We had lots of fun experimenting with candy canes today!  Before we could get started experimenting (or eating!), we had to use our fine motor/pre-writing muscles to open up the individually wrapped candy canes!  And while we unwrapped, we watched this short video about how candy canes are made.
     We talked about what happens to a candy cane when we suck on it...though we had to really think about it since most of the kids didn't have the patience not to chew them!  Then we talked about what we thought would happen to the candy canes when we put them in each of our four bowls: one with ice water, one with warm water, one with boiling water, and one with vinegar.
The kids noticed right away that the candy canes in the hot water turned the water red quickly.  The candy dissolved in the warm water next, with slower results in the cold water and the vinegar.  Next, I pulled out some baking soda and we added that to the bowl of vinegar.  We got the exciting fizzy reaction we are used to from that fun combination, but other than that it didn't do much to the candy.
     Next, I asked the kids what they thought might happen if we put some candy canes into the oven.  "They would get hot!", "They will get bigger." (I'm sure that guess comes from watching baked goods rise in the oven, so there was some great thinking going on there!)
So, we tried it and the answer is: they get bendy! :)  We put our mini candy canes in at 225* for about 8 minutes and when they came out, if we moved slowly and carefully, we could bend them into different shapes!
We had lots of fun playing with our candy today! :)
     Today we had fun decorating (and re-decorating!) our new felt Christmas tree!  The kids used pieces of felt that I had cut into the shapes of ball ornaments, light bulbs, and stars and took turns making their tree beautiful!  :)
     I'm back!  The new baby and I are, so far, adjusting well to merging our days with all the other kids... I'm glad to report that the first couple of days back have gone really well! 
     Today the kids made some festive trees using strips of green paper cut to varying lengths.  It was great practice using the pre-math skill of judging biggest to smallest, as they had to compare the rectangular strips to get them in the right order to make a tree shape.  They also had to use their visual-spacial and visual planning skills to lay the strips in a way that would allow them to fit the whole tree onto their paper.  Of course, for the younger ones we didn't worry so much about those things, and instead let them focus on the fine motor skills of  picking up the papers, applying glue, and placing them down to make a much more "abstract" tree!  :)  
     We then placed a foil star sticker at the top and used some Q-tips dipped in white paint to add some snowflakes!