Thursday, September 30, 2010

We've Gone Catapult Crazy!!!!

Earlier this week, we started to make a few catapults after reading this wonderful post over at All Things Beautiful. They found the idea from Almost Unschoolers (click here). I love all of the online tweaking and inspiration going on!!!

Our first group of builders this week decided that they wanted to decorate their catapults with paint. So, of course, we had to wait for the paint to dry before we put them together. We used scraps of wood, clothespins, plastic lids (from milk, juice... etc), and tongue depressors. We also used hot glue to put them together.

Our ammunition has consisted primarily of cotton balls. Although, today when a group of girls was simultaneously shooting theirs off, they became "POPPING POPCORN BALLS."

"Fire in the hole!"

Today's group of children did not want to wait for the paint to dry. They were having so much fun with the painted catapults, that they wanted their own "right now!" So, they opted to decorate/personalize their contraptions with markers.

A quick set with hot glue, and they were ready to fire!

Our hula hoops hanging from the raptor's foot made a great obstacle/target to try to aim our cotton balls through.

I have a feeling we will be tinkering with a few other ideas. I found this great post about other catapult designs here. I have a feeling we will be thinking BIGGER very soon!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

What Would You Do With It? Wednesdays #6 Egg Cartons!

Welcome to this week's edition of "What Would You Do With It?" This week's featured item is......

Egg Cartons!

We have used them to/for:

1) Plant seeds in

2) As a sorting tray

3) To make a caterpillar

4) To make "bug-eye" glasses

5) As eyes on a puppet

Now... it is your turn... What would you or did you do with them?? Don't forget to check out the previous week's postings and add your ideas there too!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Thank You - Our New Play Structure

Our outdoor play space is continually evolving.....

(This photo is from June 2006 when we first moved in.)

I can't seem to locate the photos from 2008 when we had 19 tons of sand delivered! I'm sure all of the children remember the huge truck backing into the yard and dumping the HUGE mountain of sand that became our sandpit.

(This photo was taken in September 2009 after the completion of our new fence.)
As you can see the majority of our "stuff" is misplaced as we had to move it away from the perimeter for the fence work.

(This photo is from June of 2010, before we put in the new play structure.)

In early September, we were informed that we were eligible for a Quality Improvement Grant from the Great Start Regional Resource Center (4C of the UP). I could not in good conscience ask for anything to use indoors. (Have you been to our place? We seriously have a lot of resources!). We have however been working on changing our outdoor space, and there have been some recent requests for a treehouse. We don't have a very good tree for a treehouse, so we found a great outdoor play structure with a tower that will have to suffice! (For those of you who are not right here in the local area, We live one block from a local park. Prior to the installation of our new structure, we spent a lot of time using the city's play equipment. We will still visit the park, but it is nice to have some of our own "big" equipment in the yard. The park does not have a fence around it, so having this equipment in our yard makes the experience much safer.)

The new structure came as a pile of wood and a box of hardware. The box, was conveniently missing the instructions. Fortunately, we were able to get a set of the instructions from the company.

After 3 weeks of difficulties with the weather. (It rained A LOT!) We finally finished the structure! It has a great climbing wall (we added extra "stones" to aid our smaller children in having a successful climb).
There is a really cool yellow slide that goes really fast!

We have two swings. On one side there is a infant/transition swing, and on the other side a regular swing.

The tower is like a fort with a periscope, telescope, and steering wheel.

We have also added quite a few other things to our play space.

We put up an outdoor easel on the fence last spring.

Inspired by other bloggers and folks who work with young children, we created a Mud Pie Kitchen. (See more about this here.)

With some ideas from other bloggers, The U.P. Children's Museum, and some of our own ingenuity, we created an outdoor music area. (You can read more about this here.)

Our outdoor learning space has definitely come a long way! Don't worry, we are still evolving! Stay tuned, our next big addition is on it's way!

Thank you to the Great Start Regional Resource Center for providing the necessary funds to update our play area!

We would also like to thank all of the other early childhood educators (parents and professionals) for sharing all of their ideas and continuing to inspire us to evolve :).

Monday, September 27, 2010

Dinosaur Hide and Seek

The children are always interested in playing "Hide and Seek." I have gone back and forth with the idea behind this game, and have opted to allow the game as long as a few rules are followed. For example, we only play Hide and Seek at our house or in our yard. (When we are on a field trip, Ms. Amy gets too scared when she can't tell that our friends are safe.) On our property, we set boundaries. If Ms. Amy needs to check in, everyone knows that the game is over and comes out of their hiding places. We have also adapted the game to include our dinosaur friends. It has become sort of a mix between an Easter Egg Hunt and Hide and Seek.

One of our friends collects a certain number of dinosaurs. Everyone else closes their eyes as they are hidden in the play area. Then everyone tries to find the hidden dinosaurs.

This game usually involved lots of running, seeking, and communication. How many do we have? How many more do we need to find? Where do you think the last one(s) could be? Am I hot or cold? Can you give me a clue?

Of course, our game has been played primarily with dinosaurs, but you could try this game out with pretty much anything!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Thursday, September 23, 2010


If you have been following along on our journey, you know that Dane has opted to add Art History to his curriculum this year, and we tend to focus on that every Thursday. (It is abundantly clear that all of the subjects are interwoven, but we tend to start with a focus and add all kinds of other aspects into that focus each day.) Today, we started to look at Frescoes.

Many artists throughout time have used a Fresco technique in their work. Our focus today was on the Minoan Frescoes. If you are not familiar with the technique, artists used pigments on wet plaster to create their works of art on a wall. As the plaster dries it soaks up the pigment and the work of art is then part of the wall.

Being that this was our first attempt at creating a Fresco, we opted to make ours on a cardboard/plaster canvas instead of on the wall. However, don't be surprised if you see a post in the future where we put this technique to use on the walls!!!!

We started with some cardboard pieces taken from our recycle bin. We just happened to have some cracker boxes in our stash today.

Then we mixed up a batch of Plaster of Paris, and spread it on the cardboard. (I opted to put it on the colored side, but if your children dig down into the plaster, you might prefer it to be on the solid side as some of the color has the potential to show through.)

Finally, it was time to paint while the plaster was still wet.

We had a wide variety of color choices, but only a small amount of each color. (Our wonderful paint pallets are from Toffifay candy. We recycle a lot around here ;).

The children really spent some time exploring this new medium, I have a feeling it is one we will be revisiting often.

If you are interested in some of our other art history projects, you may want to look at these:

Cave Paintings

Mummy and Decorating a Sarcophagus (Part of a longer post)

My friend died

 I learned a hell of a lot from Dan Hodgins.  He was mentor, a friend, and a "bone shaker" for many of us in the field of Early Ch...