Friday, January 24, 2014

The Ultimate Guide to Chalk

ultimate chalk

Today I'm joining in with Craftulate

and 49 other bloggers  from the Kid Blogger Network

to bring you the next in the series:


The Ultimate Guide to Chalk!

We aren't chalk experts around here- but we sure do love to experiment with it!

Some of our favorite experiences include:

We also like to make sidewalk paint- some people call it sidewalk chalk paint- It is made with household ingredients and washes easily away! (Find the recipe here). We love to add color to our sidewalks. Sometimes we:

Are you looking for another Ultimate Guide? Hop on over to the Series Landing Page Hosted by Craftulate or if you are as much of a Pinterest Lover as I am.... Hop on over to the Series Board:

ultimate board

The only way that this post will be the "ultimate" resource about chalk is through your help and collaboration! Please share your chalk activities by linking up below! I'll return the favor by pinning your activities to my Ultimate Guide to EVERYTHING  Chalk Pinterest Board!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014


Yes, we do climb up the slide.

We climb up the slide here at Child Central Station in the backyard...

climb slide 7

We climb up the slides when we are at the park.....

and here are a few reasons why we think you could reconsider climbing up and allowing the children in your care to climb up the slide too!

1. Climbing up the Slide uses MUSCLE!

 Young children need to be active and climbing up the slide requires a lot of muscle and coordination. It is not an easy feat- and requires strength, concentration, determination, and will power.

climb up the slide 3
2. Climbing up the Slide is RISKY!

Yes- climbing up the slide is potentially risky, but so is sliding down! Your job as a caregiver is to carefully observe and monitor the situation, to be close by- but not to interfere unless necessary. Part of a child's learning process must include managing risks- climbing up the slide is a perfect way to practice this skill.

climb up the slide 2
3. Climbing up the Slide involves potential CONFLICT!

It is almost inevitable that when one child decides to climb up the slide, another will want to slide down. This is the perfect opportunity for children to practice communication and conflict resolution skills. If the children are too young to do so on their own, your job as a caregiver is to help broadcast the situation and to help them resolve the conflict. If children are older- you can help them IF they need you to by asking questions.... like What is happening? Who do you need to talk to? What would you like to see happen? How can we solve this problem?

upslide 6

4. Climbing up the Slide will mostly likely cause FAILURE!

Children need to learn how to try, try, try and FAIL. They need to realize that not everything always works out the first time. Climbing a slide is the perfect situation for failure. Children ultimately do not make it to the top the first time. When they slide down, they have the opportunity to consider other options- come up with a plan, and continue to try until they succeed!

upslide 2

5. Climbing up the Slide encourages CREATIVITY AND COOPERATION!

Climbing up the slide is not easy, and sometimes children will need a little bit of help to reach the top. When children are faced with failure and have the skills to problem solve- they will get creative. They will find a solution- and often times utilize other tools and ask others for help.  I have seen so much growth and teamwork happen while climbing the slide!

climb up the slide

6. Climbing up the Slide also encourages SUCCESS!

Most children will eventually find success in climbing up the slide. They will experience this from their hard work and their ability to stick to it! It helps them gain a sense of pride and confidence in their own abilities.


7. Climbing up the Slide builds TRUST!

When children are allowed to do things that involve potential risk- they learn to trust in their own abilities, in their own bodies, and it shows them that the caregivers around them trust them too.  Your action of allowing the children to try tells them that you trust them to try, you trust them to succeed, and you trust them as competent problem solvers.

I hope you are ready to climb up the slide now too!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Painting with Beans

Painting with Beans

Process based art is a favorite around here- and the bookmarks we made by painting with beans is a prime example of a process based art experience with a stunning product!

bean paints 2

Basically, we took a couple of scoops of mixed beans and put them into a small container.

bean paints 4

Then we cover the beans in paint. I like to use squeeze bottles for the children to add the paint. It helps them to build up the muscles in their hands which is important for their fine motor skills.  If you are looking for some refillable squeeze bottles, click here for the (affiliate) link to order some of your own: PLASTIC EMPTY TWIST TOP Bottles.

bean paints 3

After you have covered the beans in paint, take a moment and mix them up.

bean paints 5

Then we place our paper, in this case a piece of hard cardboard into a box. This time around we used a shoe box sized plastic tote. I like to use plastic boxes for these types of projects because they are easy to clean. Here is an (affiliate) link to the type of box we used for this project: Sterilite Storage Box, White Lid with See-Through Base.

bean paints

Then, you carefully put the lid on the container. If you noticed, we did not tape the paper down. This was intentional as we want to make sure that when we shake the box- the beans will paint both sides of the cardboard/paper.

bean paints 6

Then, you get a little bit of a workout! You get to shake the box! We usually stand up, shake, dance, and sing! Art, Music and Muscle Development all at once!

bean paints 7

When we are done shaking the beans around, we remove the paper and let it dry before adding the next color. We also scoop out all of the beans and put them back into a small container. We continue with the same steps until we have added as much paint and as many colors as we would like.  We are also careful to take our time and give the box a few minutes to dry between colors. (This prevents the colors from mixing).

Bean Bookmark

 Our final works of art can be used for a wide range of things! This time around, we turned our art into book marks. We simply added a hole with a punch and a tassel with a few strands of yarn.

If you are looking for some other great process art ideas you might want to check out some of the posts from our archives: (I've chosen to highlight 5- there are many, many more!)

Plunger Painting

101 Ways to Paint Without a Brush

Blow Dryer Painting

Fly Swatter Painting

Pictured Rock Inspired Paintings

Do you have a favorite process based art experience?

I'd love to hear about it!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

DIY Dinosaur Bone "Ice Age" Excavation

dinosaur excavationWith the frigid temperatures we've had outside- We decided to create an "Ice Age" excavation with some of our dinosaur bones.  I like to do this activity in the summer time too, the only difference is that I have to freeze the bones in our freezer instead of outside on our porch.

dinosaur bonesThe first thing we did to get ready was to collect some of our dinosaur bones. You don't necessarily have to have "bones" as the children will have just as much fun digging other items out of the ice.  The bones we used came from some of the excavation kits we have previously used (most of them come with a dirt or clay for you to dig through). If you dinosaur bones and you are interested in purchasing some,  here is a list  of some of the (affiliate link) Dinosaur Excavation Kits we have used in the past.  Over at P is for Preschool, they did a similar activity but used plastic dinosaurs instead of bones, you can read more about it by clicking here. 

dinosaur bones 2


To prep for the excavation I used 2 different large bowls. One was round and one was square. You can use any large container that you can add water to freeze. I recommend large bowls as it is easy to add the water and bones, but more importantly it is easy to extract the frozen ice.

I filled the bowls about 1/3 of the way with water and a little bit of food coloring. Then I added some "bones."  I placed the bowls out on my front porch to freeze. When the layer was frozen, I added another couple inches of water, a different color, and more bones. I repeated the process of freezing colored layers with bones until the bowls were completely filled. (Remember that water expands when it freezes, so leave a little bit of space in the bowl).  You don't have to add coloring to the water. My son thought it would be fun to add the colored layers like different layers of the soil or rock that bones may be found in.  It is also not necessary to freeze in layers, but without layers, all of your bones will end up on the bottom of the bowl.

When the water is completely frozen, you are ready to set up your excavation.  I ran the bottom of the bowls under hot water and the ice hunks popped right out!

I also collected some tools to add: plastic hammers, plastic knives, turkey basters, small pipettes,  and a few containers of water. (I added some salt to some of the water). Here you can see the final set up prior to the children beginning their exploration.

ice excavation

The children jumped in immediately to start excavating!

ice excavation 4

The children in our program are very accustomed to asking for what they need- and it was quickly determined that salt was needed in addition to the tools already available.

ice excavation 2After adding the salt and pounding away at the hunks of ice- some of the children started to reveal "bones"

dinosaur bones 3The children worked at the excavation site for quite some time. (I think we had it set up for about 3 hours). Some of the children were persistent in continuing to excavate bones, others came and went as they pleased.

dino excavatrion


Dinosaurs seem to be a pretty popular item of interest for young children, I know that the children are always requesting to read more about and explore dinosaurs!

Here are a few posts from fellow bloggers that may help you extend your dinosaur explorations:

Discover and Explore Dinosaur Eggs from Teach Preschool

Cardboard Dinosaurs from Powerful Mothering

A Dinosaur Dig from Teachers of Good Things

Dinosaurs for Preschool and Kindergarten from Afterschool for Smarty Pants

Dinosaur Picture Books from Beyond the Cover

Montessori Inspired Dinosaur Unit from Living Montessori Now

Dinosaur Weekend with Playdough and More from Powerful Mothering

Dinosaur Land in the Sand Table from Teach Preschool

You might also want to check out our archives for dinosaur posts! 

Dinosaur Pinterest Board

 and Our Dinosaur Board on Pinterest!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Homemade Eucalyptus Play Dough

eucalyptus play doughWe always make homemade play dough.

The tried and true recipe we use comes from an old elementary school cookbook- you can   find it in this old blog post.  The only difference is, for the eucalyptus play dough you add green food coloring and some eucalyptus oil.  (I usually add a few drops of the oil after the play dough is complete.)

eucalyptus play dough 3

The dough is soft and pliable. The children love to play with it.

Sometimes we cut it;

eucalyptus play dough 6

Sometimes we squish it.

eucalyptus play dough 4

It is the perfect play dough for days with super drippy noses!

eucalyptus play dough 2

This recipe is great for other essential oils as well.

One of my personal favorites is lavender.

Do you have a favorite type of play dough?

I'd love to hear about it!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Washing "Babies" in the Water Table

Washing Babies in the Water Table


We have a number of young children who are going to become big brothers or sisters for the first or second time over the next couple of months.  We have been reading a number of books about new babies and we have been practicing holding and caring for our baby dolls.

babies 2

As a home based childcare professional- I work with a number of families and young children as they prepare for new little ones to come into their lives. One of the biggest things I have found to help children as they become siblings is to give them an opportunity to mimic and care for their own little one.  Through children's pretend play - they work to make sense of the world, and they have an opportunity to practice and to learn.


Sometimes older siblings are still too young to be able to help with all of the tasks of taking care of a real baby, but giving them a baby doll to practice with helps them fell as though they are more of a part of what is going on.

One of the easiest and simple sensory table experiences you can set up for the children is a baby bath!

washing babies

We fill our table up with water and a little bit of soap. I usually give the children washcloths and bath puffs- and they add their baby dolls to the tub.

washing babies 3

We practice talking softly and singing to the baby. We talk about the temperature of the water, we talk about body parts- like arms, legs, fingers, and toes....  We practice gently washing our babies. Then, when the water starts to get too cold- we take the babies out and dry them off.

bubble tub

Most of the time, our babies go to sleep after they have a nice warm bath.  Some of the children still find the tub to be appealing, so we usually add a bit more warm water, some more soap, and wire whisks! Our baby bath turns into a giant bubble tub for more exploration and fun!

Do you have any great tips for helping young children welcome a new baby?

I'd love to hear about them!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Moon Mud: The Best Kids Activities of 2013 Blog Hop

I bet the suspense is killing you, so I won't keep you waiting any longer-

The TOP post,

the VERY BEST post of 2013

here at Child Central Station based upon reader views is:

number 1 2013

Make Your Own Moon Mud!

If you missed it, hop on over and check it out! I promise you won't be disappointed- hours of messy- gooey, sensory fun!

Kid Blogger Network

Today, I'm joining forces with one of the most amazing groups on the planet- The Kid Blogger Network to bring you The Very Best Kids Activities of 2013 Blog Hop! Please take a moment and "Hop Around" to check out all of the wonderful posts and activities being shared, and if you are a blogger please link up your best post of 2013 as well!

Powerful Mothering, The Good Long Road, All Done Monkey, Afterschool for Smarty Pants, B-Inspired Mama, Babble Dabble Do, Bits of Positivity, Boy Mama Teacher Mama, Caution! Twins at Play, Child Central Station, Creative Family Fun, Creative World of Varya, Cute and Peculiar, Dirt and Boogers, Edventures with Kids, The European Mama, The Eyes of a Boy, The Fairy and the Frog, Frogs and Snails and Puppy Dog Tails, Fun-A-Day!, Glittering Muffins, , Growing Book by Book, Hands on: as we grow, Here Come The Girls, iGame Mom, I Heart Crafty Things, Inspiration Laboratories, Kid World Citizen, Kiddie Foodies, Kids Yoga Stories, Kitchen Counter Chronicles, Lalymom, Lemon Lime Adventures, Let's Play Music, Living Montessori Now, Makeovers and Motherhood, Mama Smiles, Multicultural Kids Blog, My Little 3 and Me, P is for Preschooler, Peakle Pie, Pennies of Time, Playdough to Plato, PlayDrMom, Preschool Powol Packets, Racheous - Lovable Learning, Still Playing School, Smiling Like Sunshine, Stir the Wonder, Teach Me Mommy, Teach Preschool, There's Just One Mommy, Toddler Approved, True Aim Education, Tutus and Tea Parties, Where Imagination Grows, and Wildflower Ramblings.

Here's to celebrating all of the wonder in 2013

and to moving on to all that lies ahead in 2014!

Below you'll find over 50 Kid Blogger Network members coming together for The KBN Best Of 2013 Blog Hop. We know you'll find tons of wonderful ideas to browse, pin and share. We'd love for you to join the blog hop and share your favorite activity of 2013 too, and make sure you're following the Kid Blogger Network on Pinterest

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