an early education learning space ~ where play equals learning

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?


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!


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 19, 2014
by countryfun
Comments Off on December: Always an Interesting Time of Year

December: Always an Interesting Time of Year

Through all my years working with children, I have always found December to be an interesting month. It used to be we did Christmas stuff the whole month. With changes in society and respecting the traditions of each family, I believe I best support the children in my care now by keeping things simple and as un-holiday as possible. Keeping them grounded means healthier and happier children (and families). Here are an example of the activities we have been doing here and will continue through next week.

Special challenges this year have been:

  • 1) all the rainy/gray days and finding ways to get more movement into our space that already has a lot naturally in it.
  • 2) no real interest in any crafty projects so, I decided to focus on numbers which December just seems a really good fit for.

Let’s start with our version of a countdown (advent) calendar. Making use of some donated tubes, colorful pompom and dots. Lining up on the windows keeps them visible, adds color and we can talk about them often, not just when counting out for the day.



Did you notice anything else about our count down tubes?

We have a pattern going with the dots. So we have 1 to 1 correspondence, number order, number symbol, a bit of addition and pattern – lots of math concepts being supported in this simple activity. I also like that it works with a traditional activity many of the children have in their families, but does not exclude anyone.

The idea of “over time” will also be explored with our use of the picture book: Sadie and the Snowman by Allen Morgan. In the story Sadie builds a snowman with the first snow and rebuilds it over the winter months. We are doing the same. We built a snowman with our first good snow and have been watching it and the changes that the weather has brought. Lots of rain has meant melting. (Every day the children check and we’ll be posting images on our Facebook page as updates on the changes.)DSC05901We’ll save a bit before it’s completely gone to use in another snowman this season. The science concepts we are learning around changes to matter and seasons will be added to our work on the concept of time. Also thinking we’ll be experts at retelling Sadie and the Snowman by the end of winter:) (flannel board in the future)

So all the rain that’s melting our snowman is also keeping us inside. Now we are lucky to have a very active inside space, but not getting outside means even more need for focused/organized active play. Here a look at a few activities we’ve done these past weeks.

A little snowball blowing with the added benefit of working mouth/facial muscles.

Blow that Snowball from Country Fun Child Care on Vimeo.

A little more painter’s tape and now we have a balancing activity……..or maybe just a space to run within, as this group is definitely not afraid of alligators:)

Balancing turns into Run from Country Fun Child Care on Vimeo.

The other big change at this time of year is how it’s darker earlier. That means it’s easier to make a part of our space darker which works wonderful for light box play. Light box play is a great place for mixed ages to cooperate in their play – learning from each other, it’s low cost and exploration materials are only as limited as the children’s and yours imaginations.


As anyone who follows here knows, I love homemade materials and adapt many of the resources shared online by other teachers. Klever Kiddos made these winter number puzzles available for free download on TpT.  All I had to do was download, print off, laminate, cut up and we were ready to add to the activity drawers. Placing a colored dot on the pieces for each puzzle was a simple adaption. Now I can store them all together and the children have to sort them out before making their puzzles.number puzzle

Photos are great but video is even better.

This FREE number activity from My Fabulous Class went through more adaption for use with my preschoolers. I kept the original stockings together, traced to make a blank stocking, ran that off on green paper, added the written number words and finger/hand images representing each number. This activity took a little longer to pull together, but having the children help with the images meant more opportunity to work with numbers. Also learned a bit about photo editing.DSC05820 Many ways to use…. here was reverse order than matching………..

DSC05830 DSC05831

In use:

December 12, 2014
by countryfun
Comments Off on Sticky Snow Lessons

Sticky Snow Lessons

After days of rain and grey skies we are out and playing in the snow that fell overnight night. A perfect snow for footprints and snowmen.


After a quick stomp around, we headed for the garden. I needed to compost the apple peelings and cores from the homemade apple sauce.

The deer have been into the garden to enjoy the green tops left for them of broccoli and brussels sprout, so the children and I spread the apple peelings around in that area. DSC05849

Then we followed some of the deer tracks out into the surrounding field. The field is criss-crossed with tracks this morning. DSC05851

On walking back through the garden we spotted the kale bed. After finding more tracks, the children quickly commented “that the deer had eaten all the kale”. However, in digging around in the snow we found 2 kale plants that were buried. DSC05854 We uncovered the kale and harvest just enough to add to today’s lunchtime salad. We decided to leave the rest for the deer to enjoy.DSC05855

Then it was time to build a snowman. This snowman was built from packed snow. The snow was sticky, but not rolling well. We settled on peanuts for the eyes, corn cob for the nose and spray painted the mouth. DSC05857  Painting snow is always a hit.DSC05861 DSC05862

January 30, 2014
by countryfun
Comments Off on Snowball Fight!!!

Snowball Fight!!!

The weather has remained cold and we’ve managed to stay pretty activity inside, but it’s getting stale. How to mix it up? Everything has been snowmen around here for preschool, so I thought maybe an inside snowball fight might be fun.

In our block set I have a good collection of rolled odd socks that fit really nicely in small hands and wouldn’t hurt a bit if hit by. Snowballs figured out. Now how to surprise the kids, because the unusual was a big part of this.

I quietly made my way to the socks while the children were engaged in building a race track and garage for the cars. Got “C” to come help me and I explained what I wanted to do. Big smile! Knew I was on the right track.

We quietly worked our way to the other group and I let the “snowballs” fly. One of those times would have loved having a camera in place – the surprised faces were priceless. When I let the second round go and ran off they caught on and the snowball fight was on.

Finally found time to grab a camera~

Snowball Fight!!!! from Country Fun Child Care on Vimeo.

Half hour snowball fight a perfect mix up for another cold day.


January 21, 2014
by countryfun
Comments Off on Wintery Play

Wintery Play

Our morning started with some play on the snowbanks. With no sliding hills have to get creative.

I have 4 pairs of children’s snowshoes that can be used at anytime there is snow on the ground. There have been years when they were used a lot because the children were on the older side and could go off around the yard and surrounding year without me in direct attendance.

The young group I have now have not used them, so having a nice day with new snow and only 3 children it was a perfect time to expose them to the snowshoes and see where the interest went…….

It went farther than I expected.

Once they got comfortable with what I call “wide walking”, not giant stepping around the yard they wanted to explore farther afield. They waited patiently while I got my snowshoes out and on. Then off we headed……..

I ended up hiking the last half of the walk with a 3 yr old on my shoulders (snowshoes and all), but I was so pleased with the willingness of the boys to stay with it once started out.

I know the snowshoes will be used again this winter.

January 10, 2014
by countryfun
Comments Off on Have You Ever Wondered About Snowmen at Night?

Have You Ever Wondered About Snowmen at Night?

In exposing children to books so that their world expands it is important as part of that to help them understand the parts of a book.  Title pages, author, illustrator, beginning, middle and ending are all easy to develop an understanding of. In many of the picture books used for infants through preschool there are no “dust jackets”, especially with an introduction (found on the inside lap – I always thought of as the fly) or opening question to get you excited about what you will find once you start reading. So when I find one you can be sure I use it.

Our library copy of Snowmen at Night by Caralyn Buehner had a great one and it was nice to be able to start this reading and extension project off from there.

“Have you ever wondered about the secret life of a snowman? Maybe one morning his grin is a little crooked, or his tree-branch arms have drooped, and you’ve thought…. what do snowmen do at night?”

How much more fun to peak the interest in a story, than to just start right in reading? Some interesting answers to this opening.

As a follow up activity we took black paper – a little different for a snowman picture – and some unusual painting tools to make a snowy night time background for our snowman.

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