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Category Archives: Outdoors

Chalk It Up!

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There are SO many ideas for chalk these days other than just drawing with sidewalk chalk.  You may need to think outside the box and bit or search the internet, Pinterest is my favorite way to do this!  Inside projects can be done with chalk paint to make chalk walls, boards or even turn old board books into mini chalk board books.  You can always practice writing or just draw with chalk on dark construction paper too.DSCN0444

We decided to take some chalk ideas outside and see what happened.  Not all the ideas worked quite like I thought, but the girls had a great time exploring anyway.  Here are a few ideas we tried:

– Paint Chalk: just crush broken chalk pieces and add water (lots of chalk and not too much water or it softens the colors)

– Playing Games with sidewalk chalk

-Drawing on objects other than sidewalk such as rocks, tree bark, etc

– Spray chalk: combine flour, color and warm water in a squirt bottle ( I recommend using liquid watercolors or a lot of food coloring.  We used neon with about 10 drops, but it was not as bright as we hoped.)

– Exploding Chalk Bags: combine cornstarch, vinegar and color in Ziplock bag.  Once outside add a paper towel folded up with baking soda inside the bag and close.  Stand back and watch!  (our first attempt leaked through tiny hole and didn’t pop bag)DSCN0459

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Literacy Outdoors

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With the absolutely wonderful weather that we have been having lately, now is a perfect time to go outside and enjoy nature.  However, even when enjoying nature, plenty of language practice can take place!  A wonderful blog: www.famigliaandseoul.blogspot.com provides an wonderful example of how to incorporate nature, outdoors, and literacy all in one.  A way to get your toddler or preschooler enjoying all that the outdoors has to offer is to create an outdoor literacy bag.  You can keep this bag right beside your door, that way all you have to do is grab it and go! The following are two examples of what you might want to include in your outdoor literacy bag to get started.  Just remember the possibilities are endless!

One example is when you and your child are outside is to have a bird literacy bag.  Birds and the sounds that they make are everywhere.  In the bag include age-appropriate books about birds that catches the attention of your child.  You can also include a pair of kid-sized binoculars so that they can experiment with them while you walk around your neighborhood looking for birds.  Also, to be able to observe them, you will need to include pencils, crayons, and paper on a clipboard to draw the birds that they see.  To attract the birds, include a small bag of Cheerios or other small cereal and string to make bird feeders to hang on trees.  For older children, you can even include a bird identification book to look up the names and pictures of various birds that you see.

In the second bag, how about learning about bugs?  Include books about bugs (touch and feel books are great for this).  A bug catcher, magnifying glass, and tweezers are perfect for looking for small bugs around your neighborhood.  Also, to be able to observe them, you will need to include pencils, crayons, and paper on a clipboard to draw their bug creations.  Plastic bugs are also great to introduce the names of various bugs and to sort them by color, size, insect, or how they move (crawling, flying, jumping).    Homemade play dough can also be added to this bag to help your child begin to create their own 3D bugs.

These bags are just two examples of what you and your child can explore outdoors.  However, the choices are endless.  The most important thing to remember is to follow the interest of what your child enjoys doing outdoors and create a bag that will extend on this interest. 

 

Blowing Bubbles!

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I thought for those of you who were unable to join us at Bubble Bonanza, I would share some of the many bubble ideas we did and found.  Summer is a great time  to head outside and blow some bubbles!  These days there are so many things you can find to do with bubble mixtures and you don’t have to buy the tiny bubble filled bottles at the store, you can just make your own solution and even add colors or scents to it too.  The bubble solution we used was just water with dish soap and we experimented with the amount of soap to add depending on which activity we were trying to do; glycerin helps the bubbles from popping so easily too.  Adding color makes for bubble art and color or scents create more sensory experiences for children. DSCN0230

Bubble Snakes uses recyclable materials from around the house to creates a line of bubbles.  We just cut a plastic water bottle in the middle and you can attach a washcloth with rubber band or hook a sock around the bottle which is now a large hole.  Dip the cloth covered bottle into bubble solution and blow out of the top of water bottle.  See how long your snake can get!  Experiment with various sizes of bottles or try adding colors to bubbles.

DSCN0244 We searched our homes high and low to find different objects with any type of holes or slits in them.  We then experimented to see if we could blow bubbles with any of them.  Another idea would be to have children have a chart to see if it did blow bubbles or didn’t or even which ones worked best, blew biggest bubble, blew most bubbles, etc.  We used items such as canning rings, fly swatters, slotted spoons, strainers and much more.  We liked the giant flyswatters and the Styrofoam plates with center cut out the best!DSCN0251

 The other stations we had were:

 ~ the human bubble with hula hoops and baby pool to try to get inside the bubble!  We used lots of soap for this one!!

 ~pipe cleaner bubble wands and refill station; the children could try different ways to make wands with pipe cleaners and then tested them out.  We used an empty laundry detergent container with the side spout button as a refill station for the children to get more bubble solution.

~ bubble art canvas with colored bubbles to blow on paper and create art as they popped!

All of the other ideas we had found our on the Bubble pin board on our Pinterest.    And remember to let the children explore and engage as they want, if they are not hurting anyone let them go at it!

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Aesthetically Pleasing Playground

As I have been talking about the environment, I also want to encourage everyone to think about not only the inside classrooms but the outdoor environment as well.  I have been searching the internet for ideas to transform our current new space to an inviting play opportunity for our little friends. 

Most of the playground equipment and materials are made of primary colored plastic; but I want to try not to use too much of that and am looking for a more natural approach.  I still want the children to be able to explore, play and have fun but would like to set up the play space to invite the children to do these on their own on the playground. 

A few thoughts I have are to use tree stumps and large rocks along with plants and flower pots to create natural barriers.  Maybe some stumps as seats and small table, an area for sand play or other sensory experiences with various tools.  I took a few “Before” photos of our space and have searched a few ideas; now to actually find the items in my Pinterest pins and create the awesome space I am envisioning in my mind! 

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Before Photos

What are some of your playground ideas or photos to share your spaces?   I would love to hear and see them as I work on getting our space ready for the “After” photos, which are still to come.

COOL ideas for HOT days: Ice Chalk

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Summer is in full swing and boy is it HOT around here!  The rain has gone away but now almost too hot and humid to play outside.  I have compiled a list of some ice activities that we have done in the past and we explored a few this week too.  Some not turning out the way people had posted but the children still loved them all anyways; who doesn’t like playing with ice when it feels like 100 out?

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The one we tried yesterday was Ice Chalk.  We mixed it up and put in freezer after breakfast and it was ready to go after nap, so we headed outside with our bowl of ice chalk shapes and they went to work.  Very easy to make; mix half water and half cornstarch with some food coloring.  Dish soap was suggested to help with washing away later, so we added some of that too.  I did find that even after mixing in bowl and again once in trays, the cornstarch seemed to settle at bottom making it not work quite as promised.  You could also add Kool-Aid or other scented items to add some more sensory or use the homemade Popsicle holder too.

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Once outside the side with more cornstarch seemed to “write” in color better.  The children loved played with it and watching the ice slide and melt into bright colors all over the sidewalk!  They even began experimenting to see if they stacked them if the melted water would change color as it mixed.  All the icy fun was gone fast as the HOT day melted it away quicker than they had hoped.  The end result was a beautiful work of art!

  • Ice Paint: mix shaving cream with color and ice cubes or shaved ice, you can also add scents or glitter for various effects.  Gives a different painting effect and is cool sensory experience on hot days.
  • Ice Treasures: freeze water and small objects in a bowl and allow the children to break open or sprinkle salt to get to treasures. Dogs like this too on hot days!
  • Glass Ice:  freeze colored water in balloons and then peel off balloon.  The balls of ice look like colored glass and the kids love it!
  • Ice Boats: before freezing water add straws or sticks, when frozen you can add paper sails to make boats and play with in pool or sensory table and even have boat races!
  • All of these ideas can be found on our Pinterest account,  Inspirations ELC on Seasonal Board

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