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!


        Friday, November 12, 2010

        How to Make Paper Ring Chains

        This is a great activity for the age group of the children in my daycare (just over and just under 2). Not only can the activity help to develop fine motor skills like hand-eye coordination, but it can also be used to teach colours. The fact that it is simple and produces quick results helps to keep the children focused that much longer.

        We made paper chains as decorations the day before our celebration of Aidas's 2nd birthday. These chains can be used for any celebration, however, and I expect we'll be making them again as we near Christmastime.

        Materials: construction paper in various colours, scissors, clear tape


        1. Using various colours of construction paper, cut out strips that are roughly an inch wide and 9 inches long. (Thinner and/or shorter strips can be cut for older children as a variation, but large chunky pieces are much easier for this age group to manage.)
        2. Show the children how you join the two edges of a strip to "make a circle". Tape the edges together using a small piece of scotch tape. (The children can help put the tape on, but you will probably need to follow up with another piece to make sure it holds.)
        3. Instruct them to put one strip through the circle you are holding. (This will likely be the extent of their physical participation in the making of the chain.) When the strip is halfway through the circle, join the edges of that strip and tape them together.
        4. While holding it, have them place another strip through the circle you have just completed. When it is halfway through, join the two edges of this strip together and tape.
        5. Continue this process until the desired chain length is reached.
        **To help teach about colours, you can ask the child what colour they are putting through, tell them what colour they are putting through, or ask them to get a particular coloured strip.

        Saturday, November 6, 2010

        Teaching Colours, Washing Floors, and Contingency Plans

        Early this week, during morning snack, we read a book about colours. It is a Turn & Learn book in which you must turn a little wheel at the side to match the colour being referred to on the page. We talked about the colour on the particular page, and matched the colour on the wheel to it. Then, I gathered some toys of that colour and grouped them on the table. This little lesson would be virtually impossible without a 'captive audience', as they would tamper with the piles and thus not see the colour groupings. 

        We have also been noticing what colour plate, cup or bib each child is using during meal times. At other times, we talk about what colour pants, shirt or socks the children are wearing. On our outings, we have been stopping to notice colours: the red mailbox, orange pumpkins, blue newspaper box, etc. 
        After lunch one day, one of the children decided she wanted to help me wipe up the floor. Of course, then all the children wanted their own cloth to help out. It was so sweet, and I was very appreciative of their help. Part of me kept expecting them to belt out "It's a Hard Knock Life", in chorus, though.
        We have been having plumbing problems in the apartment, recently. As we were having snack on Thursday, one of the workers in the apartment building came in to fix a leak under our kitchen sink. He said it would be helpful if we would get out of the apartment for a while, since he needed to solder the pipes. So, dirty dishes on the table and all (ugghhhhh) we quickly packed up and walked to Chapters in Bloorwest Village.
        The kids had a great time playing at the Thomas the Tank Engine table, and other various activities, as you can gather from the pictures above.
        Since I was trying to keep the kids out as long as possible before their naps, I decided to give them lunch 'on the road'. We stopped at Timothy's and got a blueberry muffin, and an egg and ham sandwich. Of course, they downed this quite quickly and were hungry for more. 
        So....we stopped at Pizza Hut and ordered Cheese Bread Sticks. To my chagrin, as I was paying, the cashier added, "It'll be about 10 minutes". Oh. Four kids, tired and hungry. The video below is a small taste of what this waiting was like. (All kidding aside, they really were pretty good, considering the fact that it is excruciating to wait 10 minutes for food when you are 2!)

        On Friday we got the dress-up bin out. Then we coloured on Bristle Board, using markers and crayons. Of course, we talked again about the colours we were using as we did this activity. The kids are definitely getting more into colouring. The activity lasted far longer than it ever has....possibly a whole 5 minutes!