Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Easter Excitement!

So, I don't know if I've said this before, but I'll say it again anyway. I'm not religious at all (spiritual yes, but not religious). Still, I was brought up enjoying all the children's activities that accompany the Christian holidays....and it was delightful. I feel such joy in passing on the fun and excitement I had (okay, and maybe reliving it just a little) so that other children can enjoy it at the daycare too. (I realize they are, for the most part, enjoying similar festivities at home, but I don't think they mind a double dose.)

One of the crafts we did was to paint paper eggs (I used Bristol Board).

Once the paint had dried, the older kids decorated them with glitter, stickers, yarn, ribbon and whatever else we could find in the craft bin.

The younger children also painted paper eggs, but we kept the decorations simple. They used Easter stickers, and foam shape stickers. Everyone produced something we could display on the front door.

Here is another activity that some of the children participated in. It involved painting one of their feet with whichever colour they chose, and then having them stamp their foot on white paper.

When the paint had dried, they turned this footprint into a chick, by adding a googly eye, an orange foam triangle for a beak, and some feathers. The older kids were able to draw some stick feet on the chick themselves.

This activity is so fun because they can't help but giggle when I take a paint brush to their foot! Thomas and Leila looked a little freaked out that I would paint their feet, and opted out of this activity. The youngest, though, Amadea (18 months old), was all over it. She even demanded to do more than one footprint.

We also, of course, dyed eggs. Riley and Noah did the first round of this activity and loved it.

Later, some of the kids drew on the eggs with different coloured markers. Again, artsy Amadea was right into it!

The next round of egg dyeing was underway the next day, for the little guys.

Once the eggs had dried, I helped the kids stick tiny Easter stickers onto them. Does it surprise you that Amadea outlasted them all again? At least Leila was there to give her moral support.

Riley and Noah had demanded to dye yet more eggs, so I purchased a third egg kit, and prepared more eggs. (They actually tried to help me blow some of the eggs out, but didn't get very far.) Finally, we were finished with the egg dyeing and decorating, and had two beautiful centerpieces for our dining room table.

And here are some of the decorations displayed in various locations at the daycare. I loooove children's artwork on the walls! I hold on to it for a bit before I relinquish it to the parents. ;)

And finally, I have the Easter egg hunt and party to report. Even though B. has now officially left the daycare, he is never far. We get to see him nearly every day, and he and Noah still have play dates. We were so happy that he was able to join us for this special afternoon, and his mother helped out with the festivities as well.

In fact, she and my assistant brought the little guys out to pick the boys up from school. Meanwhile, I played Easter Bunny and hid the eggs. Riley arrived late that day, but after I had hidden the eggs, so she and I waited a few minutes in the hallway for everyone else to get back.

They were pretty excited. :)

I hid plastic eggs, empty of chocolate. (I really just hadn't gotten it together in time, and when I had visited Walmart the night before, a blackout drove me away before I could purchase the chocolate.) I thank the heavens it worked out this way though, because I can, in hindsight, find numerous reasons why this could have turned a happy hunt into a chaotic mess.

Plus, they had a fabulous time enjoying the game, without craving the treats.

I hid 60 eggs in total (okay, a few extra as a safeguard), and each child was allowed to keep 10. So, once someone had amassed 10 eggs in their basket, he or she was then encouraged to help one of the other children find more eggs.

They were all very good at following this rule. When we thought we had found all the eggs, we counted them. There were not yet 60, so it then turned into a bit of a game for me, to recall where I had hidden them all!

Finally, everyone was allowed to come to the table and enjoy a marshmallow egg while I got lunch ready.

After they ate their lunch (and for the older ones, finished their veggie), they were allowed to have one chocolate egg.

The kids were very eager to play "Pin the Tail on the Bunny", and simply could not wait for me to clean up from lunch before getting this game underway. Thank goodness B.'s mother was there to help out on this front too!

Later on in the day, we played Bunny Bingo. Even Leila got into this!

Of course, we had to play it enough times to make sure everyone had a chance to win. What a beautiful day to enjoy with the kids! I hope they had as much fun as I did! ;)

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Valentine's Day and Leila's 2nd Birthday (...and Everything but the Kitchen Sink)

So, it has been quite a while since I've written a blog. Part of this was due to our trip to Israel in March, but mostly it was just the regular busyness (and tiredness) of mommy-hood that has kept me from writing thus far.

These are pictures of the kids working together to make Valentine's cookies. We did the good old, (and easy) sugar cookies, in the shape of hearts.

I baked a batch in the morning, with the four little guys, and a couple of batches in the afternoon, with the big guys (when the babes were sleeping). Riley overlaps as a little kid and a big kid, since she's too young to be in school in the mornings, and too old to nap in the afternoons. So she gets to do these activities twice, if she so wishes. Lucky girl!

The next day, to ice and decorate the cookies, we did the same thing: one session in the morning, and one in the afternoon. This REALLY worked in Riley's favour. I mean, she was able to dip into the icing, sprinkles, and smarties twice that day! I'm surprised there wasn't a coup d'etat by the older boys, over the injustice of this! (phew)

Thomas, Amadea and Leila got zero cookie decorating accomplished. But they did have a tasty treat of sprinkles and icing!

Everyone was happy, which is especially important when you are dealing with such messy, sticky stuff! A meltdown in those circumstances could have me cleaning up for days!

These are just some of the kids' creations. We divided the cookies into lots of Valentine's treat bags and gave them to friends and family for yummy heart day treats. And kept some for ourselves too. Soooo good!

Here is Noah doing a heart-lacing Valentine's craft. We also decorated paper hearts using crayons, markers and stickers.

 Another Valentine's themed activity we did was to decorate red folders (see Thomas's below) to use not only as large envelopes to collect Valentines, but also so that we could deliver kind notes to each other. I'm not sure if it was last year or the year before that we had done this, but I thought it would be fun to revisit. So, in the two weeks leading up to Valentine's Day, I encouraged the kids to either write their own kind messages to each other, or to tell me what they wanted to say to one of their friends (but it had to be a secret!) so that I could write it down. Then they delivered the messages to their friends' mail folder. I also delivered my own Valentines and messages in the days leading up to Valentine's Day.

And then, of course, we had to have a Valentine's bash on the actual day.

Here is the table nicely decorated before the party.

And here it is after the onslaught of the kids. The kids all had Valentines and treats to give each other, and also got some from me. Noah and B. obviously had lots of Valentines from school to sort through as well. We had fruit punch, or "Valentine's Juice" to drink. I also made them heart-shaped pancakes and served them with strawberries (because they're red, of course!).

Here's Thomas drinking from one of the heart-shaped silly straws that Riley gave to the gang.

Later, he worked on some stamping using Valentine's paper pads and stampers.

During our outdoor time, we brought a big stack of foam hearts and played "Hide the Hearts" at the playground.

Riley found one in a swing...that was a tricky one!

At one point we took a break to use the hearts as pretend plates at our little picnic table on the playground. Then we went back to the game! Here Riley has brought the collection of hearts she has found after Noah hid them.

It was a fun party day for sure!

Usually the kids paint at the table, since I like when they can produce their very own paintings for me to hang up. But once in a while, we paint at the easel.

This was Amadea's first time really getting into it! Actually, she outlasted Leila and Thomas, who became more intent on hiding under the easel. To each his own!

Dea, Leila and I all worked on the painting above. I wanted to help show Amadea and Leila what to do with their paint brush. Amadea caught on very fast and focused on the activity for some time. Little Picasso.

Riley is noticing letters more and more, which is naturally preparing her for reading. When I can, I try to do a literacy activity with her. This is an activity she did a few weeks ago in which she had to match the lower case letters of the alphabet with the upper case ones. She did great!

I had to take this photo below after noticing that Amadea had squished herself into a dolly bath tub. (She must have been a cat in an earlier life). 

Riley demanded to also be in the picture, so here are more kids surrounding Amadea in a dolly bath tub! :)

Leila finally started walking, just 3 weeks shy of her 2nd birthday. We are all delighted. And she is too!

Despite the bitter cold this winter, we had TONS of fun! One day, when Noah and I wanted to go home because we were too cold, B. encouraged us to skate on the ice at Lithuania Park. That kid really knows how to have fun in any weather! It was so fun, and beautiful as well. That is B. walking towards the camera in the photo below.

Sometimes we hike through the woods at the side of Lithuania Park. After we climb up the hill, and come back towards the park, we find ourselves at the top of this monstrous hill. Not once have we taken our sleds down; the hill is just a little too intense for even our 5-year-olds (though I see many other children that age who seem to master it fine).

But what we have been doing is sliding on our bottoms down different ice slides on the hill. Thomas (and I!) would go on the slide that had the least amount of ice...mostly just snow. The bigger boys had their eyes set on the icier slides but were a little too scared. They followed my suggestion of starting their slide from only halfway up, and working their way higher, if they felt comfortable to do so. Well, they were sliding from the very top in no time and having a ball! Another one of our wonderful winter days. Really, it has been a very enjoyable winter for us, despite the cold.

This is little Leila, two days before turning two years old, at her daycare birthday party! We weren't planning on doing anything too special until the afternoon, when we had the whole group with us. Well, I had to change the plans a little, because after morning snack, as I was washing dishes, she came up to me and said, "My birthday's coming up." I smiled and said "Yes, and we're having your daycare party today!" She repeated, "My birthday's coming up". I said, "Yes it is. You are going to be 2 soon!" She repeated herself one more time, but this time there was frustration in her voice, and she was on the verge of tears. I figured out the translation: "Let's get this party started."

I dug into a couple of the loot bag treats. One of the party favours was HUGE sunglasses, but they were too huge for the little guys and kept slipping off. This is why Leila is wearing her own pint-sized sunglasses in the photo above. I think it's hilarious that she pushes them to the top of her head herself. She hasn't been interested in wearing sunglasses until recently, so I didn't even know she was aware that this is something people do. She's a cool kid!

Leila insisted on helping to set the table for her own party. It was adorable.

Finally it was party time! We ate chicken dogs (one of her favourite lunches). Then it was time to sing Happy Birthday. We ate the cupcakes that Noah, B. and Riley helped to make for the party. Yummy!

We waited until after lunch to give her a present. It was a new high chair for her babies, and her friends had great fun sharing this with her. Amadea is especially into caring for the dollies lately, so I'm not sure who will get the most joy out of this gift!

I thought I'd stick these random painting pictures in for the heck of it. You know I'm never one to hold back the photos.

Wow, this is an epic blog post. Is it done yet? This is what happens when I wait too long to put a post up. Next time I'll at least try to divide it into shorter posts, for an easier read (or an easier perusal of photos).

I finish with our choo-choo train, Noah as the conductor of course. (He was happy to let others drive once he had had his time in the power seat.) They ALL really liked this activity!