an early education learning space ~ where play equals learning

October 7, 2015
by countryfun

Continuing Education

October is when I make sure I have all the paperwork together needed for my relicensing. That means CPR training, health record on pets, water tests, paperwork on children in care, and my training hours. For licensing at this time, I only need 12 hours of training, but being a Step 3 on the Quality Rating System for ME I need more. I also need CEUs for renewal of my teaching certificate. To acquire the variety of hours I need I take online webinars, monthly networking with local child care providers, college classes, and daylong conferences.

After 27 years in early child care following 10 in the public classroom, it’s also interesting what is triggered through conferences and training.

This past weekend I was involved in the Fall conference put on by MaineAEYC (NAEYC state affiliate) that was about the new Maine Early Learning Developmental Standards for 3-5 yr olds and how to meet them through Play. Not only did I get to work on this conference, but in attending I got to spent 6 hrs. with over 100 other professionals that through their work with young children understand the importance of quality child care for children birth on. So much of my practice was reinforced through discussions, but one key point was that we can let too much into our spaces and that does not serve the engagement and learning of children. I had just that week started removing toys from the space that children where just leaving around. I was seeing first hand that there was too much within our space. So, I removed half. Stepped back and then removed half again. I then reorganized the storage containers to just 5 floor baskets and moved the large play pieces around. In removing items I made sure to keep in mind where interests as well as developments needs are for the children in care. Play in the last 2 days has been more engaged, focused and actually I’ve even seen more movement with the additional open floor space.DSC07014

I has also taken training around curriculum and assessment this summer which have lead to refinement of philosophy and policy on PLAY which can be found within the parent handbook.

There are changes coming soon with licensing and we just received a listing of new training areas they are going to be looking for us to have ~

  • Prevention and control of infectious diseases
  • SIDS and safe sleep practices
  • Administration of medication
  • Prevention/response to food allergies
  • Building and physical premises safety
  • Shaken baby syndrome and head trauma
  • Emergency preparedness and response planning
  • Storage of hazardous materials and bio contaminants
  • Transportation of children
  • First aid and CPR

We do not know if this will be yearly, take once or repeat periodically. I have taken trainings in most of these areas, but it’s good to redo as there is always new material to learn and refresh yourself on. To that end I just completed a 3 hr. training by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) on Prevention and control of infectious diseases. Information was not really new to me, but I will be refining my health and illness policy to support parent understanding around exclusion. I also want to share resources around illnesses to support families. I’ll included quick reference sheets in the sidebar for easy and continual access on the common cold, signs and symptoms and fever.

These will also be posted on my Facebook and Google+ pages to be viewed and shared.



September 21, 2015
by countryfun

It’s That Time Again for the “Common Cold” to Visit

I have written about the common cold, hand washing and flu at different times over the years. Since I have a houseful of runny noses I figured it was a good time to post about this topic again. Our “common cold” season runs from September until March or April, so children usually catch most cold viruses during these months.


cold_fluThe ‘common cold’ is the most common illness of young children. It is caused by viruses that infect the nose, throat and sinuses. These viruses enter the body through the eyes, especially and the nose. Entry through the mouth is not as big a concern.

The typical symptoms of a cold in young children include:

  • runny or stuffed-up nose and sneezing
  • coughing
  • loss of appetite
  • fatigue
  • mild fever
  • headache
  • mild sore throat

It’ easy for us to see the first signs of the first 5 on the list, but the last 2 are harder, as our youngest children they are often not able to explain to us how they are feeling. During the early stages of a cold, often before there are more visible symptoms, your child may be out of sorts or irritable.

Colds usually run between 4 to 10 days. Most children feel miserable for just a few days of those days.

It may seem like you are dealing with one cold after another all winter, and you might be. Young children can get as many as 8 to 10 colds each year before they turn 2 years old. It does drop down some after that, but with the large number of viruses that can cause colds and new cold viruses developing, children never build up resistance against all cold viruses, just the ones they have had.

Cold viruses are passed in 3 ways:

Direct contact: kissing, touching or holding hands with an  person sick with a cold. If you have a virus, there are germs in your nose, mouth, eyes, on your skin, you pass on the virus with physical contact.  – I cannot stop the touching or close contact, but when colds are here I try to stop the hello and goodbye hugs and kisses. We’ll come up with other creative ways to acknowledge our friends. That is also why I encourage kisses only on checks throughout the year.

Indirect contact: touching a toy, doorknob, a used tissue, etc., that has been touched by an infected person and now has germs on it. The common cold virus can live on objects for several hours, allowing time for your child to touch the object and then rub their eyes or nose. – The best best to combat the number of colds is hand washing! That means warm water, soap and a good scrubbing job (20 seconds). We talk about making as many bubbles as we can that cover the whole hand, especially between the fingers. This will usually get us to the 20 seconds. Or you can sing some simple songs together.

  • Wash your hands after coughing, sneezing or wiping your nose.
  • Wash your hands after being in contact with someone who has a cold.
  • Wash your own hands and your child’s hands after wiping your child’s nose.
  • When water and soap are not available, use pre-moistened hand wipes or alcohol-based hand rinses. Keep hand rinses out of your child’s reach because they may be harmful if swallowed.

We also know that some germs spread through the air when a person coughs or sneezes. Droplets from the cough or sneeze may reach another person’s nose  or more likely land on a solid surface that will later to touched by another person. – Children here are taught to sneeze or cough into their elbow crease or upper arm. Catching a cough with the hand is no longer what is taught. That just concentrates the germs on the hand and then they are spread very easily.


Well, now you have a child with a cold, so what can you do to help them get through it as quickly and comfortably as possible?

  • Making sure your child gets plenty of rest.
  • Giving your child plenty of liquids.
  • Use a humidifier in your child’s bedroom at night. The humid environment will help to keep your child’s nose and chest clear, making it easier to breathe.
  • Using children’s acetaminophen or ibuprofen to lower fever and reduce aches. Talk with your health care provider before giving any child under age 4 an over-the-counter cold or flu medicine.
  • In very young children with congestion, you can use a nasal bulb to gently remove mucus. You may also spray three drops of saline nasal spray into each nostril.

September 1, 2015
by countryfun

Summer 2015 Wrap

With more parents using Facebook and Google+ for the primary communication point to see quickly what’s been happening in their child’s day, I find I have been putting more photos up on those sites and less articles with details here. This has been especially true this summer.

Children love to see themselves, so as we switch over to the Fall and new school year, I pulled together a slideshow for them to view and talk about what they did this summer.

Here it is to share with you and for you to view with them.


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June 22, 2015
by countryfun

Summer 2015 Begins

Another school year is behind us and the mixed-up summer schedule begins. Summer 2015 got off to a busy start.

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We’ll be checking out the progress on the new road and house to be built.
Also know the new playdough will gets lots of use as the old dried out was used until I tossed it out. The playdough recipe is the same one I made with my mom and sister to play with. I’ve tried many of the others out there, but still go back to this one that’s easy to make and lasts so long. (recipe posted on Arts & Crafts blog)

June 10, 2015
by countryfun

Catching Up

Some days a quick picture will get posted on Facebook and Google+, but I thought I’d pull together a few photos that are snipet of what normal days are around here just now.

It’s all about piling pillows, whether on the climbing gym, into the box or under forts have made. We’ve been calling them “nests” and I’ve been doing lots of talking about all the birds we are seeing outside making nests now too.

Outside it’s about the dirt pile, racing – foot or car, chalk drawing on the driveway, 4 Square, and older kids  pushing the youngest around (should say zooming!) in the cars.

It’s all about all ages playing together, learning together and having fun together.


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May 16, 2015
by countryfun

We Have a Mini-Hoop House!

I had hoped to involve the children in helping to construct the mini-greenhouse for the garden, but found it was better to get it made over the weekend myself. It was not a structure that little hands would have supported the construction of. Instead we’ll explore it together and use it together as we plant, tend and harvest through the winter.

I started with a garden area that would accommodate a 4′ x 6′ mini structure. This size will allow us to work from both sides 2′ in which works fine. That means I needed 2 – 4′ and 2 – 6′ pieces of cedar 1″x6″ to make the box frame.DSC06569

The frame was supported with corner bracing that left space for the 3/4″ pvc piping to fit behind.DSC06571  DSC06572

There are to be 4 hoops spaced 2′ apart with the ends held in place with the bracing that left the 2 middle hoops to be held in with clamps. DSC06573

It was easiest to get everything that needed nails or screws together in the garage, carry the finished frame out to the garden, place and fill with soil before placing the hoops. DSC06574

Next it was time to cover the ends with clear 6mil plastic. I used clear plastic we had on hand, although special garden plastic is suppose to last more years. The end plastic was stapled to the frame and then taped up and over the end hoops.

I then cut a length of plastic to cover the whole mini-hoop house. This was laid out and a 6′ piece of strapping was used as the ridge pole laying it over the plastic covered hoops. I screwed through the strapping and plastic into the hoops. This will not only help hold down the plastic, but ties the hoops together and adds stability to the structure. The hope is it will also help hold up to the snow we get.

I cut the plastic oversized, so I could attach 2″x3″x6′ board along each side. I rolled the plastic around the boards that were laid tight to the frame and stapled the plastic in place. DSC06578 This will both hold the plastic down tight and allow for it to be easily rolled up the hoops to make working within the hoop house easier. It will also allow for keeping the hoop house open once summer weather gets hot. I’m also trying out black foam tubing for clips to hold the plastic tight. If this doesn’t work I’ll be hunting for something like chip bag clips.

I’m thinking we’ll plant the cucumbers in here to start the season. They are suppose to like the enclosed environment. They will also be done growing in time for a fall seeding of kale, swiss chard, lettuce, carrots, beets, spinach. All these crops should be able to handle the winter cold and provide a fresh harvest. Maybe we’ll also add a tomato plant or two when we do the cucumbers……..


April 28, 2015
by countryfun

Another Round of Planting

Today was a perfect day for planting another group of seeds to be started inside. We’ve charted the frost date for May and have counted back the weeks it takes the seeds planted inside to be ready for the outside garden. Working from our list, this week it’s time to plant the cantaloupe, watermelon, cuccumber, baby bell peppers, and 3 types of cabbage. We’ve already planted kale, brussels sprouts and 3 kinds of tomatoes, which have already sprouted. We’ve been thinning out the kale sprouts and enjoying as salad for our lunches. DSC06489

All you need is a container for water to wet down the potting soil before filling the containers. Small hands are perfect for mixing and filling.

DSC06497 DSC06498 DSC06499

Then we talked about what we expected the seeds to look like, as we eat these foods all the time and know their seeds. We noticed the seeds were dry, but looked like what we expected. Then we planted multiple seeds per section. One kind of seed was planted in each 6-pack.

The 6-packs were labeled using alphabet stickers, so we can know what they are when they sprout. A matching sticker was placed on the seed pack.  DSC06503DSC06504

Everything watering in well and placed on the bottom shelf of our new homemade grow light station. This was made using some of the money from the Let’s Go! 5-2-1-0 Opportunity Alliance grant we received this year. This is the first year we have really grown our own seedlings. The baby gate has been repurposed to protect the lower growing shelf from curious toddlers and cats as it’s located within our program space.


Now we’ll count down the days to germination for our newest plantings, watching and discussing what we see happening.

Once done it was outside to repair the row cover that the wind was blowing off.


We restaked the long sides. We also took time to check out the kale seedlings already planted under the cover and found it was warmer under the cover than outside. Also under the cover are carrots, swiss chard and beets directly seeded.



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