We have caterpillars! The eggs that we watched a Black Swallowtail butterfly lay in the garden a few days ago have hatched and the little caterpillars have begun eating the leaves. Hopefully our weather will stay mild and be better suited to their growth than last year's hot summer. If so, within a couple weeks we should have a few big caterpillars to catch so we can watch them transform!

...And, we finally got our first taste out of our garden!  There were lots of beautiful snap peas ready for us to pick today!  We learned how to tell if the pod is ready to be picked (fat, not skinny!), and we learned the best way to pick the peas so that the whole plant doesn't come with!  None of the peas actually made it to the house, though...they were just to delicious to save! :)
We got to watch a Black Swallowtail butterfly lay some eggs in the garden today! And so the cycle begins again! We are all excited for these eggs to turn into tiny little caterpillars, so we can watch them grow and change as we have for several years now. I think this might be the first time we have gotten to see the egg portion of the life cycle though, so that was new and exciting. If you would like to read more about our adventures in caterpillar-raising, click here!


Today was a great day to play with anything cool so we got out some colored ice cubes that I had been saving.

The kids had fun laying them out on some of our tree rounds, watching the colors melt together, noticing how quickly they melted in the sun,

...burying them in the sand,

...and even adding them into their mud mixtures!

     Our cold, wet spring has put us a few weeks behind, but we finally got MOST of our daycare garden planted today and had lots of fun doing it!  We still have a few things to add over the next couple of days because I wanted to  make sure those that weren't here today can get in on this too.  Today we planted carrots, peas, green beans, corn, sunflowers, and some tomato plants.  We still hope to get in our lettuce, spinach, pumpkins, a couple more tomato plants, and some potatoes in the next couple of days.
I have had so much fun learning right along with the kids!  This will be our first year trying potatoes, so we'll see how that goes and what we learn from that! :)
I also set out a box of dirt with some of last year's leftover seeds and gardening tools for the kids to play around with and they really enjoyed that, especially after we had finished the "real" planting.
Hopefully the forecasted rain will help out our new garden and we will get some warm weather to help it grow, too.  I really love watching the kids see their seeds grow and getting to harvest their vegetables, too!
     Today is APRIL 18th.  And this is what it looks like outside our windows.
Yes, snow is wonderful.  Yes, we love to play in it.  But, yes, we have had enough.  The kids are so ready for warmer weather that we have had the vast majority of our imaginative free play consumed by thoughts of swimming!  So, today we had a "Pool Party" day inside.  I turned up the heat a couple of degrees and the kids all spent the morning in their swimsuits!  We pretend- sunbathed  (don't worry, we even got out some sunscreen first ;) )...
...pretended to swim a little...
...had lots of beach ball fun...
...and even planned, predicted, and observed sinking vs. floating while we played in the water!
We also read a book that was perfect for the occasion!
It has been a day full of fun and imagination!  :)
Preschool painting color mixing giant rainbow
     Color, color, color!  The two weeks leading up to St. Patrick's Day were filled with all the colors of the rainbow around here.  We did lots of painting and color mixing (I provided only the primary colors and we discovered what happens when they mix together!) to make a giant rainbow, in hopes that it might bring a leprechaun to hide his gold here!

And it worked!  :)  We had a mischievous leprechaun stop by and turn our milk green, and he even turned the toilet water green!  He also left us some fun surprises: a "pot of rainbow" and some green glow bracelets!  He left a note, so we learned that his name is Sneaky O'Malley!

Baking Soda and Vinegar with Jello and painting
We had lots of other color fun too, like our baking soda and vinegar play, with red jell-o powder added in.  An idea that came from Footsteps In Growing Daycare that we had a lot of fun with.  When the kids were all done playing with the bubbling reaction, we used the resulting mush to paint with.  It left an interesting textured product that smelled wonderful! :)

     We also had fun with flubber, and a new-to-us sensory material: Rainbow dough.  We have made cloud dough before -- it consists of flour and baby oil.  Since the only moisture comes from the oil, when we added colors one at a time, they didn't mix together but stayed separate as we played to become rainbow dough!  It is shown here after we had only added green, but Play Counts has some fun pictures of the dough with all colors added.

Preschool rainbows

     We had fun with rainbow strips of paper available in the art area all week,

...and our new rainbow sensory bottles!   We also learned a couple of new songs that you may have been hearing at home!  If not, ask the kids to sing you the Rainbow song, or the Leprechaun song that they learned!

We even got to EAT a rainbow with these colorful rainbow fruit kabobs and explore new and fun green foods, like avocado. 

We worked together to build a tape rainbow and then used it as the base for our rainbow color scavenger hunt!  Some of the kids are really getting good at ripping tape off the rolls....such HARD work for little fingers!  But they are very motivated to learn how, so they work, work, work at it!

     We had so much fun learning and playing with colors!
     For the past few days, I have been gluing magnets to the back of just about anything I could think of.  :)  From craft sticks, to pom-poms, to pipe cleaners, we now have loads of new magnets!  Why?  We got a new giant magnet board (actually an oil drip pan from the automotive section at WalMart) that we have been having lots of fun with!
     Magnets are a great science material for kids to explore.   And they have just had so much fun doing it!  They have done lots of experimenting to figure out what magnets will and won't stick to...and were really excited when they discovered that some of the magnets will stick to other magnets!  :)
     And with the variety of magnet toys we have, there has been some great creativity, counting, cooperation, planning, and teamwork!
Since tomorrow is Groundhog Day, today we had some fun exploring light and shadows... a great way to make the events of the day relevant to kids!  First we used our hole-punches to punch holes in some cardboard tubes...
Just look at how hard these little hand muscles (which need to be built up and exercised in order to be ready for writing) are being worked!
Next, we darkened the toy room, passed out some flashlights and got to work!  :)
     It's not very often around here that we play with something that leaves the area cleaner than when we started!
Today we learned and experimented with bubbles!  I got out a few bowls of soapy water and some straws with holes poked near the top (to help prevent the soap from going all the way UP the straw and into mouths!), and we got to work blowing bubbles.  We learned that you have to blow soft and slow to make BIG bubbles, 
...and blow fast and hard to make LOTS of little bubbles.
We learned that if your hand is dry, it will pop your bubbles (aka, breaking the surface tension), but if it is wet, you can put it (and just about anything else!) INSIDE your bubbles!  
And since the letter list that we're working on right now is the letter B, we got out our Bugs to Blow Bubbles around and came up with lots of relevant words to add to our list today!
     This fun idea came from Teachpreschool.org and we really enjoyed making our own versions today.  We brought in some snow and got to work filling up the jars that we had decorated with paper features.
Once our snowmen were all filled up, I gave the kids a piece of paper with two empty jars on it for them to "record" what their jar looked like now, and again later after we had observed them for a while.  Seeing the kids record their observations is something that I have not really done with them before and it turned out to be MY favorite part.  :)
Once we had observed the snowmen for a few hours, we got out our papers and recorded our new data.  The snowmen faces helped give the kids good perspective as the snow melted.  There were a lot of great science vocabulary words being used today:  snow, cold, melt, warm, smaller, etc.  And a few of the kids were excited to take their snowmen home to recreate the experiment for their parents to see! :)