Thursday, May 30, 2013

Developing Fine Motor Skills with Chenille Stem Sculptures

Awhile back, I was once again inspired by 

This simple contraption is made with pegboard, pvc pipe and duct tape. It isn't exactly the same as the one that Tom built, but it serves the same purpose. During sensory table play- It gives the children another level to play- and all of the holes in the peg board cause whatever substance to fall through.  Hours of great learning fun and exploration! 

When we build contraptions like this- I tend to try to think about as many ways as possible to utilize them. You can change up the material in your sensory table- I bet this would be fabulous with sand- colored rice- I bet you could even squish play dough through it! 

At the UP Early Childhood Conference, I put a big glop of flubber/slime on top of it and let it sit. The stringy ooze was fun to watch and provides a great visual! (Photo courtesy of Lisa Murphy aka The Ooey Gooey Lady)

Most of the slime came off- but some of it hardened in the holes of the apparatus.  So... I thought- what could we put through those holes to open them back up? 

Chenille Stems! (Pipe Cleaners!!!!!)

We didn't use the contraption in the table this time. Instead, I just placed it on the floor with our big bin of chenille stems/pipe cleaners. 

It did not take long for one child to figure out how to put the stems through the holes.... and then another, and another....  until we had a whole group of children concentrating on adding stems to the work of art. 

Some of the children worked hard to try to get the stems to fall straight through to the bottom while others worked to bend them to keep them in place.

Some of the children worked from the top-
Others thought it would be fun to work from the bottom.

Some of our younger friends had a hard time figuring out how to put the stems in.....

 But they sure had fun pulling them out! 

Friday, May 24, 2013

Exploring the U.P. of Michigan- Love Where You Live!

Sunset over Lake Michigamme on the beach at Van Riper State Park
I was born and raised in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, that makes me a "Yooper" (pronounced  You-Per). I am originally from just outside of Houghton, but we currently live in Marquette.  When this opportunity arose to participate in the Love Where You Live series, how could I resist!  There are so many places and activities that I could share, but I thought I would focus on a few of our favorites in the U.P.

First, I think it is important to mention that the Upper Peninsula is a large area to cover. There are 15 counties, and covers 16,452 square miles.   Depending on which area of the U.P. you are visiting, there could be a wide range of other options!

 In the Keweenaw Peninsula- you will find Copper Harbor.  The drive up to this small town is breathtaking.  On the way to the town you can drive along the lake through Eagle Harbor. On the way if you take M-26, 
you will find a great spot to stop for a sweet treat at the Jampot.  You can opt to drive 2 different routes to enjoy the scenery.

 On top of Brockway Mountain you can see Canada.  There is also a historic fort you can visit- Fort Wilkins. There are many waterfalls and hiking opportunities. You can also catch a ferry to Isle Royale or enjoy a sunset cruise. There are a number of restaurants and tourist shops to visit. Our favorite restaurant is the Harbor Haus- featuring German-American cuisine. Copper Harbor also still has a one room school house!

The northern part of the Upper Peninsula is bordered by Lake Superior- the largest fresh water lake in the world (by surface area). You can visit various beaches on the lake- our favorites include:

Misery Bay (just outside of Toivola)
North Canal Township Park - "The Breakers"  (Stanton Township- just outside of Houghton)
Little Presque Isle (just outside of Marquette) 

One of our favorite places to go fishing is near Arnheim- on the river near Otter Lake. 

Our favorite place to go camping is at Van Riper State Park. 
Van Riper is in Michigamme- the town where they reintroduced moose into the area. If you are lucky- you might just see a moose wandering in the woods. We have never seen one while camping at Van Riper, but we have been fortunate enough to see a couple while driving back and forth between Houghton and Marquette. We saw this one on the side of the road just a few weeks ago:

Locally- we really like to visit Lakenenland-
 a sculpture park just outside of Marquette on highway M-28. 
All of the sculptures are made from scrap iron- and they are truly works of art!

If you happen to be in the Munising area- 
The Pictured Rocks National Lake shore is a definite place to visit.  
The boat tours are AMAZING! 
The various colors in the rock are breathtaking- 
the camera really does not do it justice. 

On the eastern end of the peninsula- you will find "The Mighty Mac" or Mackinac Bridge. St Ignace offers a number of touristy attractions- we like to play putt-putt golf

A short ferry ride from St Ignace will take you to Mackinac Island- there are no motor vehicles allowed on the island, you can get around on a horse driven carriage, on foot, or by bicycle.

If you are looking for some seasonal activities-

Generally- winter means a lot of snow! There is a Winter Carnival with incredible snow statues at Michigan Technological University in Houghton.

There are also a couple of sled dog races in the area.
Marquette hosts the UP200- and the Keweenaw Peninsula hosts the Copper Dog.
There is also a lot of opportunity for sledding, snowmobiling, snowshoeing, cross country skiing, etc.

In the summer- Chassell hosts an annual Strawberry Festival. We highly recommend picking fresh strawberries at the Crane Berry Farm (owned by Amy's aunt and uncle) and blueberries at the Gierke Berry Farm (no direct affiliation- they just have a great farm for blue berry picking!) During the month of August- you can almost guarantee to find a county fair!

There are oodles of other amazing places and things to do in the U.P.
Do you have a favorite place or activity?
We would love to hear about it!

What Is Cool About Where We Live...

If you are looking for more information about Marquette- the children in our care came up with a great list of what is cool about where we live a couple of years ago. You can read more about that here.

Are you looking for some other posts in the Love Where You Live Series? 

Atlanta with Kid takes us on a tour of Atlanta
Jersey Family Fun shares the great attractions in New Jersey
Manasota Family Fun shows us the Suncoast of Florida
Super Suburbs showcases the kids fun near Chicago
What's Doing? Tampa Bay introduces us to sunny fun in Tampa Bay
Nothing if Not Intentional highlights family travels in Indiana
Meet Penny introduces us to the Alabama Gulf Coast
Adventures in Wunderland highlights some fun in Southern California
 KC Edventures shows us places to discover in Kansas City Missouri & Kansas

Do you have a great post about fun things to do in your local area? I'd love to hear about it- please take a moment to link it up below!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Spring/Summer Vacation

Bear with us....

Spring has finally sprung.

We have been busy cleaning up the outdoor play space, planting our garden- including a new berry batch with strawberries and thornless raspberries...

We have been spending quite a bit of time outside- and the camera has not been joining us quite as much as normal! 

Also- this Friday we go on vacation for 3 weeks- and we have been preparing! 

So- enjoy your spring/beginning of summer. 

We will be back-- we may even post a bit from Denmark!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Making Moon Mud!

We usually make our moon sand with cornstarch, sand, and baby oil. However a blog reader commented that when they make their moon sand- they use water instead of oil.  So, of course, my first thought was- why make moon sand when you could make MOON MUD? 

And so you have it- our homemade moon mud!

Basically, it ends up being a sandy- runny oobleck!
It acts kind of like a solid-
and kind of like a liquid.....

Now, I'm sure I will get all kinds of questions on the exact recipe and proportions to make this stuff.....  The truth is, we rarely measure. We just mix it up until it looks and feels about right!

Today, we made ours with too much water. (It was an experiment.)
So, we removed some off the top. 

After we were done playing in the mud- we let it sit.
A little bit more of the water evaporated while we napped....

Then, this afternoon- It was perfect!
Hard as a rock on the bottom, until you dig into grab it...
Then.... OOOOOZE!

Perfect Moon Mud!

Here are a few tips for you if you decide to try making moon mud:

1) Follow the recipe for moon sand found here. Except instead of oil- use water.

2) Add a little bit of water at a time until you get the perfect consistency! It is always easier to add more water than it is to take water away!

Plan on hours of messy fun!

If you do try to make moon mud, we'd love to hear about it!

What is your favorite messy activity? 

Monday, May 6, 2013

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...