Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Armed with Screwdrivers - the Demolition Crew!

With the new standards for cribs in childcare coming into effect in a few months, there are a lot of cribs out there that will no longer be used as cribs. We don't use cribs in our home, but a friend of mine had four that she was getting rid of. It seriously ERKS me to think of all of those cribs in a landfill.  After all.... they have some perfectly good parts that can be put to use!

Before we could get to work making our upcycled creations, we had to take apart the cribs.  I was really excited to see that some of the cribs had plexi-glass ends. I have oodles of uses for plexiglass!

The children spent hours working with real tools - screwdrivers to be exact, taking apart the cribs!

The children managed to successfully take apart two of the cribs. Their concentration was amazing, and their excitement when the screws were removed and the pieces came apart was priceless!

I have been collecting upcycled ideas for cribs for quite some time, and now that I'm using Pinterest- I have a board of crib ideas.  Do you have any good ideas of what to do to upcycle cribs?  I'd love to hear from you!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Field Journals

If you're looking for "What Would You Do With It? Wednesday" Don't worry.... I'm bringing it back with a great line up of wonderful guest postings! We will kick it off in September with Deborah Stewart of Teach Preschool!!!! She will be sharing some great ideas with clothespins! So, get your ideas together to link up! If you are interested in writing a featured guest post, check out this post for more information.

Today, I thought I would share our "field journals" with you.  With all of the back to school buzz here in the states, you can get some great deals on supplies right now. A couple of weeks ago, I found composition books for $0.40 each! So, of course, I stocked up on them!

I thought that giving each child a journal to write in whenever they wanted would be a great way for them to work on their pre-writing/writing skills. They have access to them all of the time and have the opportunity to document whatever they choose. Sometimes they work on their journals independently, and sometimes they ask their friends for help. I have even been asked to "write" a few things down for some of the children. The children started calling the journals their "field journals."

We decorated them with stickers, and I added a pencil to each one with a piece of curling ribbon and some tape. This proved to work great for writing in the van to and from our field trips! (The ribbon keeps the pencil from falling to the floor!)
The children have always had unlimited access to a wide array of paper and writing implements, but they seem to be more engaged in the writing process now that they have their own journals!

What do you do to help promote pre-writing/writing skills? 

Sunday, August 21, 2011

"Bear With Us" The Blog Is Under Construction

Bear with us this week as the blog undergoes a number of changes! 
If you haven't noticed already, we are a dot com now!
Soon, you will be able to find things easier and the website and this blog will all be housed in one place:
There is no need to change your bookmarks, all of the old ones will redirect. 

Great Sources of Inspiration

Over the past couple of months, I have had the wonderful opportunity to meet and connect with oodles of other folks in the field of early childhood education. Both in person and online.  It has been an amazing journey of friendships, challenges, growth, and excitement!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Perfecting "Blowing the Cork!"

I've been having a fantastic time meeting early childhood educators and professionals all over the U.P. of Michigan! One of my most popular training sessions this summer has been "It's Not Rocket Science, but Sometimes It Feels Like It!" We have been working to break down the fear barrier that is sometimes associated with science, and to build confidence in scientific exploration.  One of the great things about this training is that participants walk away with this great kit from Learning Resources: (courtesy of the Great Start Regional Child Care Resource Center)

As much as I am loving presenting, sometimes I think that some of the children enrolled in my care could do just as good, if not a better job in teaching this topic!  They have mastered the science kit, and have been having a great time exploring extension activities.
We LOVE to play with vinegar and baking soda! One of the fun extension activities with the science kit is to blow the cork off of the flask. Now, it took me a little while to figure out how to perfect this technique..... but we finally have it down to a science ;).
First, you use the funnel to pour some vinegar into the flask. We haven't been the greatest at measuring, so just pour some in so that you have about an inch in the bottom of the flask.
Then fill the cork about 1/2 way with baking soda.
Then..... here is the most important step..... place a cotton ball in the top of the cork. This is going to keep the reaction from happening too fast and will allow you place the cork on the flask before the reaction starts.

Place the cork on top of the flask. Gently tap it until the cotton ball falls down into the vinegar. Step back and wait......

Of course, our "playing" with vinegar and baking soda did not end with cork blowing......

We made quite a few baggie bombs..... and another giant dinosaur volcano........
Each and every dinosaur needed to be placed just right before the volcano erupted!
 The oozing lava looked so inviting.... that.....  the children wondered..... what does it feel like?
I don't know..... let's find out!

What kind of explorations have you been trying with children?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

New "Blocks"

My friend Sue, the Great Start Regional Resource Center, 4c of the UP Community Childcare Specialist for Menominee, Schoolcraft, and Delta Counties gave me a wonderful bag of treasures the other day!  A big bag of wide cardboard tubes!
I was going to add them to the tinkering station, but the children had other ideas! (Don't they always?) They thought that they would be perfect in the block area. They had a lot of fun building pyramids, castles with holes/windows, and fences for their critters!
I thought for sure that the tubes would turn into tunnels... but not today..... instead, they were:
NEW EARS! (Fantastic for listening, might I add!)

Hours and hours of FREE fun!

Thanks Sue!

Do you have a great idea for re-using, re-purposing, and/or upcycling "trash"? I'd love to have you share it in a guest post!  Starting in September, I will be featuring great "What Would You Do With It?" Wednesday guest posts every Wednesday. Are you interested? Stop on over to this post to learn more!

Friday, August 12, 2011

New Pets

In addition to our pet dog Scooby, we always seem to have some sort of critter around here....... 
 We have borrowed bunnies from the farm.......
We have borrowed and hatched chickens.
We have collected Monarch eggs and caterpillars... borrowing them for a short time to observe
and then we release the butterflies. (You will find oodles of posts about our caterpillar and butterfly experiences if you use the search box!)
We have raised frogs from eggs
The children absolutely love observing and interacting with the animals. So, after we completed our recent frog life cycle observations, we decided it was time for some new "pets."

We filled our aquarium up with water and let it sit for a few days to stabilize before we took a trip to the store for some fish! Now, when we were at the store, Dane decided that it would be cool to get some Neon Glo-Fish (danios) and some Zebra Danios.  It was difficult to decide, and we had to make sure that the fish we chose would be able to live peacefully together.

He also picked out a "freshwater" fiddler crab for our tank. Now, I am not going to tell you where we bought our first fish and crab..... but we were misinformed. Upon some basic research, fiddler crabs are not fully aquatic, and they do not survive for more than 3-4 months in fresh water. The store we purchased them from is a big box store and they are selling "freshwater" fiddler crabs and keeping them fully aquatic. If you happen to buy one, please make sure to do your research and provide the proper habitat for your critters!
So, rather than having one aquarium, we now have two.....

 The first one is a freshwater tank with our fish and snails.......
 The second has brackish water, a mix of sand and gravel and provides a "beach" where the fiddler crabs can bask under the aquarium light. They certainly do love to move the gravel around and to spend time in both the water and on land.  We have been learning a lot about fiddler crabs. Did you know that you can tell the difference between males and females by the claws? The males have one large claw. You will find both left and right clawed male fiddlers.... AND when they molt, they switch!

These little critters have definitely been busy, and they certainly do keep us entertained!

After our first fish, we took a trip to the pet store where we found all kinds of other critters!!!
Our friends had fun checking out the wide array of fish and other pets they had for sale.
We saw a lot of different pets, but stuck to our plan and filled our tank with fish and snails, So we bought some fresh water snails, some tetras, and some painted glass fish.

What critters do you have for your children to observe?
Check out this great post about children and pets over at the Seeds Network.

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...