Saturday, June 25, 2011

Rainbow Noodles

Sometimes, when it's grey and gloomy outside, a little colour inside can brighten the day!

Coloured noodles were always fasinating to me as a child, "the pasta at my house doesn't look like that" I'd think to myself.  Although most of us as Educators have been taught not to use food as art items, my personal philosophy/opinions sometimes bend the rules. 

Making coloured pasta is extremely easy and there is NO need to use rubbing alcohol as some recipes suggest.

You'll Need:
~ Noodles of various shapes
~ Liquid food colouring....and lots of it!
~ Baggie or container with a tight seal
~ Newspaper
~ Table or large drying area
~ Rubber gloves

How To:
1) Spread out newspaper on table or drying area
2) Fill baggie or container 3/4 full with noodles (fyi - this is a great way to learn the actual names of the noodles)
3) Add 2 (or more) Tablespoons of liquid food colour to the baggie or container and SHAKE, SHAKE, SHAKE!!!  Mix and mingle colours to see what does one make black and lime green?
4) Wearing your rubber gloves, spread noodles out on the newspaper, turning once (possibly twice) to evenly dry.
5) Make necklaces, create collages, play sorting games and if you feel adventurous, boil and eat them!

I hope you enjoy this activity as much as "my" children have!
Until You Read Again......

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Tin Can Chime - First Tutorial!

I've wanted to make this for the longest time.  It's a fun (and easy) way to upcycle all the tin cans we would otherwise recycle.

Let's get started......

  • 3 tin cans of various widths
  • water
  • hammer and nail
  • string/yarn/twine
  • buttons or beads
  • bolt or heavy washer
How To:

Step 1)  Clean out cans, fill each can with about 5cm (2 in.) of water, then freeze.

Step 2) Take cans out of freezer and turn upside down on a stable work surface.  Hammer a hole into the centre of each can, making it large enough to put the string through. (*note: please give the children straight, clean nails to use....I grabbed the first one I saw and it's condition is, well, older!)

Step 3) Run hot water over cans to dislodge the ice; dry cans.  Cut a very long piece of string and prep. 3 buttons or beads.  Thread the string through the largest can, leaving about 15cm (6in.) at the top, and tie on a button/bead to secure it in place.  Continue with the next two cans, being sure to secure them so that each can sits about 2.5cm (1in.) into the other can. You can fiddle around with it though to get it just the way you like it. 
To Finish: Thread buttons or beads on the bottom string and tie the bolt or washer to the very end.  Hang in the yard or by an open window :)

As an extension or a pre-chime making, decorate the cans!  Let me know how yours turn out!
Until You Read Again.....

Thursday, June 16, 2011

SnAcK AtTaCk #1

After school can be a great time to teach children basic cooking skills and they often seem to enjoy eating new foods when they've had a hand in making them.

Fancy Toast 
Sliced bread
Peanut butter (or Pea butter or Soy butter)
Honey, liquid
Toasted pumpkin seeds
Dried cranberries

1) Toast bread and spread with peanut (or other) buter.
2) Drizzle with honey and sprinkle with pumpkin seeds and cranberries.
3) Eat it all gone...yum!
*You can switch up the combo of dried fruits and seeds. Fill up little bowls full and the children can pick and choose their own!

 What's your favourite after school snack?  Share the recipe here!
Until You Read Again.....

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

TODAY- Nature Play Day!

What are you going to do to celebrate nature today? 
This afternoon, the school-age group will be creating a habitat for garden snails that I recieved at the workshop (mine laid eggs!) 

Here are some ideas you and your children may like to use to reconnect with nature!
  • Earth clay sculptures
  • Branch, shell and stone mobile
  • Turn over logs and rocks to discover what's underneath
  • Plant or pot a garden
  • Buy a pet tree.....yes, trees make great pets!
  • Photograph something in nature
  • Sketch a natural element
  • Make mud pies
  • Play in the forest
  • Walk through the grass in bare feet
All of these things are possible.  If not today, then tomorrow and then the next day and the next.....until we help children understand that the future of their environments don't need to be made entirely of concrete and plastic.

Until You Read Again.....

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


Tomorrow, June 15th, is the 1st National Nature Play Day.  Take your children out into nature, plan a nature related activity or read about nature.  Visit to learn more and even registar your activity.  Help your children (and maybe even yourself) reconnect with nature.
Until You Read Again.....

Soothing Stones

Once in a while (or sometimes every other day!) children end up with a "learning injury".  Bumps, bruises, blisters, scrapes and stings all need something to ease the pain and my co-worker Andrea introduced me to a very eco-friendly way to do this! 
Stones.  Rounded and smooth.
Keep these stones in the freezer and when a boo-boo ensues:  choose a stone, wrap in a small cloth and apply to boo-boo'ed area! 
  • To personalize the stones, take children on a hunt for their perfect soothing stone and then use a permanent marker to write the childs name on it. 
  • Instead of trying to scramble to find a cloth for wrapping, you could sew or crochet your own little pocket to keep the stone in.
  • The cooling effect lasts for about 45 minutes (depending on stone size). 
  • The stones are easy to transport in a cooler for outtings or at camp.
  • Alternately, you may just want to use soothing stones as a nice way to cool down on a hot day or ease an aching muscle.
Have a Soothing Day!
Until You Read Again.......

Nurtured by Nature

What is the sound of a child playing in the forest??? 

On June 9th & 10th I had the opportunity to attend a workshop on Natural Playgrounds and using nature within the curriculum.  A presentation and some great hands on learning were implemented by Adam and Jill Beinenstock, a husband and wife team who combine their knowledge of Landscapes and Early Childhood Education to produce playgrounds that bring children back to nature.
Many of us grew up playing amongst trees,digging in gardens, climbing hills, picking up worms and lovingly creating mud pies. In the last few decades, generations of children/people are growing up without ever playing in a forest or sticking their hands in mud because of fear-mongering.  
"We are a social enterprise that has responded to a crisis. Children no longer have the freedom to roam or explore their neighbourhoods, walk to school, or even climb a tree as we did when we were young. Our playgrounds have become flattened, paved and sterilized land punctuated with catalogued monuments of plastic and steel while obesity rates, diabetes, asthma and ADHD run out of control through our children and youth. Screen time for kids in North America now exceeds 52hrs per week and for the first time in history; our children will have a shorter lifespan than their parents. This happened on our watch, and it is becoming clear that something has gone terribly wrong." - Beinenstock. 
Adam speaks very passionately about what he does.  One of the stories that really stuck with me was about Adam meeting with an inspector at a playground with a boulder: The inspector was apparently questioning the safety of the boulder and what relevance it had in the playground, when two children came along-one who was "fit" and the other not so much-to play at the boulder.  The fit child made his way to the top in a few movements, while his friend took a few tries and had difficulty.  The fit friend then began guiding and encouraging his "not so much" friend to the top of this boulder.  The inspector got his answer.  Kind of a modern Aesop's fable!  After his intro. and slide show, we split into groups and visited the host Daycares playground.  We listened to how the process leading to the final product was very important to the overall function and design.  It was then our turn to create a scale model masterpiece....a thoughtful venture indeed!!!

Jill was also an inspiration, evoking much conversation about how we can use our curriculum to bring children back to nature.  A slide show about gardening prompted talk of plant safety and shrubs that you can see under.  Many people seemed astounded that children (in the pictures) were using metal and wood gardening tools.  On the second workshop day, Jill had brought along a vast array of curriculum ideas that the adults got to try!  Do you know how relaxing it is to mould red clay?!  Making natural paint/dyes with the mortar and pestle, rolling bird seed "meatballs" and creating habitats for snails (how do snails fly?), these were just the tip of the iceberg.  So much happened in such a small period of time, but it was an experience I know i'll always remember.

Check out these links to find out more about connecting children with nature:

Just as a personal aside; Playgrounds are also my passion.  My goal in 10years is to be creating playscapes full time.  To remind parents, Educators and schools about the benefits of nature in our communities.  The people that know me will tell you that I will just about talk your ears off about the subject of outdoor play and those of you I haven't met ready!
It is time for us to help our children reconnect to the land that once taught and nurtured so many of us.  It is time for us to give them back the ability to get dirty, take risks, and play freely.
Until You Read Again.....

Friday, June 10, 2011

Boiling Over

I've just finished a 2 day workshop revolving around Natural playgrounds and Natural curriculum....A full post will follow(probably on Sunday).  But as I sat there listening, watching, chatting and doing, my brain began churning out ideas and my idea book quickly began filling up and now I feel like a pot boiling over.  SO, in order to alleviate the brain clutter, I'm going to be pouring out maaaaany activity ideas and conversation pieces.  Remember, if you have anything to share with the Collective please let me know. 
One of the things I spoke with other Educators about is that we don't always get to network with other Educators outside of our Centres (time, distance, etc.), and that's why I think that a blog like this is really important. 
Challenge: Network with a group of Educators from other Centres......go for tea & coffee, set up a make and take night, or maybe a potluck supper!?

Until You Read Again.....

Monday, June 6, 2011

Jack be Nimble

From:, written by Amee Abel
Basic Jacks:
Flip for who goes first. Then work your way up from onesies to tensies and back down to onesies. Begin by throwing the jacks out on the floor. Then, taking a ball (you can use the little ones that come in the sets or we always preferred the "Pinkies" (tennis-ball sized pink rubber balls) you throw the ball into the air, pick up the correct number of jacks and letting the ball bounce once, catch the ball while still holding the jack(s).  You can only use one hand. Your turn continues until you miss the ball, miss the jacks, move a jack, or drop a jack you've just picked up. Then you are out and it is the next person's turn.
For instance, on onesies, you'll pick up one jack at a time, until you've collected all ten. (You may put the jacks you've collected into your other hand or on the ground before you try to collect more.) On twosies, you pick them up two at a time.
On threesies, you pick them up three at a time, with one left over. You pick up the leftover(s) by itself. If you pick up the leftover before you've picked up all the evenly grouped jacks, you are putting the horse before the cart and therefore must call "cart" as you take the leftover jack(s). On Foursies, there are, obviously, two groups of four and two jacks in the "cart." Fivesies has no cart. Sixsies has one group of six and four in the "cart." And so on.
If you throw the jacks and two (or more) are touching it is Kissies and you have the option of picking up the kissing jacks and dropping them to spread them out. This is sometimes advantageous; sometimes not.
FLIPPING: By flipping, we mean you take all the jacks in the palms of your two hands held together, throw them into the air as you turn your hands over so that the backs are now upwards with index fingers touching to form a surface onto which you will catch the jacks. Now, throw the jacks into the air again, this time returning your hands to the palms up position at which you started. Catch all the jacks? Good. When flipping for first, the player who drops the least goes first. If none drop, the you take turns flipping until someone drops one, determining who goes first.
You may also decide to flip at the beginning of a game.Flipping is done on your first turn only, and only until you drop a jack. The level at which you drop the jack(s) must be played from those dropped jacks. You continue from there. Thus, if you drop 2 jacks on your third flip (threesies), you would have to pick up the two jacks together (since at threesies you are taking them three at a time) and then continue with foursies. How far you can flip is decided at the outset of a game:flip only to fivsies, flip to tensies, flip all the way, and no flipping.
The Winner: The first player to complete the agreed upon steps. In Basic Jacks, the first player to complete the challenge of going from Onsies to Tensies and back down again to Onsies.

Give it a try.  What else could you use as jacks?  Stones, small toys, many possibilities.
Until You Read Again......

Thursday, June 2, 2011

"BULLDOZER" a game by Austin.I.

How To Play:
1) No vehicles
2) At least 2 teams
3) Only up to 10 hiding spots
4) Only tag other team if you want to
5) Each team has a person that is "it"
6) Tell someone how many points (they have)
7) Be invisible
8) Points for tagging someone not on your team
9) Only people that are "it" can go on vehicles

*This game is played in our Daycares playground.  If you have a question for Austin about the game, please leave a comment so he can respond.

Thanks to Austin for sharing his game :)

Until You Read Again......

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Hop till you Drop!

Sweep the sidewalk, dust the concrete, it's time for Hopscotch!
This game is enjoyed by young and old and everyone in between!  My Noni (Grandmother) used to recall to me stories of her playing hopscotch when she was a little girl growing up in Italy.  "I was the queen!" she'd say proudly. 
The basic hopscotch grid is similar to the one in the picture; set of squares or rectangles numbered 1 through 10.  The player(s) will need a small stone, bottle top, button, something to clearly mark their spot. 

How To Play:

Version #1 > The player tosses the marker to land on a number.  The player then hops on one foot onto the grid, starting at 1 and making it all the way to 10 without jumping on the number the marker is on.  The player then turns around and comes back through the grid, stopping to pick up the marker.  If a player touches the grid border, their turn is done and must line up to begin again.

Version #2 > Similar to version #1 except that the player must begin with the marker tossed to #1...then #2...then #3...etc.  until they've made it to 10.  The first player to make it to 10 first wins!

Version #3 > i'm not overly familiar with the complete rules for this. It involves different foot positions, through each round (ie- round one; hop on two feet -round two hop on one foot and so on)

The grid itself has taken on many forms, from the ladder type (squares of numbers all the way up), to the traditional I just spoke of.  I have also come across the snail shell, the serpentine and the checker board (pix to follow).  **having diffiuculty finding the right moment to take pix....apologies**

CHALLENGE:  I challenge everyone to come up with their own designs for a hopscotch grid and give it a name.  Educators, please take pictures to share so others could try them out too!

Happy Hopping!
Until You Read Again......