I am pretty sad that summer is coming to an end, but we are not going to let that stop us from enjoying every last bit of nice weather in our new mud pie kitchen! (Though I think it will make a fun snow pie kitchen, too!) I still hope to add a real kitchen sink on the left side, but it's definitely usable! The kids were so excited to see it ready for play this morning, and they have already spent hours scooping, digging, squeezing (great pre-writing work!), counting, measuring (math concepts), role-playing, planning, communicating, problem solving (VERY important social skills), just rolling in the new dirt patch, and having SO MUCH FUN!
We were also in the mood for some painting today, so some jumped right into that as well!
Chalk paint was a big hit yesterday! Equal parts cornstarch and water, with food coloring or liquid watercolor mixed in, then frozen. The kids had fun using them as chalk, and then even more fun when they discovered that as it melted, it made oobleck...one of our favorite sensory materials! They loved watching the colors swirl and run together as it melted.
We had lots of fun experimenting with exploding sandwich bags (vinegar, warm water, and baking soda) this morning! And then we had more fun scooping, pouring, sifting, touching, holding, tossing, measuring, and mixing all the ingredients! Learn how to mix up your own exploding bags here.
The kids had brand new butterflies waiting for them when they came today! We got to release two Black Swallowtail butterflies that we caught and cared for as caterpillars a couple weeks ago. They were not overly eager to fly right away so we got to observe them right in the garden for quite a while! This led to great discussions on how to tell a male from a female, and we got to see the "proboscis" in action! Now that we have a butterfly house free again, we'll have to get a few more caterpillars in it, I'm sure!
We have tadpoles! :) I have been going out searching, but hadn't been able to find any yet in the spots I'd been checking. But, thanks to a great friend who found AND delivered, we have tadpoles to observe and care for again this summer! We have six tadpoles, and they range in stages of development, from one with just a tail and no limbs yet to a frog with just a tiny nub of a tail left, and all phases in between.
These are a different variety than we had last year, too so that should be fun! We identified last year's tadpoles as American Toads. Since toads keep growing throughout their lives, those tadpoles and new toads were SO TINY! The tadpoles we have this year seem HUGE in comparison!
We learned last year that we can feed the tadpoles frozen lettuce bits. Freezing the lettuce first helps to break it down and make it easier for the tadpoles to eat. Beyond feeding them, there really isn't much else we need to do for them...we just get to observe the magic of science! :)
We started working on our Water Wall today! If you remember, we did a water wall last summer too and had a lot of fun with it. With as much rain as we have had around our area lately, rarely has learning about water flow been a more relevant activity! Since the kids were familiar with the concept from last time and since we have a couple of older kids with us now, this time I just set out the materials and let the kids work on building it.
I think it will be a work in progress for most of the summer so feel free to send along any fun plastic bottles as you empty them!
A little later than we'd hoped, and our rows may not be perfectly straight, but we got our daycare vegetable garden planted today! We had a fantastic time getting it planted and are excited to see our seeds start to grow!
This year we put it spinach, lettuce, green beans, two rows of (our favorite!) snap peas, carrots, and sunflowers. We also have mini pumpkins planted in our wire tunnel and are looking forward to having a beautiful green living tunnel to play in this summer!
I love gardening with the kids so much because it is such a fun lesson that covers so many areas of learning. Each year that they participate in the growing process, they are learning science, math concepts (counting out the seeds and rows, and spacing), health and nutrition (as we harvest what we've planted), and so much more!
This morning we got out and enjoyed the sunshine with a fun sensory activity. I love when the weather is so cooperative! :) And I really love when we can do these messy activities outside so I don't have to clean it up! ;)
I set out a tub, a bag of flour, and a bottle of dishsoap and let the kids take care of the rest! They mixed it together to form a super soft dough. They loved the softness of the flour and ended up using the whole bag, along with the whole bottle of soap (of course!). They had so much fun being in complete control of their project and learned through their experimenting about how the ratio of ingredients changes the texture.
SO much great learning going on in just this photo! :) A couple of the kids asked this morning if they could make a giant spider web with yarn (something we have done here before). Well, they got to work and as I watched and listened, I was once again amazed at all the learning that was going on in their PLAY!
Large motor control and agility practice as they figured out how to maneuver over, under, and through the web... fine motor work too, as they carefully wrapped up little toy bugs in the web for the spider to eat. And the greatest little science lesson as they discussed why they were wrapping up those bugs: Child 1: "We are wrapping them up so the spider can eat them. Actually, they just drink their blood." Child 2: "Gross!" Child 1: "Yeah, but it's healthy for them. And if we drink blood it just goes into our tummy." Me: "Do people drink blood?" Child 2: "No! But we have blood inside us!"
This is the way learning is supposed to be...THEY chose the subject, and THEY chose how to go about their learning, which makes what they learn relevant and meaningful!
With another cloudy and rainy day came another request for "Clouds In a Jar" today. :) Definitely one of my group's favorites!