COUNTRY FUN

an early education learning space ~ where play equals learning

January 28, 2016
by countryfun
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No Snowpant Play

With warmer weather and a clear driveway my young group wants bikes, cars and chalk when we head out to play. That means “no snowpants play” and much easier movement for young ones. But I want them to also explore the snow. How to combine the two depends on how I can engage the current interests. Often with this group I just need to start doing something and they want to know what I’m doing and try it.

That worked today!24521279442_33ea1732a0_o

 

Making and throwing snowballs. Grab a handful of snow from the edge of the drive. Smush it together and throw as far as you can.

 

 

Making a mini fairy snowman. I made the body and started to collect natural elements to finish it off. Then the children wanted to help which meant adding more snow. Watched a young one add, have it fall, add again, then take it off, add again. Smiles and laughs throughout each step. I’m thinking interesting way to learn about how snow sticks together, weight affecting it, push and pull and some fine motor work.

fairy snowman 1/16/16 from Country Fun Child Care on Vimeo.

 

24334108230_b37600d0bf_o24521309252_9334138d10_oTopped it off bringing out the snow painting squirt bottles. Definitely frustrating for little hands, but they stick with it to see the snow change colors.

 

 

 

What happens when you use chalk in water?

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Why does ice and snow melt? How fast does it happen? Which disappears first?

All this between the bike and car play.

1/26/16 community helpers vehicle play from Country Fun Child Care on Vimeo.

January 28, 2016
by countryfun
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A Snowball Sensory Box

Sensory play is not only fun, but it’s an important learning experience for young children. Today I brought out one of my winter sensory boxes. I think of this one as the “snowball box” because it’s all white and contains mostly round objects. The ribbon lengths add some of the glitter found with new snow.

To take this experience further I added some different tubes to the table. This group enjoys putting items into containers. They like to stack building blocks. They like to count. Knowing this and providing materials to support their interests, as I expected, the play changed.

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To expand the learning I was able to direct the exploration into sizes and textures. We used different descriptive words starting from the concept of opposites. While exploring in this direction the children discovered that different sounds were occurring. They directed their learning at this point.

One simple sensory box =

  • cooperative play
  • fine motor
  • descriptive language
  • expressive language
  • self-esteem
  • math – shape, counting, volume
  • opposites/comparisons
  • sound
  • focus/attention span

One full morning of fun!

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As part of ongoing authentic assessment the videos here and additional ones taken will be used in planning future learning experiences and documented in ePortfolios connecting with the Maine Early Learning Developmental Standards (MELDS).

Here are 10 of the MELDS that were demonstrated this morning:

  1. Communicates math ideas verbally and non-verbally
  2. Recognizes the relationship between numbers and quantities
  3. Transitions from rote counting to 1:1 correspondence
  4. Matches similar shapes
  5. Explores three-dimensional and two-dimensional shapes in the environment
  6. Begins to speak audibly and, with prompting and support, express thoughts, feelings, and idea
  7. Chooses individual activities
  8. Develops increased capacity to share materials or caregiver/teacher’s attention
  9. Uses materials and equipment purposefully, safely and respectfully
  10. Explores objects and materials, and interacts with others in a variety of new settings

January 6, 2016
by countryfun
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Oh, Elmer’s Special Day!

We have our hands on books all day long here.

We also like retelling using our flannel board.

Then we have our interactive ebooks both borrowed and owned.

A favorite ebook that always loaded on the iPad is Elmer’s Special Day by Oceanhouse Media. (I have found Oceanhouse Media is a great first source for interactive book apps.).

With 2 children here today that love to paint it was no surprise child directed learning lead to a painting activity. This one came about after enjoying the interactive Elmer’s Special Day book app multiple times. Elmer’s Special Day allows for a variety of extension activities about color, being unique, and friendship just to start.

You can use one of the available patterns online (find some on my Elmer’s Pinterest board), but I just drew out the simple Elmer elephant shape to fit the larger paper we were using. With small paint pots of multiple colors and cotton swabs gathered, the children provided the fine motor and creative imagination needed for this activity.

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They asked for the elephants to be cut out to take home. Which I did as cutting skills are still about learning to work the scissors right now.

December 11, 2015
by countryfun
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A Clear Dust Collection Hose + Children = Learning

I’ve been teaching a long time and have a good file of teaching ideas to pull from, but I get excited by new ideas and approaches. For that reason I enjoy following the blogs and Facebook pages of others who work with children in many capacities. Play Counts has a clear tube that the children in her program use for exploring. I was able to add one to our space and have not been surprised by the usage. When children are allowed to explore their environment it’s exciting to observe where they go.
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November 13, 2015
by countryfun
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Quick Fish Chowder or Soup

The lunches here are planned to be enjoyed by the children while offering good nutrition. Throughout meal planning I do my best to provide multiple opportunities to explore new foods or old foods prepared in a new way. We eat family style and sometimes I need to make a meal thinking about my need for a comfort food. Dealing with a child shared cold this week, I knew I’d be wanting a favorite comfort food for a meal this week.

I believe in having a good supplied pantry, so I can pull together meals easily. It also means I do not need to plan the week out ahead, but can fit the meal to what is happening in the day, as well as take advantage of sales. I encourage families to really look at developing a food pantry to help with the food budget and overall nutrition.

Today’s lunch made good use of the pantry after finding the chowder mix at our local store was all haddock, on sale and just happens to be an all-time comfort food for me. Also know fish is not a steady part of many families evening meals, so good to offer here. Warning!!! This is not a traditional chowder, think creamy fish soup :)soup
Start with pantry supplies: chicken broth, evaporated milk, carrots, onions, potatoes, herbs

Purchased for meal: 1 lb chowder mix

Add from what’s on hand: red bell pepper, cauliflower
I sautèed  about 1 C onion, 4 med. carrots and 1 red bell pepper (all chopped) in olive oil and a bit of butter (about 1T of each). Once tender I added in 4 C broth, 1 C chopped cauliflower and 2 good size potatoes cut into 1/2″ cubes (child friendly size, as well as quicker cooking). Added in fresh herbs as they are still growing in the garden – today was thyme, oregano, parsley. Added a bay leaf. Brought this soup base to boil then simmered for 15 minutes. I then covered, took off heat and placed in refrig. while we headed out for a morning of play. Could have continued to make up, but being able to prep early morning and set aside to just finish for lunch makes it easier to pull good lunches together. This can also be done night before.

When ready for lunch I added in evaporated milk, dried seaweed and the fish (cut into 2″ chunks). Brought to low boil, lowered heat, covered and cooked 15 minutes until fish done.

All flavoring is done to taste and here that means low salt, no pepper and not much spicy heat.

This chowder is so adaptable and quick to make. Better yet is it reheats well.

Served with a slice of toasted homemade multi-grain bread and sliced fruit this lunch was well eaten by the children and I got to enjoy a comfort food at the end of a busy week.

November 11, 2015
by countryfun
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Supporting STEM with PVC Pipe

I love having a good variety of items available to build with within our space. Blocks offer incredible opportunities for learning.

DSC07099Today I brought our pvc pipe connector set inside to have available for indoor play during the winter. Of course, as soon as brought in, interested hands began to explore. For the youngest it was about taking in and out of the container. For the school-age it was about building a fort. (Interesting how inside and outside usage is different.)

DSC07101My challenge was to get the school-age to work through it not being about building the fort quickly, but to think/plan/try and solve. That means encouragement, guidance and keeping busy enough to not be able to place my hands on directly. Those clues or guidance were heard and the materials were organized/sorted to make easier to use.

DSC07102Then the first side was used to model the second.

 

 

 

 

DSC07103

Solved that one cross brace would not hold the fort up or the structure together.  Needed 2.

Then how to move into place?  DSC07104

 

 

After fell apart when tried to move alone, asked directly for help as realized 1 on each side working together would move it in one piece.

 

 

Covered DSC07105 and using.DSC07106 Shortly joined by others.

This pvc connector set was low cost, easy to make, and offers great learning opportunities only limited by imaginations. I used 1″ pipe for strength. If making a set like this I strongly suggest purchasing a ratcheting pvc pipe cutting tool (under$15).

November 9, 2015
by countryfun
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Books of Fall

There are so many fun books to read during the Fall season. Having a yard full of Maple trees we have an abundance of leaves on the ground awaiting children and their imaginations this time of year. I have a good mix of books about the different seasons and the changes that occur, but I made sure to have books about Fall leaves because every group has a connection to them. It doesn’t seem to matter the make-up of the group, all children enjoying playing in piles of leaves. Here are four that seem to get read each year:

The Little Yellow Leaf by Carin Berger

The story focuses on a single leaf that is not ready to leave the branch of its great oak tree. All the other leaves swirl down to the ground, apples grew musky, pumpkins heavy, and flocks of geese took wing, but yellow leaf holds on. Now it’s winter and yellow leaf is alone in the tree, until it sees a scarlet flash. Through agreement they let go together and soar off through the skies together.

Who would think that a story about Fall leaves would support working on friendship, being afraid of new things/the unknown?

The illustrations are different and can be a little hard for younger readers to connect with, but it’s important for children to be exposed to variety in both language style and visual images.

Extension Activities:

  1. Movement activity of chasing, swirling, soaring, dancing like the leaves.
  2. Nature watch – check out the trees around you for leaves that may still be in them. Rake up the fallen leaves and play in.

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Fall Leaves Fall! by Zoe HAll

When fall comes, two brothers enjoy their favorite time of year, by catching the falling leaves, stomping on them, kicking them, jumping in piles of them, and using them to make pictures.

Extension Activities:

  1. Get out and play in the leaves.
  2. Make pictures from different leaves.

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It’s Fall by Linda Glaser

A young boy describes what happens to animals, plants, and people in the autumn while he enjoys the leaves.

This book opens up discussions about more than just the changes to the leaves. Getting the bird feeders ready for our winter friends and watching the Canadian geese and crows fly in large groups overhead we can explore migration and hibernation.

Love the large cut-paper illustrations of this book. They have a strong realistic appearance.

Extension Activities:

  1. Great listing of activities to pull ideas from at end of book.
  2. Rake a pile of leaves to hide in and pop out of. Talk about what the leaves in the pile smell like, feel like and sound like.

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We enjoy finger plays and rhyming songs. An old-time favorite is ~ We’re Going on a Bear Hunt. Having a book that connects by following the same pattern opens up different experiences.

We’re Going on a Leaf Hunt by Steve Metzger

Three friends are going on a hunt for leaves. They go over a mountain and through a forest to collect leaves of all kinds and colors. Then through a waterfall and across a lake. Something black and white sends them quickly home.

Extension Activities:

  1. Go on your own leaf hunt. Count your leaves. Compare them. Make leaf rubbings.
  2. Make leaf pictures. Preserve your leaves.
  3. Add actions and then act out the story.

 

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