Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Summer Time Invitations to Play

The kids and I went to the beach this summer and discovered a whole ocean of treasures. Some of them we could only observe: Fish, waves, jelly fish, hermit crabs. But some we could take home with us like a coconut or seashells. The beach made quite an impression on Birdie and Bug and they have been talking about it a lot since we got back. I decided to build on this interest with a few beach and ocean themed activities.

Our ocean themed invitations: "Sand" play dough and sea shells, painting found objects (a coconut from the beach), and an ocean themed sensory tub with blue crayola sand, sharks, fish, and whales.

Monday, July 27, 2015

We Have Been Hard at Work

 Folks, let me tell you, we have been hard at work this summer. The entire month of June was spent turning this garage...

In to this beautiful classroom! 
 I had some great helpers!

 We spackled, we painted, we hung and aranged and rearanged and rearranged and finally...
We were able to bring this beautiful room to you! I am so excited! Please allow me to give you the grand tour!

 Bellow is our light table. This is always a classroom favorite! The children have access to a variety of materials to explore using the light table from Magna Tiles to glass beads. These materials are fun to play with on their own, but adding light and reflection adds another element to the play.

Here is our home living center. As with most of the centers in the class, mirrors are added. This serves several purposes. The first is to reflect the natural light in to all the areas of the class. Studies have shown that natural light improves both students health and mood.  The second reason to include mirrors in our play spaces is to allow the child a different way to observe themselves and their play.

Blocks and Construction. This is one of my favorite centers and the one that I personally like to play with the most! (Yes, I still play. You should too!) As with our other centers this one has a large mirror placed at ground level so children can observe their creations from many different angles.
Every class needs a nice cozy place to curl up with a book! Soft pillows and a corner away from the more active centers is the perfect spot.

A safe place for and anxious child to find peace and quiet...

 Colored pencils sorted by color families...

Natures treasures on display...

An outdoor art area...

Sensory table...

 Another cozy nook...

 A place for the fairies! We can't leave them out!

So there you have it! The grand tour of the Sense of Wonder Play School! Please tell me what you think. Would you like to spend your day here? Let me know in the comment section below.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Throw a Frankentoy Party!

My little one just turned 7! Because she loves tinkering and building, we decided to throw her a Frankentoy Birthday Party.
 What is a Frankentoy party you ask? 
Just like Dr. Frankenstein built his famous monster from lots of random parts, kids at this party build their own toys from bits and pieces of other toys.

Throw your own Frankentoy party by following these easy steps.

Step 1. Start collecting toys! 

We began searching our own toy closets, garage sales, and thrift stores for cheap toys to use for our party. Because I wanted to throw this party on a budget, I sent out a plea to Facebook friends for donations and they were happy to oblige. I ended up with way more than I needed.

Step 2. Take apart your toys

Some of the toys I was able to take apart with a screwdriver, but others I just had to saw up. I thought doing this in front of the kids might be traumatizing so I did most of it before the party. But as you can see some of the toy dismembering happened at the party and the children all thought it was great. It may have actually been their favorite part.

Step 3. Hot glue

Unfortunately there is just not another way to do this that will work as well. Hot glue is strong and fast. You have very little drying time so you don't have to worry about the toys falling apart on the way home. I only provided one glue gun and I kept an adult near by to help and supervise. You can also provide popsicle sticks to use to hold pieces together so little fingers don't get burned. It is my opinion that 7 year old children can use a glue gun, but I understand that some parents may be uncomfortable with this. Use common sense, and listen to your gut. If you feel like you would rather station an adult to do the actual gluing that is fine.

Step 4. Make your own Frankentoy creation to use as a cake topper.

Make sure you wash it thoroughly before you place it on your cake. This particular toy is made from a silver surfer, a rubber duck and a Madam Alexander doll.  I let my kids help with sprinkles and little candied googly eyes.

Step 5. Take lots of pictures of your fun creations and wait to be amazed by the creativity of kids. They are truly amazing!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Just a thought

I have had parents in my class become horrified upon discovering that their boys were dressing up and playing in the kitchen. They would say things like, "Don't wear that! You don't want to look like a girl."

What they are actually saying is that being a girl is shameful. And that is the inner voice these boys will carry with them in to manhood. That is the voice they will hear when they become a boyfriend, a husband and a father.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Don't Touch Me

 I have to admit, I am an affectionate mother. I love nothing more than to cuddle with my babies. I want to smother them with kisses. I want to chew on their toes. I want to pat and pinch and squeeze and tickle them. But my children's feelings have to come first.

My oldest and youngest children seem to be just as affectionate as me. My teenager will still curl up next to me for cuddles. And my son will lean in for kisses and hugs all day. But my middle child is different.

From the time she was a little baby, Birdie didn't want to be touched too much. She didn't want to be held. She didn't want to be rocked to sleep. She would scream and cry the entire time she was in my arms. But once I laid her in her crib she would fall right to sleep. I realized that kissing and cuddling were fulfilling my needs, but ignoring hers. At a young age she had set a boundary with me and I needed to respect it.

Last night as Birdie was getting ready for bed I leaned in to kiss her goodnight. Her eyes got big and she held out her hand, "Bubble, MOM! Personal bubble!"

Just like when she was a baby, my first reaction was to be hurt. But I quickly squashed it down. This wasn't about me. "Baby," I said, "Thank you for reminding me. You have every right to not want to be kissed. You have the right to tell me, Daddy, Grandma or Grandpa, or anyone else that you don't want kisses or hugs. Your bubble is yours alone and you get to decide who can come in and who can't." She smiled at me and I saw her body relax.

My children should all have this lesson. While some may feel that they have the right to kiss and hug as much as they want, my children need to know that they have control over their bodies. They need to know that others need permission to enter their space. It is a privilege not a right.

So this holiday, remember. If a child does not want to kiss Grandma, or Uncle Joe, please don't make them. Respect your child and their caution. And they will learn to respect their own inner voices.

 A while after our discussion, Birdie came and gave me a hug. She pulled my face down to her level and kissed my cheek and said, "I love you, Mommy." And that freely given kiss was the best kiss ever.