COUNTRY FUN

~ early education care ~ where our play supports our learning

November 4, 2015
by countryfun
Comments Off on It’s 60+ Out!

It’s 60+ Out!

We spend a good portion of our days outside, but when it’s November, blue skies and over 60 degrees, we are totally outside except for lunch and rest time.

Our outside play supports creativity, fine and gross motor skills, social interactions, math, science and language development.

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How Does It Work? from Country Fun Child Care on Vimeo.

300+ crows flying over head will definitely get a WOW! An unexpected lesson on migration, listening for “caws”, labeling parts of a bird compared to ourselves, new words, and lots of movement flapping our wings as we flew around the yard 22162728764_bab836e197_o

IMG_0615 from Country Fun Child Care on Vimeo.
Leaf play is daily occurrence around here in the Fall and some good exercise for the raker (me).

IMG_0641 from Country Fun Child Care on Vimeo.
First time using the walking toy outside here.

IMG_0638 from Country Fun Child Care on Vimeo.

October 7, 2015
by countryfun
Comments Off on My Continuing Education

My 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 (MELDS) 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 spend 6 hrs. with over 100 other professionals that through their work with young children understand the importance of quality child care. So much of my practice was reinforced through discussions, but a key point of reflection 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 developmental 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.

 

 

May 16, 2015
by countryfun
Comments Off on We Have a Mini-Hoop House!

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 10, 2015
by countryfun
Comments Off on Unexpected Lesson: Birds vs Ducks

Unexpected Lesson: Birds vs Ducks

We are always open to taking advantage of the unexpected events that happen around our space, especially in our outside environment. Today was no exception. I was checking out the birdfeeders, when I did a double take because I thought I saw 2 ducks out there eating seeds and corn. IMG_2125

Now each Spring a dip in the field next to us floods with the melting snow and ducks come in before heading to area lakes and ponds, but I’ve never seen them at the feeders. I think the unexpected multiple inches of wet snowfall left the field pond slushy and here was an alternative food source.

DSC06434I immediately let the children know we had special visitors at the feeders and they came quickly to the window. When I asked them who the visitors were they answered “Ducks.” I began asking questions to stretch the learning from this event. Questions like:

  • “Where did the ducks come from?”
  • “How did the ducks get here?”
  • “How many ducks do you see?”
  • “What is different about the ducks?”

Their answers lead to other questions like:

  • “Why can’t ducks sit in trees?”
  • “Why do you think the smaller duck is brown?”
  • “What do ducks and birds both have?”

Their answers were so thoughtful and leading to further learning.

Mallard Pair from Country Fun Child Care on Vimeo.

While watching the ducks until they left, I decided we needed to get the points from the conversation down, immediately thinking Venn Diagram. Two items with common and different parts we could compare and chart while keeping the conversation going.

DSC06435I asked if they wanted to make a science chart about what they know about birds and ducks. With a strong “Yes!” I got some paper and markers and we settled in as a group.

I explained this chart has 3 parts where we can write down about birds in one, ducks in another and what both have in the middle. I also told them this special science chart was called a Venn Diagram, because I think it’s important to expose them to mathematical and scientific terms when we can.

As you can see we filled in our chart quite nicely with all our observations about what is similar and different about Birds and Ducks ~DSC06438

I also had some help with the writing by my inquisitive 1 yr. old. Cap on so help welcome.

Now having the markers out lead to wanting to use them for drawing, so it was off to the art tables. I got out a variety of coloring tools and paper before I hung up our Birds vs Ducks Venn Diagram.DSC06439 DSC06441  DSC06440

Now this pair of ducks visited us multiple times over the day, so we had more conversations about them being a pair and that became “mommy and daddy duck”. At the end of the day we decided to see if we could see their footprints.

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* Update: 9am Friday and the ducks are back at the feeders. Will need to get some more seed out after they leave. Wonderr where conversations will lead today?

January 13, 2015
by countryfun
Comments Off on Snaps of Our Days

Snaps of Our Days

A good part of my day is spent observing. This means I am watching and noting what individual children are doing, what groups of children are doing, how the space is working for the activities of current interest, what are those current interests…..just to start. I have found that having visual documentation of what I am seeing helps greatly in this. Many of the photos and video taken are posted separately for more detail about the activity or project.

But every now and then I like to just provide you with some of the snaps I’ve taken throughout the last few weeks………………..

Snow play means angels and shovels for toddlers and preschoolers…

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Playing Doctor…….learning how the tools work….

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Building forts……..DSC06074  DSC06076

Building towers…….

DSC06018 DSC06024  DSC06020  or exploring balance …..DSC06035

a visit from a hawk (to the feeders we watch daily)…..DSC06014

art & math – shape collage …DSC06033

math & science – shape graphing…DSC06048

sound exploration…DSC06007

body parts movement game (helping to get it made, so we can play)…DSC06064

lot’s of kitchen time…using tools, tasting, set-up and clean-up ….DSC06070

Little People are still of major interest…

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Fixing the climbing gym is a close second…

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Learning to watch out for and include the littlest one who is now totally mobile….

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May 1, 2014
by countryfun
Comments Off on Peek into Our Morning

Peek into Our Morning

It’s raw and rainy, so that means a solid morning inside playing. Figured it was a good day to gather some photos and video of where the children are at. So much activity this morning headed off in different directions thought it was a good morning to share, so you can see first hand what happens here.

My morning started off gathering worms. It was easy with all the ones swimming on the driveway. We’ll be using them inside for some preschool exploration after lunch.

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The morning started with questions (as usual), but one today offered a chance to learn a little more about changes in matter. “Why are the roads all cracked?” Our winter freezes and thaws which means the hardtop roads crack. Explaining this with water freezing, moving the ground and roadbed up, then thawing and everything settles back.  To show how water takes up more space when frozen we put water in a yogurt cup to a mark, then into the freezer. We’ll check to see how much above the mark it is once frozen. Then we’ll let it thaw and check the level again. Still needing more we headed to the rice box. I spread rice over a sheet of paper I held tight. I had the children push up on the paper, which caused the rice to shift. Once stopped pushing the rice settled back with a slight split.

 

March 3, 2014
by countryfun
Comments Off on Self-Regulation in Young Children

Self-Regulation in Young Children

Self-Regulation is the ability to control our personal responses in and to a situation.  For some children this is a significant problem and negatively impacts their behaviors and interactions with both peers and adults. Healthy development of self-regulation skills contributes to children becoming independent learners, as well as preventing aggressive and anti-social behaviors.

With the large variety of ages I provide care for I find myself in lots of different discussions with parents about what we are observing, what is expected and what are possible areas of concern. I thought it might be useful to note some of the developmental markers I am looking out for and use in working with the children here whether it is for toy selection, space usage, specific lesson ideas, or discipline.  Some children seem to have personalities where they seem to have this self-regulation all in place. However, self-regulation is a skill set that we need to teach and then continually reinforce. Being consistent/constant in expectations, developing routines and modeling solutions to situations support children in developing self-regulation skills.

6 months –

  • child enjoys being touched
  • actively interested in their environment
  • self-consoles (cries have a reason)

9 months –

  • is playing with an object for multiple minutes
  • attends to an individual directly interacting with them

12 months –

  • interested in music and moves body to its rhythms
  • daily has a solid daytime nap and sleeps through the night

18 months –

  • enjoys messy play
  • shows a preference for certain toys

24 months –

  • plays with a purpose
  • entertains self for 5 minutes
  • free plays with coloring materials, play dough

3 years –

  • wants to do things independently
  • participates in group play and activities

5 years –

  • daily daytime naps are usually done now
  • attends to an activity without direct supervision for at least 10 minutes

Our newest program addition this winter has been daily yoga time. thI have also found the use of an old magic wand (clear tube with glitter and colored liquid) as our “quiet stick” a good tool for focusing attention with a natural timed element to it. We sit quietly watching the glitter settle from one end to the other (about 3 minutes). Was surprised the first time used this at how quickly it quieted everyone and how calm the children were afterwards.

A “calming jar” is a mediation tool to use when one feels stressed, upset or overwhelmed. Simple directive is to shake the jar, think of the glitter as everything floating around in your busy brain (head/mind). As the glitter settles image your brain slowing down, calming down.

There are many postings for “calming jars” pinned on Pinterest that provide easy directions to make at home. I like the plastic containers and they do not need to be large. If you do not want to super glue the cap on, I have used duck tape with really good results. I have also added larger glitter pieces and even tried with a small marble in one. 

A “calming jar” is a mediation tool to use when one feels stressed, upset or overwhelmed. Simple directive is to shake the jar, think of the glitter as everything floating around in your busy brain (head/mind). As the glitter settles image your brain slowing down, calming down.

Past post with a mediation link.

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