Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Ice Play

We continue our study of winter, the subtle changes of the elements and the wonderful transformations of water. Foreseeing that we were going to have some extreme temperatures, I thought it would be a good time to make some ice of our own.

We gathered a few containers from the recycling bin and interesting shaped ones from our drawers. When I asked how we would get the water outside, Lucia thought of using her watering cans. (These have come in handy for bath time, too!)

And voila, we watered our containers and added a little food coloring. We also brought out some of the treasures we gathered during our fall nature walks. We noticed that for the most part pine cones and acorns float. Sticks became a handle “like for popsicles,” she said.


We also discovered that there were already some other containers filled with ice; a pot with a frozen plant and our wonderful sensory play container, which we turned around and ended up with a great BIG block of ice.

We checked on the water a few times over the next hours, and day. “It takes a long time for them to freeze!” she said. “Hmm, maybe it’s not cold enough,” she added. When the water finally froze, the temperature was a little too cold for us.


Finally, this afternoon, at a balmy 30 ° (Fahrenheit, mind you! about -2 Celsius) we braved the elements and went out to play with the ice. We hung the muffin tin ones to make a mobile.

We made sculptures and discovered how tricky it can be to move ice around. “It is SO slippery,” said the little one. 


We also brought out the play animals to skate on the big block of ice. That brought about a lot of pretend play and discussion around skills on the ice.

Finally, the most exciting part was to stand on the big block of ice and pretend to conduct an orchestra, like the little boy on the internet.

The ice is waiting for us outside for more explorative play. If you live in an area that happens to be warm right now, perhaps you could freeze the water in the freezer, and get a nice relief from the heat. As for us, we will continue to enjoy our winter!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Vermont, Snow Dinosaurs and Box Town

As a family, we have made a strong commitment to spending time in nature, so every chance we get we go to the country, the forest or the beach. We spent this past weekend in Vermont with some dear French Canadian friends. It was the perfect balance between family time, friendship, outdoors adventures, indoors time, language and culture.

 We spent most of our time outside sledding or playing with the snow. The children wanted to make snow people, but we soon discovered the snow was too fluffy. We then set our eyes on the two large piles left by the plow on the side of the driveway. They looked just like dinosaurs! So, given the children’s interest in these ancient creatures, we set to work.

Behind the brachiosaurus was a second pile. After much debate, the group decided to make a stegosaurus. Climbing on top of the dinosaurs meant great effort, and soon became the main purpose of the project. The children explored climbing, finding safe ways to come down and challenged themselves by walking into the deeper snow behind the dinosaurs. After a prolonged time of play, with exhausted bodies and satisfied minds, we went inside for some well deserved lunch.

The following day Mother Nature gifted us with some more snow; which meant we needed to find creative ways to play inside. Well, my friend is a crafty Momma, who has put some boxes to good use. With the help of her son, they have spent the past two years building a town by connecting all the boxes. They carved out windows, decided on where the doors should go, decorated with construction paper and glue, and even made some frescoes in the inside. It is the perfect place for dramatic play, painting, architectural design and wonder! Not to mention the amount of physical play the children enjoyed.

All of the planning, creative process and play were accompanied by much discussion. We talked about the animals that live in the area and the sounds we might hear at night. We also had many conversations about language, comparing words from the different languages we spoke. Our little ones did not blink an eye at the use of and fluid transition from French to Spanish to English. 

In our last conversation my friend asked me if her son would be well prepared for kindergarten after not attending preschool. With a little window into this boy’s life, what do you think?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

My Family Plays Music

We found this wonderful gem at the library. I brought it home because I thought it would be nice for us to talk about being a musical family. There are instruments in every corner of our house. We play music, listen to music and tell stories using musical instruments. Little did I know, it was going to take us on a musical journey.

“With everyone in her family making music, this spunky girl can’t help but join in!” reads the description on the sleeve of the book. In each page she shares all the instruments and kinds of music each member of her family plays.  Mom plays fiddle in a country-and-western band, and she joins in with the tambourine. Dad plays cello in a string quartet, and she joins in with the triangle.

We started with a first read and let it sink in. Lucia enjoyed all of the family ties and commented on all the different relations. Then she started asking questions. What is a quartet? What is polka? So we went on an iTunes hunt and listened carefully to the different styles of music, as we read the book a little more closely.

Country-and-western, string quartet, marching band, rock’ n’ roll, jazz, big band, bluegrass, polka, pipe organ in church, bongos with poetry that doesn’t rhyme, and good old pots and pans were a source for exploration and dance. I did not know my little one had all of those moves in her! With every step she let loose, and found a way to link it to something she already knew. String quartet was soft and inspired ballet music. Blue grass sounded like “farm music” and made her bounce.

We then decided to see how many of the instruments we saw in the book we could find in our house. Our collection is not too bad! But the best of all, I dug out our pots and pans and some wooden spoons and KABOOM! Lucia enjoyed making noise and comparing metal sounds to wooden sounds.

She finished in a prolonged session of pretend play, making soup for all her stuffed animals!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Snow and watercolor spray

I love watercolor! You can paint, drip, drop, dip, and even spray with it!

Today, as we were running out of ideas and the sun was setting we ran outside to paint the snow. I had been thinking about it for a while and chose the colors carefully. We avoided yellow, as to not duplicate the dogs’ art, and red in order to not alarm any pedestrians. Purple, green and blue were our colors of choice. We used watered-down liquid watercolor, but I am sure food coloring would do. 

 We armed ourselves with a couple of pairs of gloves, for comfort and as a backup, but started with our bare hands in order to have more control. We learned that angle and spray style brought different effects.

A long squirt was good for drawing and a short spray good for coloring. We also noticed how the sun brought sparkles to our paintings and talked about shade and light. 

Here are two samples of our work:

Eventually, we grew tired of spraying and noticed some interesting animal prints in the snow. We concluded they belonged to a squirrel.  Then we grabbed big sticks and made lines as we walked, just like Peter in The Snowy Day.

We hope to spray paint snow people next and try out other tools and paints. Can’t wait for the next snowstorm!



I am a Mama to a 3 and ¾ year old (this is what she told me today!) working part time and spending as much time as possible enjoying my daughter’s magical childhood years. I am also an early childhood educator, with a passion for learning from children, spending time in nature and exploring the arts. I have started this blog as a creative outlet and to be a part of the amazing community of bloggers who share and trade their ideas for creating meaningful experiences for children. There was nothing like this when I first started teaching a few years ago and I cannot describe how exciting it is to find a wealth of communication and camaraderie through this world of ours. May the fun begin!