF the wall! 

      I now have two walkers, and may enlist a third due to the bulkiness of snowsuits and boots. Noah and L. know to stand directly against the wall as soon as we get outside, so that they are safe while we finish putting everyone's hats and mitts on. We are all trying to adjust to the winter routine. I put on M. & L.'s hats on last since they seem to get over-heated more quickly than the others. While playing outside, there have been numerous mishaps like slipping in the snow, getting snow on the skin, and mittens falling off. They mostly enjoy their outside time despite this. Nobody likes outdoor time as much as B., though! He would stay out there all day if he could!
      Here they are, all staring in awe at the garbage truck (which is difficult to see in this pic). Later, at the lunch table, this was THE topic of discussion. It's a very exciting world out there!

      Thursday, December 2, 2010

      Hanukkah Menorah Craft and Activity for 2-year-olds

      There is so much talk about Christmas at the daycare, lately. We are playing Christmas music, reading Christmas books, and decorating the Christmas Tree. Since Noah will also be celebrating Hanukkah this year, I figured, why not talk about this celebration at the daycare as well? It really is never too early to teach diversity.

      This is a craft, followed by an activity that I think will at least familiarize the children with the words "Hanukkah" and "menorah". I hope that the children will at least be able to point to our menorah when I question where it is. It would be even better if they could correctly label the item when shown the menorah. In addition to familiarizing the children with Hanukkah, it also serves as a counting activity and helps to teach ordinal numbers.

      I will begin with the instructions for the craft: making the menorah. As with many other crafts undertaken for children this age, half of it is done by the adult. The idea for the craft is not my own. It can be found in the book DECEMBER DECORATIONS, by Peggy Parish. However, I have modified it slightly, by having the children paint the parts of the menorah rather than covering them with construction paper.

      Materials: paper plate, toilet paper roll, paper towel roll, paintbrushes, paint (green or other darker colours would be best), construction paper, clear tape, straws, scissors

      1. Have children paint the paper plate, toilet paper roll and paper towel roll
      2. Using a pencil or pen, poke 9 holes along the top of the paper towel roll. Try to space them as evenly apart as possible.
      3. Place the plate on a flat surface. Stand the toilet paper roll on one end and tape it to the middle of the plate. 
      4. Place the paper towel roll across the toilet paper roll. The Middle of the paper towel roll should be resting on the toilet paper roll, so that it balances, and the 9 holes should be facing directly up. Tape the paper towel roll to the toilet paper roll. (The amount of tape needed to make this menorah is excessive, and may be reminiscent of those informal crafts you did at home as a child - not well!)
      5. Cut 9 straws about 4 inches long (which will be the candles). 
      6. Using yellow or orange construction paper, cut out 9 'flames'. Stick one to the top of each straw, using clear tape.  

      Start this activity on the first day of Hanukkah and continue it for the 8 days of Hanukkah. (Before beginning this activity it would be helpful to show them a real menorah, or at least read a couple of very simple childrens' books about Hanukkah.) Show them the menorah without any straws inserted.  

      Normally, there would be two candles in the menorah on the first day of Hanukkah; the Shimash, which is the candle used to light the eight other candles, and the first candle which signifies the first day of Hanukkah. Leave out the Shimash until the end of the activity. It will just confuse the children and hinder their understanding of numbers. (You would be telling them that it was the first day of Hanukkah, but they would see two candles.) In fact, in retrospect, it would probably be better to make only 8 holes in the paper towel roll and leave the Shimash out altogether. 

                EACH DAY OF HANUKKAH
        • Using a real menorah (if you have one) and/or other pictures of a menorah (e.g. in books), ask the children, "What is this?" Give them time to answer, but regardless of whether they know or not, be sure you label each one clearly and slowly. Bring out the homemade menorah (without any straws in it) and label that one aloud too.
        • Have the children take turns putting in one straw per day, starting on one end of the menorah. 
        • Explain to them that it is the first, second, third, etc. day of Hanukkah. You might say, "This is the third day of Hanukkah, so there are three candles. Count with me: one...two...three."
        • Then, sing a song that will help them understand ordinal numbers better by making them more memorable. We are using the tune of "The Twelve Days of Christmas", but changing the lyrics to:
        On the first day of Hanukkah, I put in my menorah
        Just one candle
        On the second day of Hanukkah, I put in my menorah
        One! two! candles

        And on and on...Point to each candle when counting. The song won't go quite the same as the actual tune, but it serves the purpose of gaining their attention and hopefully giving them a better understanding of ordinal numbers. Each day, when it's time to sing the song, pull out all the candles that are in the menorah and start with one. Stop at the number corresponding to the correct day of Hanukkah, and build upon that each day. 

        On the last day of Hanukkah, add the ninth candle, calling it an extra. 

        At the daycare, we are doing this activity each day at the start of morning snack. Besides taking turns putting the straws in, the kids don't get to play with the menorah yet. At the end of Hanukkah, I will let them play with it. I bet it won't take long for it to fall apart though!

        As an aside, we have been singing Adam Sandler's Hanukkah song, but ONLY the words "Happy Happy Hanukkah" (okay, sometimes we throw in a "play your harmonica", but that's it!). It's catchy and the kids seem to like it. It serves my purpose of familiarizing them with the word "Hanukkah".

        Tuesday, November 30, 2010

        Christmas Bell Tree Decorations

        I did this craft today with the 2-year-olds at my daycare. For this age group, part of it can done by the kids and the rest can be completed by the adult.

        Materials: an empty egg carton, yarn or thin ribbon, jingle bells (or jingles from a broken tambourine - 2 per bell), paintbrush, paint, paint smock

        1. Rip or cut off the top of the empty egg carton. Discard.
        2. Turn the set of egg cups upside down.
        3. Using a knife or scissors, cut into 12 individual cups. Each upside down cup will be a bell decoration.
        4. Have the children paint the egg cups. Encourage them to cover the cup completely with paint.
        5. Let the painted egg cups dry.
        6. Puncture a small hole through the top of the cup.
        7. Cut a piece of yarn or ribbon about 17 inches long
        8. If you are using jingles from a tambourine, tie a thick knot at one end of the ribbon. Slide the jingles on (making sure the bumpy sides of the jingles are facing each other). Tie another thick knot on the other side of the jingles, no more than 1 inch from the first knot. (Note, with a jingle bell it is a little easier. Just tie one knot and then thread the ribbon through the bell.)
        9. Next, thread the ribbon through the bottom of the overturned egg cup, so that it comes out the top. Keep pulling it until the upper knot is just under the hole. (If you're using a jingle bell, pull the ribbon until the jingle bell is about half an inch under the hole.)
        10. Holding the ribbon in place at the top, make a big loop and tie a knot so that it is securely at the top of the overturned egg cup.  
         Here are the creations of the five 2-year-olds at the home daycare.

        They were very proud to place their decorations on the bare tree. They have initiated the tree decorating!
        The loops were nice and big so that they were able to place the decorations on the tree themselves.

        Saturday, November 27, 2010

        Avocados for Toddlers

        Since Noah's early days of eating solids, he has been enjoying avocados. And since the start of the daycare in September of 2009, I have been serving avocados to the kids for lunch at least once a week. Some kids don't care for them at first, but I have been able to entice most of the children with this fruit (yes, it is a fruit) with a little time and creativity. I am a stubborn advocate for this food where children are concerned. Here's why:
        Noah and Aidas have been used to eating avocado on toast, but also enjoy it straight up. They have recently been intrigued by "avocado boats". (I got the idea from Dr. Sears's "The Baby Book".) To make an avocado boat, you just cut the avocado in half lengthwise and remove the seed. Loosen up the avocado in the one of the halves using a spoon. Then serve each child a half (skin side down) with a spoon inside. (Note: Serve the avocado very soon after preparing it. If it is exposed to air too long it will become brownish and unpalatable.)

        The twins wouldn't eat avocado until I made a toasted sandwich with it. I spread the avocado on the toast first, then spread cream cheese over top.

        I would suggest serving avocado to your baby when you introduce solids. Just mash it up.Continue serving it on a regular basis, so that it doesn't become one more green food your toddler refuses to eat!

              Sunday, November 21, 2010

              Learning about Shapes

              The children in my care clearly get lots of practice and support at home with their families, learning numbers, letters, colours, shapes, etc.  In my childcare, I am really building on the learning that has already taken place at home.

              There are different activities we do at the daycare that teach the children about simple shapes. We read books about shapes. The children play with shape sorters, and we name the shapes as we put them in. We also notice shapes around us, in the apartment and out in the community.

              Did you know that cookies and crackers are a great way to learn about shapes? The kids usually have whole wheat crackers or graham crackers (which we call cookies) as an afternoon snack. They eat them on the go in the wagon or outside. Depending on the day, they could be having "circle crackers", "rectangle cookies" or "square cookies". (Once in a while we have the Arrowroot cookies, which we call "oval cookies".) The kids often specify the shape when requesting more cookies or crackers. Just this week, one of the children was annoyed that we were having "rectangle cookies", and demanded "circle crackers" instead.

              One day this week, the kids found a shapes poster tucked away in the closet. It used to be posted on my classroom wall when I was teaching grade 4/5. We took the shapes from the shapes puzzle and matched them to the shapes on the poster. It was funny to see the kids correctly matching the trapezoid and pentagon. Little geniuses! Next week we will learn about the hypotenuse. Seriously though, are there any crackers shaped as pentagons or trapezoids? I think that them requesting a trapezoid or pentagon cracker would REALLY impress the parents!

              Thursday, November 18, 2010

              Rocking Chair

              ROCKING CHAIR (Noah and I did this at the OEYC Mother Goose Program. I have also heard it done on the show "4 Square". I think they said it is by Dennis Lee.)

              I like to rock in my rocking chair (You can rock back and forth for this rhyme, no matter where you're sitting!)
              I rock and I rock and I just don't care (Shake your head "No")
              I rock around the block in my underwear
              Then I rock back home in my rocking chair

              Sunday, November 14, 2010

              And Then There Were Two.....Two-Year-Olds, That Is!

              The kids had fun using the easel this week to draw with chalk or crayons. Aidas is really great at making vertical lines, and seems to enjoy drawing the most, at this point. They also like to go under the easel, but we have had to make a strict rule about not moving the easel. It's amazing how toddlers can turn almost any toy into a push-toy!
              The kids are loving outdoor play. They now spend at least half their time at Lithuania Park running around in the field. 

              M. has reluctantly decided that she will put in the effort to eat a cookie or cracker with her mittens on, so she is also a happy camper. In the picture to the right above, you can see that Noah has mastered the mitten-wearing-cookie-eating skill, even with one hand. This is not easy since, with the exception of Aidas, none of them are able to keep their thumb in the thumb-hole, and so fine motor skills are severely limited.

              L. wasn't too into running around in the field on this day, since he had discovered the delight of sliding down the hill in the leaves. 

              We had a really nice time painting this week. It wasn't meant to be finger-painting, but as you can see from the photo, Aidas just couldn't help himself! 
              All five of the children's paintings are now on display in the living room. I am loving the fact that the children periodically look up at and talk about these paintings. It is our little art gallery.
              On Friday we celebrated Aidas's 2nd birthday. We decorated with balloons (which Aidas calls "bayoons") and paper chains that we made the day before. At snack we sang happy birthday to Aidas. He blew out his candles, and we all enjoyed some cupcakes.

              Noah and I gave Aidas a birthday gift. It was a firefighter costume. He absolutely loved it! 

              It amazed me how well the other kids dealt with the amount of attention given to Aidas. They all understood that it was Aidas's special day. M. kept singing "Happy birthday to Aidas". L. requested to try on Aidas's costume, but handled it well when he was told that it was Aidas's present, for Aidas's birthday. He did have fun fitting himself completely into Aidas's birthday bag! Everyone seemed really happy to celebrate Aidas, and I think that Aidas did feel really special on this day.

              Some amazingly cute comments from Aidas on this day:
              • "No problem." (In response to me saying "Thanks, Aidas", for doing me a little favour.)
              • After yawning...."Oh...I so tired! I need to go to sleep!"
              • Coming into the kitchen (in his firefighter costume) as I was cleaning up and saying "Aidas to the rescue. I save the baby!" (This was not something that he mimicked from me. He came up with this completely on his own!)
              In the afternoon, after naps, we went to Lithuania park. It was a very foggy day. The kids each brought a balloon to continue the celebration.  

              M. is really getting into pretending. Here she is (above) making her famous spaghetti. We ask her when our spaghetti will be ready, if it is still on the stove, etc., etc. We even came up with a pretend oven at the playground. Noah is learning from her pretend play and really getting into it as well. Noah and I visited a Dollarama on Friday night and bought more toys for outdoor play. Hopefully it will keep us engaged outside during the cold winter months!