COUNTRY FUN

an early education learning space ~ where play equals learning

June 7, 2016
by countryfun
Comments Off on Anyone Want to Make a Mess?

Anyone Want to Make a Mess?

All I have to do is ask if “anyone wants to make a mess?” and my young group comes running.

2016_06_07_IMG_0171The seed boxes for our mixed lettuce and kale germinated so well that we have a lot of leggy seedlings. Not the greatest for planting out directly into the garden, so we needed to thin them out and repot in 6 packs. (For “we” I mean “me” for the actual repotting. These seedlings are needed for food this summer and fall. Little hands love to help, but are not always gentle.)

2016_06_07_IMG_0172Thinning lettuce is a perfectly messy inside activity for a rainy day. (Kale is more pull up and replant, so no real mess.) Doing this inside means my young learners can get their hands into the dirt for a different purpose, put magnifying tools to work, ask lots of questions, and explore a plant’s structure (Roots on a lettuce seedling are many and easy to explore.),2016_06_07_IMG_0175 all while coming and going throughout their morning play.

Seedlings into the 6-packs and ready to head back under the grow lights. We’ll be monitoring to see how they do. A good bit of counting: 1 tray, 6 packs in 1 tray with 1 pack left over, 1 seedling per cell. 7 x 6 means we have a lot to count. 42 seedlings repotted.

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Then it was time to pick up our mess and get ready for lunch.

It also means we have fresh mini/micro greens for our lunch salad after pinching off the roots, rinsing and spinning dry. Spinning vegetables dry is always fun, great muscle work and allows for natural exploration of centrifugal force. 2016_06_07_IMG_0176(The roots were added to the compost pail.)

May 16, 2016
by countryfun
Comments Off on It’s Rhubarb Time!

It’s Rhubarb Time!

We’re back in the garden! Harvesting from the rhubarb bed has started. That means lots of kitchen time with the children here. We’re using some of our favorite recipes which you can find in postings on Countryfun is Cooking. Just search “rhubarb”.

This morning we made the Rhubarb Muffins to have for our afternoon snack.  A quick, easy and tasty recipe that also freezes well.

I enjoy being in the kitchen with the children. So many learning opportunities and there is usually something unexpected. Let’s start with Reading – idea of written directions in a recipe, names on ingredient containers, alphabet identification

Team work – gathering of materials, positioning to watch and help, working with peers and adult

Language – ingredients, tools, techniques, questions raised and answers provided

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Math, science and social studies –  measuring ingredients and counting. We also compare measuring tools and talk fractions. Smell for vinegar and vanilla. Taste brown sugar.

Where do eggs come from? Love getting the store as an answer:) More discussion on eggs coming from chickens with the farmer bringing to the store. Even better answer of “Ducks!”

More science as oil and milk blend. Then brown sugar dissolving in liquid. Flour going from dry to wet as we mix ingredients together and finally the baking. More math when we set oven temp and time the baking.

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Did you notice we used 3 different sized spoons in today’s baking? One of the children did. Thankfully he commented on the difference size handles, so I could take advantage of the observation for more learning. So of course we had a closer comparison of the 3 spoons for bowl size, handle length and a discussion on why they worked better for the reasons used for today. Largest for mixing. Middle for scooping dough for muffins. Smallest for scraping dough off scooping spoon.

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Last counting for this morning equaled 24. The recipe made 2 dozen muffins loaded with rhubarb – one very healthy and underused early spring vegetable.

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March 28, 2016
by countryfun
Comments Off on Milk to Plastic?

Milk to Plastic?

Sometimes you see something in your resources and you just have to try it. We had a lot of building happening here this morning along with a observation of a pair of Mallard ducks that visited our bird feeders. I thought I could bring in a little science experiment. If it worked we could use it for building/modeling with. If not then it’s a different type of learning.

This experiment came from How Wee Learn. It about the process of turning milk to plastic. She has been very successful in doing this within her K class.

I try not to use food as part of our play, but I also hate to waste food. I have some milk that is beyond date and will use most of it for baking, but thought could use the remainder for this experiment. Where I use vinegar as a cleaner I always have that on hand. Small group this morning so perfect time to pull in a science experiment.

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As gathered supplies we expanded language, worked on following directions. We smelled the milk and vinegar – good sensory! Measured out milk and into microwave. As numbers got low enough we watched and counted down. Measured again for the vinegar. Compare measuring tools and counting each TBLSP. Then it was taking turns as we used a fork to mix.

Now the observation of change in matter/ chemical reaction between the vinegar and milk. I did not explain why this happened because this young group really wouldn’t understand about milk protein. We just noticed solid and liquid.

We discussed how to get the water out and decided needed paper towels. We used our muscle power to push down until no new wet spots occurred. Then we explored our “Plastic from Milk”.

Ours was a lot of crumbs. It didn’t stick together really well, so we used for sensory and descriptive words – soft, rubbery, squishy, cold…..

We thought about why maybe we didn’t get a ball of plastic? Our milk was skim milk without much fat. We think the fat is what makes the milk balls that squishes together for the plastic ball. We’ll try whole milk or cream next time and test that thought out.

Sometimes it’s good to have an experiment not work as expected. It provides that opportunity to test your thoughts, ideas, make changes and try again. Learning from failure is as important as from success.

January 28, 2016
by countryfun
Comments Off on No Snowpant Play

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
Comments Off on A Snowball Sensory Box

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

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

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 11, 2015
by countryfun
Comments Off on Supporting STEM with PVC Pipe

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.

 

 

 

 

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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).

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