COUNTRY FUN

an early education learning space ~ where play equals learning

September 8, 2016
by countryfun
Comments Off on A Healthly Reminder

A Healthly Reminder

As we head into a season that seems to see more illness here’s a reminder:

original source:http://w2.cocokids.org/_cs/downloadables/cc-healthnutrition-keepmehome.pdf

August 10, 2016
by countryfun
Comments Off on Zucchini Jam?

Zucchini Jam?

Our zucchini seedlings germinated really well this year and I find it hard to throw seedlings on the compost pile. I gave some away to families to plant and the rest ended up in our garden. With the weather this year the zucchini plants are really producing. We’re baking, dehydrating, freezing and eating both raw and cooked. There is also only so much zucchini you can give away, so…… what else can we do besides the compost pile? Have fun with a zucchini recipe online search :)

I found a couple of interesting ideas and settled on Zucchini Jam. After watching YouTube videos and comparing recipes I combined with my other jam recipes and settled on the following:

  • 6 cups shredded zucchini – I left on peel, seeded completely and shredded with multiple grating plates to get a variety of sizes/textures.
  • 5 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup bottled lemon juice – I always have this on hand vs fresh lemon
  • 1 – 20 oz can crushed pineapple (with natural juice) – do not drain
  • 6 oz regular jello, any flavor works – I tried strawberry first as I know it’s liked by everyone here. Does have food dye for those with allergies.

Placed everything, but jello, in a saucepan that would hold ingredients with an extra 4 inches to cover splatters as it boils. Boil for 20 minutes. Stir almost constantly to prevent sticking and browning. Also cuts down foaming. Zucchini goes transparent, but maintains texture.

While cooking zucchini mixture get canning jars and lids ready. (Loving my electric water bath canner. Heats quicker and maintains temperature really well. Also frees up much needed stove top space.)

After 20 minutes remove zucchini mixture from heat source and add in jello. Stir it in really well and get it into hot jars. (I used a mix of jelly jars that I had on hand.) Process in water bath for 5 minutes.

jam

Always seem to have a bit left over whenever I make jams, relishes, and pickles so we enjoyed this new jam this morning on homemade whole wheat toast. Texture was more like a marmalade and not too sweet. Will definitely make more of this zucchini jam. It was super easy, reasonable cost and pretty healthy for a jam – zucchini and pineapple.

July 9, 2016
by countryfun
Comments Off on Can We Paint?

Can We Paint?

Part of the fun of having my school-age children for the full day in the summer is their desire for doing art projects. The challenge for me is to continue to find ways to teach techniques, expanding learning while considering current interests.

This activity met the requirements of wanting to paint and wanting something finished to take home. I wanted to reinforce the importance of not over painting until it was a mud color/ or knowing when to stop. We have been having lots of play involving rainbow colors and patterns. For storytime I’ve been reading Eric Carle books. Putting this all together and pulling from my Pinterest boards I pulled together the materials for spinning chameleons. I was inspired by a colorful chameleons project on Tippytoe Crafts.

2016_06_27_img_0231_28010489992_oWe started with finding a coloring page that provided the size and position the children wanted for their chameleons.

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I traced the page from Hedgie’s Desk and made a stencil for our spinner cut-out while the children got started painting paper plates using tempera paints.

2016_06_27_img_0230_27497934993_o   2016_06_27_img_0233_27497880133_o

I couldn’t waste all the tempera paint spread over the paint tray, so I showed them how to do a print by placing paper down on the tray. I them went for a lesson on symmetry by folding that paper in half, pressing and opening. 2016_06_27_img_0240_27832351880_oDid this twice rotating 180 degrees between each print/fold and press. We’ll use this texture paper later for another project.  

Once the back plate was painted the children chose to switch to watercolor for the top plate. 2016_06_27_img_0234_28035291981_oThey all went with blue for a sky look. Some will add a construction paper branch for the chameleon to be climbing along.  2016_06_27_img_0238_27498158304_o2016_06_27_img_0239_28078934946_o 2016_06_27_img_0241_28010318802_o

I loved how they used every paint brush from the brush box. :)    2016_06_27_img_0237_27832412740_o

To finish we traced the chameleon shape onto the top plate, cut it out (remember to place an eye) and glued the branch into place. We used a colored googly eye. Notice the branch helped with providing a tail for our chameleon. Last was push the brad through and we had our finished spinning chameleon.

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The children enjoyed the changing chameleon that occurred as the top plate was spun.

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(For those wondering about the punched holes. We recycled some left-over plates from a prior project. The holes didn’t affect this project.)

 

June 28, 2016
by countryfun
Comments Off on Insect Safety Tips

Insect Safety Tips

Passing along this fact and tip sheet from PHILADELPHIA INSURANCE & ASSURE CHILD CARE’s monthly information sheet for child care programs they insure. With all the outside time the children get here and at home thought the resources here were good to pass along.

INSECT SAFETY

Every year, anaphylaxis (or severe allergic reaction) to insect bites or stings cause over 40 deaths, according to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.  Some insects carry pathogens that can cause serious diseases, such as West Nile Virus, Lyme Disease, Dengue Fever, and the plague.  And, while the vast majority of insect bites and stings will not cause anaphylaxis or serious disease, they can commonly result in tissue swelling, itching, dermatitis, pain/burning, infections, lesions, or dermatitis.  Your best defense is to know the facts and take appropriate action.

Insect Safety Tips:

1)     Be age appropriate – The Food and Drug Administration recommends to not use DEET on children under 2 months and not to use picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus for children under 3 years. The Mayo Clinic and the American Academy of Pediatrics has similar recommendations. 

Fact: The most common insect repellant ingredients are DEET, Picaridin (KBR 3023) and oil of lemon eucalyptus

http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/EmergencyPreparedness/ucm085277.htm

https://www.healthychildren.org/English/safety-prevention/at-play/Pages/Insect-Repellents.aspx

2)     Ask about allergies – Your application and interview process with a child’s parent/guardian should include questions about allergies, and especially any allergies that can cause anaphylaxis.  If a child is at risk, know their triggers and be prepared with a dose of epinephrine (adrenaline), if agreed to and supplied by the parent or guardian.http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/anaphylaxis/basics/tests-diagnosis/con-20014324

3)     Know the symptoms – A child with a severe allergic reaction to a bite or sting may have the following symptoms: difficulty breathing, dizziness, nausea, large skin areas of itching or hives, excessive sweating, swelling of their tongue or throat, loss of consciousness.  http://www.webmd.com/allergies/guide/anaphylaxis

4)     Treat anaphylaxis immediately: If you believe a child is having an anaphylactic reaction, call 911 and take whatever steps you have pre-planned with their parent/guardian. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/anaphylaxis/basics/treatment/con-20014324

5)     Avoid insect habitats – Ticks commonly live in overgrown grassy and bushy areas. Avoid these areas (including your pets) and cut back vegetation around your home.

Fact: Tick bites account for up to 30,000 cases of Lyme Disease in the U.S. each year

         Remove standing water around your home where mosquitos can breed. 

Fact: In general, mosquitos will bite anytime. Mosquito bites have caused over 30,000 people in the U.S. to become ill with the West Nile virus since 1999. Those carrying the West Nile Virus bite mainly from dusk through to dawn.

         Watch for bees and wasp/hornets nests and keep children safely away.

http://www.safe-wise.com/downloads/lymefac.pdf

http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/mosquito-bites/basics/prevention/con-20032350

6)     Avoid fragrant soaps – Highly aromatic soaps and perfumes can attract unwanted insects.  http://www.rd.com/health/wellness/6-tips-for-avoiding-insect-bites-stings/

mosquito_bites_relieve_naturally_n7)     Use first aid – For insect bites and stings that don’t involve anaphylaxis, take appropriate first aid, based on the type of bite or sting. 

http://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/wound-care-10/bugbites?page=1

http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/docs/2010-117/

June 27, 2016
by countryfun
Comments Off on What will children need to succeed in the future?

What will children need to succeed in the future?

What do we feel students would need to succeed in the world of the future?

This interesting question was raised at training I attended for Adult Educators. Those present acknowledged that the only constant in education at this time and for the future is change.

On the way home I got thinking about this question in regards to the children, your children, that I work with. What did I see as their needs to succeed in the future? Also what do you as parents feel they will need to succeed? Then the next question is how do we work to meet these needs.

I believe all children will need the basics of education, but even more they will need the ability to communicate, an imagination, a willingness to explore, and a sense of self.

  • I do not think of communication as only verbal. There are many ways that we communicate  (written, sign, artistic, listening) and we need to be open to encouraging all areas, but especially the mode that best fits the ability of the child.
  • DSC07099I believe that without an imagination a child will struggle to learn. An imagination allows a child to think out of the box, problem solve, and be independent.
  • A willingness to explore to me means they are not afraid of making mistakes or failing at new things. They will ask questions, not necessarily excepting what just is or has been. There will be a flexibility to how they work and handle events that occur.
  • A sense of self is just that. They will understand their individual skills or strengths. They will accept their weaknesses and in doing so will find ways to work around them. They will develop that self confidence that will allow them to challenge themselves.

I am very interested in what you see them needing in the future that awaits them. This world  is changing so quickly, we cannot even imagine what the jobs of their future will be.

June 22, 2016
by countryfun
Comments Off on Control in Picking Up

Control in Picking Up

What is control? What is the value of having said “control”?

I originally posted on this in 2011, but find it’s a good topic to repost on. When working with young children I think it’s always good practice to reflect on what we expect and the why. That’s easier to do on planning activities, but what about “clean-up”.

Reflecting on what could I have done differently in planning activities for the day I think about the interactions between the children and myself, what materials were being used, time spent on activities, questions asked, expanded learning opportunities, and where it all fits with development. I questioned if they would have benefited by bringing in other materials? Maybe more controlled movement activities? More quiet play?…. Where I believe that children learn best through their own directed play, did I honored what they were requesting?

These questions have been my guide for years. However, one night as I’m thinking things through while picking up the play space I started thinking down another avenue. Toys were scattered around everywhere. In picking up I caught myself reorganizing even what they had picked up before leaving. I stopped myself.

Why was I reorganizing these toys?

They were in baskets and off the floor, what value was there to being in baskets sorted into like items? What was important here – picked up as I asked or in the “right” basket as I defined “right”?

I want the children here to develop responsibility on all levels and part of that is taking care of the toys and materials used during our days. I provide ways and places for this organization to occur that I think make sense, are easy to use and kid friendly. Do I also need it organized like I would? The answer is no.

What I realized then and continue to believe is that it’s important that they picked up, but they do not care that they are mixed together. So who is it that cares if the musical instruments are in with the kitchen tools? I realized I don’t. All those times I reorganized those baskets – no more. The toys will be played with tomorrow, mixed together in a totally different way by happy involved children. That is what is important to me.

I think this response gives control where it needs to be. I want a clean, safe space with children taking responsibility. They will follow through on that – just picking up and placing in the closest basket, because more isn’t important to them at this developmental stage.

These are the types of questions we need to ask ourselves when interacting with young children as teachers and parents. What is the purpose of our requests of them – pick up, wear certain clothes, follow rules, etc.? Our answers will all be different. Through raising my own children and over 28 years in child care I have often said “pick your battles”. Children need to have opportunities to “control” their environment and personal choices. How can I offer these opportunities?

No more sorting of the general toy baskets for me, but playdough will not be allowed in the table drawers. It does need to be put away in it’s lidded containers. :)

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