Explore your neighborhood or back yard if available and find leaf or petals, then once inside have fun with these 5 activities

  1. SORTING:  Ask the children to sort the leaves and petals any way they want and then explain to the other children what their sorting rule was. (For example, one child might sort by color while another sorts by shape).
  2. COUNTING:  Count the leaves and petals that each child has collected, or the number of leaves or petals in each category from the sorting activity above.
  3. RUBBING: Create leaf rubbing by placing paper on top of a leaf with the vein side up and using the side of a peeled crayon to rub over the leaf onto the paper and reveal the vein pattern.
  4. PRESSING: Have children arrange leaves and petals on a piece of waxed paper and place another sheet of waxed paper over the top.  A grown up can use an iron to press the waxed paper pieces together sealing the leaves inside.  (Clear contact paper could also be used).
  5. CREATING: Children can glue leaves and petals to paper in arrangements that look like insects, animals, birds, or whatever they imagine.  They can use markers to add details to their creation.

 

Yes, it’s cold outside, but that can lead to some amazing fun. Research shows it is healthy to get outside and get some fresh air. It’s actually unhealthy to stay inside all day where viruses can be spread easily. With the right clothing, getting outside can support immune systems, creative play, encourage collaboration, and prompt some really great science discussions. Check out these photos to see some fun in the cold!

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Illinois Early Learning Standards:

12.C   Explore the physical properties of objects.

12.F   Explore changes related to the weather and seasons.

Do you have a fence in your yard?

If you do, you can give children yarn, fabric scraps, streamers, paper strips, and more, to create a weaving in the fence.  After children have a chance to explore and get the idea about how to weave the material in the fence openings, you can encourage them to create patterns or scenes.

Goal: Children will refine fine motor skills while creating a pattern through weaving.

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Make homemade bubble solution with liquid dish soap and water.  Start with a cup of water and a tablespoon or two of dish soap (Dawn seems to be the most popular choice for making bubble solution) and mix.  You can add a little corn syrup or dissolve some sugar in the water to make the bubbles last longer.  You can use wands you already have or children can create their own with pipe cleaners or flexible wire.

Goal: Children will experiment with creating bubbles that are different sizes and observe changes from the bubble solution to bubbles to bubbles as they pop.

 

 

Looking for a new way to support outdoor play?  Chantelle Simmons, owner of Under the Oak Tree, sent these ideas for organizing natural materials and creating a play kitchen outside.

“We placed small metal buckets in plant pot holders on the railing to organize our natural materials.  We change what are in the buckets quite often.  In the picture, there are different types of stones.  We also use them to hold acorns, pinecones, seed pods, as well as a variety of other natural materials.  We also re-worked an area making it into a kitchen-like environment.  We have more plans to extend this area.  We have hung garden hose baskets on the wall to hold watering cans, tools, and kitchen items.”

Fill a bucket or other container with water and give toddlers a variety of different types of paintbrushes.  Have children paint with the water on the sidewalk or even on a wooden fence.  They can paint shapes, letters, pictures, or even just cover the whole space.  It can be interesting to watch how the sun dries the water painting and then they can do it all over again!

A container garden can be a great way to garden when space is limited and also a great way to get children started with gardening.  Taking part in the process from seed to plate is a great learning opportunity for children, and might even get picky eaters to try something new that they have helped to grow themselves!  This resource gives tips for how to create a garden of edibles, from choosing containers to selecting the kinds of edible plants you would like to grow.  There are links to many other resources to support this activity.

Growing Edibles in Containers Handout

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Celebrate Earth Day by doing something good for the earth with the children in your care.  These Town Square resources are some possibilities for using recyclables or taking advantage of nature.

Create a Container Garden

Nature Explore

Creative Projects Using Recyclables

Painting with Recyclables

Loose Parts Play

The Calming Effects of Art and Nature

Nature Explore is a collaboration between the Arbor Day Foundations and Dimensions Educational Research Foundation. They support the development of outdoor classrooms and nature play for schools, centers, and family child care homes. They also have materials to support outdoor play for families which is appropriate for family child care providers.  Check out their free Nature Explore Families’ Club Kit.  You can see all the Nature Explore resources for families here.

Daycare Outdoor Play 5-7-14 (50)henry binoculars

This space is used for a gathering area for the kids (or a fort/playhouse).

I went to Menards to look for ways to create a natural play house (since I gave away my two plastic little tykes houses). I originally planned to do an arch hut that I saw on Pinterest using a garden arch but when I saw the prices, I just kept walking. I then came up with the idea of using garden trellis, stakes and bamboo fencing. The garden trellis was an accordion type (pictured below), so it can expand to whatever size you want. I already had the rubber pavers, so decided to make it around those and that’s how I determined my size.

Step 1: Hammer the stakes into the ground. (I purchased 4 foot stakes with the rubber coating so they wouldn’t rust). If your sides are long, you would need a stake for each corner and then a stake for each wall for support.

Step 2: Zip tie the accordion fence to the stakes

Step 3: Zip tie bamboo fence on three sides of the structure.

Step 4: Trim off excess bamboo to the height you want the structure to be.

Step 5: Place garden stakes on top to support the bamboo roof. Make sure to measure the width of your structure to know what size stakes to get. I rested them on top of the accordion fence and zip tied them in place.

Step 6: Lay the bamboo fence on top and zip tie it down.

Tip: Measure your space first so you have an idea of how many materials you will need.

Tip: You will need a lot of zip ties to make it sturdy. I purchased natural colored zip tie.

Tip: I did purchase an outdoor rug to place on top of the rubber pavers. This gave them a little bit cozier area and makes it easier to sweep rocks off of.