Wednesday, May 22, 2013
My buddies are usually pretty good about eating healthy. As a general rule, I don't have to work too hard to get them to eat good food. I like serving fruit and vegetables as often as possible because this tends to be the food group lacking in many children's diets. I stay away from too many cracker type snacks because I know that these are often over-served.
When it's a challenge to get my buddies to eat their veggies, I have a couple of tricks up my sleeve. One of the common tricks is to dress up the veggies to make them visually appealing. Making smiling faces is pretty easy to do. For these smiling faces, I used corn, snap peas, broccoli and then some mozza cheese cut to make a nose and hair. It's kind of fun and less likely to be rejected based on looks alone.
The lesser known trick is to serve vegetables FROZEN, right from the bag. Frozen vegetables don't really taste like anything but frozen. The freezing dulls the taste and it's also a novelty to eat them this way. Parents are always surprised when I tell them that their children are eating veggies that they won't eat at home. Corn is especially sweet and is a good one to start with for especially picky eaters. Peas and/or carrots would be my next choice for frozen veggies. As they get used to eating the veggies frozen they will be more likely to try fresh or cooked versions. Happy healthy eating!
Tuesday, May 14, 2013
My buddies were due for updated play area and I began with creating a new art area. My buddies and I spend a great deal of time outdoors and I try to create spaces for all types of play. Art is a favourite activity and it deserves a special place dedicated to it.
Last year, a piece of canvas hanging on my fence gave my buddies ample opportunity to try different art experiences. This year, in place of the canvas, I have hung a heavy plastic banner (the printed side is against the fence.) I am sure a plastic tarp or heavy shower curtain would also work well for this. The bonus is that this can be easily washed clean as often as needed.
I had my husband frame the area off with landscaping ties and I put down bark mulch so that it doesn't become a mud pit. (I would LOVE to have a little deck space there someday.) I placed my art table in the corner and used a little tikes fence along one side and placed the play kitchen against the other making the corner a more distinct space from the rest of the yard. I used bamboo poles to stabilize the plastic fence. I have planted scarlet runner beans along side this area and hope to cover the poles with vines.
Until the vines grow and blossom, to add colour, I attached hooks to the fence and hung plastic pails above the plastic banner.
To inspire my buddies to try printing letters and numbers,
I attached two all weather posters of the alphabet and numbers to the left of the banner.
A water jug and bowl sit in the corner for convenient washing of paint brushes or splatters.
I think I'm going to need a lot more paint this summer!
Saturday, May 11, 2013
Here's an easy update to the classic handprint tile craft. I made these with my buddies. All we needed was tile, acrylic paint and permanent markers. I helped my buddies stamp their hand onto the tile. You'll have to help young children keep a steady hand to keep the paint from smearing. Along the outside edge of the tile I used permanent marker to print "This is the hand that you used to hold when I was only _ years old." I also added the date to the tile.
Typically these tiles have been made with special paint that would get baked on to unglazed tile. This is supposed to make them heat proof so that the tiles can be used to set hot pots on. I've never seen a parent ever use their child's handprint tile for anything other than a displayed keepsake so I feel pretty safe using regular acrylic craft paint. I did bake the tiles at 200 F for about 20 mins just to set the permanent marker. I didn't put a top coat on these but in the past I have added a spray on clear coat for protection.
A super easy gift that moms will cherish!
Monday, May 6, 2013
My buddies, like many children, adore dandelions. How fortunate it has been that our city has banned the use of herbicides, allowing these bright yellow blossoms to grow with wild abandon in parks, along city pathways and in all but the most well manicured lawns. Since spring has sprung we have taken note of all the beautiful flowers growing in our flower gardens and those of the neighbours. We've planted flowers of our own, in pots and along the fence. As the flowers sprout and bloom my buddies have been caring for the little flowers and plants. Of course, even though it's tempting, they are instructed not to pick the flowers.
With the garden flowers being off-limits, it leaves the dandelions. These they are allowed to pick without restraint. Pulling handfuls at a time, both in bloom and fluffy seeded state. They love presenting their dandelions to me, or saving them for their moms at the end of the day. (Although by then, they've always wilted and have been mostly forgotten.)
We have planted some of the seeds we collected, too.
What better way to show my buddies how flowers turn to seeds and then how those little bits of fluffy seeds grow? Making wishes while blowing the fluff away is just a little bit of magic for everyone.
We've also painted with dandelions themselves. Using the flower heads as stamps in the bright paint.
We love our pretty garden flowers, but my buddies think these ones are dandy!
Sunday, April 28, 2013
One of the projects on my "honey do" list was this covering for my fireplace hearth. Before it was covered, I worried about the possibility that a child could fall and hit themselves on the marble tile of the hearth and be injured. To prevent that from happening, I would place my coffee table in front of the fireplace each day. This limited the way I could use the room and use of the coffee table was restricted as well. I wanted a covering that could be removed but still looked attractive enough to be left on most of the time.
Using a sheet of foam core insulation, some duct tape and adhesive vinyl floor tile, my husband constructed the covering shown in the picture. As many home daycares are required to have their hearth covered, I thought I would share the construction process.
The first step was cleaning off the hearth. An obvious step that probably didn't need a picture but I wanted to show what the original hearth looked like.
Then the foam measured and cut into shape for the fireplace.
See how the edges have been shaped to fit around the pillars?
Here's the foam cover, cut to size and laid in place.
The edges are duct taped. Nothing is actually attached to the hearth so it is completely removable. We rarely use the fireplace, but if we were to use it, we would remove the cover.
The vinyl tile is cut and put in place. There are many different colours of tile available so you can pick something that matches your decor.
The covering is complete! My buddies are safe and I don't have to keep my coffee table in front of the fireplace anymore.
Wednesday, March 13, 2013
My buddies are generally pretty good about eating their crusts. But sometimes, when one of my buddies comes back from a holiday, or a new buddy starts, we might have to work at it. Please understand that my buddies are never forced to eat anything. It's always their choice. I can help them with the choices they make, and I do.
If you are wondering what the big deal is about eating the crusts, I will explain. Beyond the fact that throwing away the crust is wasteful, having children chew and eat their crusts gets them used to a different texture AND builds muscle strength in their mouths. These muscles are important! I don't want my buddies to think that all their food should be soft and gooey! There are lots of tastes and textures to explore and I want to encourage them to explore and give all kinds of food a try.
It's fairly easy to do, too. First of all, I start by cutting my sandwiches smaller. In quarters rather than just halves. I serve just one quarter at a time and request that my buddies finish one quarter before they ask for another. Another thing I have learned is to cut the sandwiches in triangles rather than squares. It makes it seem like each sandwich has less crust that way. If I have a particularly picky eater, I might cut those triangles in half, making even smaller triangles, with even less crust. It works every time.
My buddies eat their crusts, build muscle strength, explore the firm, chewy texture and I have no waste. Every buddy wins!
Tuesday, February 26, 2013
Oh, my goodness, what have I DONE??? I brought this little guy home from the Home Depot thinking it would be a great little science project. I just read the little card on the back and it seemed easy enough to care for. Fill the cup with water and plop the plant in it, put it in a sunny area. Easy, right? Then my oldest daughter came to visit and smugly announced that I would have to FEED it. (I think she was remembering the rule I had regarding pets when she was a child. No pets that ate living things.) FEED IT? Obviously I had some research to do.
It seems my little plant is going to be a little more work than the little card suggests. Although I don't believe I have to actually feed it live insects (wheew, that was close!), it seems that it does not like tap water. Really? Hopefully I haven't already killed it because its first dose of H2O did, indeed come from the tap. Hey, if it's good enough for the humans and pets in this house, theoretically it should be good enough for a plant! Picky thing! Does it not know it is a PLANT? It may have been easier to pick up and care for a fish or a hamster. Nevertheless, there I was this morning, taking a little cup outside to retrieve some rainwater that had collected in some outdoor toys. Now, a lot of conflicting information exists on the care of the venus fly trap, so the entire project will be an experiment.
Here's the info I found, if you'd like to try growing them yourself:
Fly Trap Care
The Mysterious Venus Fly Trap
How to Grow Venus Fly Trap
I found a great colouring picture on Ellen McHenry's site. My buddies will be colouring these pics after their nap. (I'm pro-colouring pages, if you haven't guessed.) The little colouring project will go home with them and inform their parents on our activities, and hopefully spark some discussions on the topic.
I'd like to teach my buddies some simple facts about the plant. That they eat bugs, that they come from North America (I was surprised! Specifically, North and South Carolina, actually.) and, that like other plants, that they need sun and water. I will also introduce the word carnivorous.
It's been almost two months since we purchased the Venus Fly Trap and I have been faithfully watering the plant with rain water and I even had my daughter feed it a captured fly. YUCK! The fly trap has been sitting on the window above my kitchen sink, among the orchids that grow quite nicely there. I thought it would be happy there. But....
As you can see, it really hasn't grown that much at all. It doesn't look unhealthy, though, so I have decided to relocate it to the slightly sunnier window in this picture. It does place the plant within the reach of the curious hands of my buddies so we will have to see how that goes. I will update this post again if we see some changes. Do wish us - or maybe it, luck!