Monday, September 22, 2014

Fall and School have Started

Today was our first day of school and it is also the first day of fall. 
We enjoyed a couple of books to celebrate the day.
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When the Leaf Blew In by Steve Metzger is a great story with many animals.  When I have a large group of multi-age children telling a story about animals keeps them involved longer.
I printed off pictures of all the animals in the story and before reading the book I handed them out to the children (not everyone got one but it still worked).  As I read the story and introduced the next animal, the child with that animal would bring it up and put it on the board. 
The pictures give a glue as to the next animal and as we waited for the little one to bring their animal picture up we would guess the next animal and make its sound. 

At the art table I used the book “Leaf Jumper” by Carole Gerber as inspiration for making leaf prints.
        book page
The book has images of several different leaves.  They are colourful and detailed.  So I decided to make prints for some of the trees that grow around here.
                  There was maple, oak, birch and willow.
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The children used paint rollers to cover the image with paint. 
Then turning it over on to paper and pressing it flat.
Lifting the styrofoam image they found a print of their leaf on their paper.
Their art looked similar to the book, leaves floating around in the blue sky.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Ready to Go

The strike is over and school will be in session this coming Monday.
I’ve done a few changes again this year.  As you enter the room it
looks the same except I’ve changed the snack table from the round
one to a long rectangle.
Next to it is still a table for play trays but much smaller one.  Also
beside it is a shelf with more toddler appropriate toys.
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And that leads to the opposite corner which is still our art area but
modified.  It has a smaller table and I took away the big, bulky shelf
against the wall.  I added a different shelf to hold supplies and work
as an area divider.
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The new shelf holds all our paper including for the easel which is to the
left of this shelf.
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A smaller shelf sits between the art table and the play tray table.  I like
that it is shorter so the space feels more open and not hidden away.  It
holds a lot of collage materials that I’ve stored in plastic see thru bottles. 
They all have lids so toddlers and crawlers can still explore but not spill
or put in their mouths.
The next space is our imaginative space with lots of loose parts.  You
can also see the corner of the overhead projector at the end of the shelf. 
I missed not having it available all the time last year.  Toddlers love it. 
On one of the shelves are more of those plastic, see thru bottles with
items for the projector.
The changes in the block/car and truck area is not in the set up but
what is available.
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The blocks are more prominent with added material to enhance the play,
like see thru glass blocks, large spools, etc.  Also I removed over half of
the plastic cars and trucks that we have and included more wooden toys.
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Right beside it is a big open space with more building materials.
In the far corner is the house and dress up area with a small table for play
dough just on the outside of the area.  Close and can be moved into the
area to be used for food.
Situated in the same spot as last year is our story area.  It also includes
toys for babies to play on the carpet.
In the centre of the room is our round table which will be used for
provocations, cooking, puzzles and dramatic play.
Between the round table and the story area is a short shelf holding puzzles.
That takes us back to the entrance.  I’m excited to see how it all works
once the families are into play next week.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Keeping Busy

This week our children and families should be back at school but unfortunately our teachers are out on the picket line.  Our government and teachers haven’t been able to negotiate a contract so school is on hold till it can happen.

But I’ve been keeping busy with a few projects.
                                       Snap Blocks
A fellow StrongStart facilitator, Pamela, posted this link on her Facebook page saying that she wanted these.  I thought we could make them ourselves.
So I did a bit of comparative shopping and found the best price, locally, for snaps at Fabricland.  I had extra blocks at school to use which meant we were ready to create.
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Pamela and I got together, drilled holes (love using electric tools) and screwed on
                                   the snap pieces.
                                        So easy.
When I was writing this post I googled Snap Blocks and found a site that made their own too, I Can Teach My Child.  I like that she attached snaps to a big piece of wood for a foundation.  I think it’s a great idea and will plan to make one too.
      Can’t wait to be back at school so the children can try them.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Gnome Homes in Nanaimo

In June I learned about a man in Nanaimo, BC (just down island from me) that creates Gnome doors.  His website Believe & Magic Happens tells the story of how gnomes migrated from Europe to Canada to Vancouver Island.  It’s a great story and he includes descriptions of gnomes and how they live.
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We found some of his homes at two parks in Nanaimo.   The first park is Morrell Nature Sanctuary.  The homes are easy to find on an easy loop trail.  There is a map by the parking lot.

Here are a few of Charlie’s beautiful decorated homes.
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The second park is Neck Point Park.  An inviting park right on the water.  The doors weren’t as easy to find because there is no identification at the park that they are even there. 
I found a blog that helped us find our way.  Follow their directions and
you’ll find them. 
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Most of them are very obvious on the wide path.  We passed another family searching and it was delightful to watch two little girls run tree to tree hoping to find another.
                            Happy home hunting.