Holiday Shopping

Yes, I know that it is September. Year after year I find myself shopping earlier and earlier. This probably has something to do with the fact that my extended family seems to be growing larger and larger year after year. On top of that, my children’s birthdays fall within two months after Christmas. Their half-sister’s birthday is two days before my oldest daughter’s, and one of their cousin’s birthdays is two days before that. What with all of these holidays so close together, every year I find myself feeling proud for starting so early and accomplishing so much.

So this past week I’ve been thinking more and more about the holidays coming up. I have a niece who’s birthday is less than a month away, so it seems to be a great time to start thinking about it. I have been on Amazon all day looking at toys. I always start looking for my youngest daughter, because she’s the easiest one for me to shop for. Her room is full of My Little Ponies and Littlest Pet Shop animals, among other things, so this is what I started looking at.

But as I was looking, trying to find toys that she would be interested in playing with, it hit me: She doesn’t play with hardly any of those toys regularly. They sit in her room until she decides to drag them out, and even then they don’t really get played with. Not in the way I remember playing with toys, anyway. Those toys don’t have any capacity to spark her imagination, and therefore they sit in her room, not being played with.

So I am going in a much different with my Christmas shopping this year. I am going to be buying science kits and building blocks. I have geoboards on my Amazon wish list for Christmas this year. I found some kind of a fairy garden kit, which is great because a lot of the blog posts I look at on a regular basis talk about making fairy gardens. We can take this kit and expand on it with ideas from those blog posts.

I am giving people that I usually buy for a heads-up that this year won’t be about action figures, video games, and all of the stuff that you usually see on tv commercials. This year will be about toys that make children think, toys that they need to use their imaginations with. I will also be asking people that shop for my kids to use these guidelines when shopping for my kids – no more of the same old, same old commercially produced garbage that doesn’t require children to do much but manipulate pieces around and talk for them. This year it will be all about stimulating imagination and creativity.

This has been your warning.

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The Christmas Collage

I had made several colorful collage materials available to the children for their Christmas collage, including Christmas cards from years past (I just cut the back flap off of them and let the kids cut them up as they saw fit). So after a week’s worth of glue, pom-poms, sequins, and cut-up Christmas cards, we had a finished class collage. I wish I had a picture of it. The sequins were a hit, so the collage is very sparkly.

Other than that, it was a very slow day in our classroom. I pretty much let the kids play so that I could observe and get new ideas for projects. I also tried to figure out what I am going to do with my now-empty “Little People” table. I put some colored rice on the table, with the intent for it to be used for “writing” in, but the kids had other ideas; in thirty minutes the majority of the rice was on the floor. I am now trying to figure out how to incorporate the table into my studio area.

Tomorrow: Gingerbread ornaments and painting with primary colors. It will be wonderful to go into the day with projects planned!

Bug Stew

This afternoon when I took the class outside, there was water on the slides. This presented a great opportunity for the kids to throw every kind of greenery, mulch, dried leaves, and dirt onto the slide, and stir the entire concoction up with sticks. The dirt, by the way, was salt. When I asked them what they were making, they stated that it was “bug stew” because it was too nasty for us to eat, but the bugs would come and eat it up. When asked what kinds of bugs were going to eat it, they replied, “Bees and beetles!” So apparently the bees and beetles are going to be well fed tonight! I enjoyed watching the kids work together to make their concoction, though, and the thought process that went into deciding that only bugs would be crazy enough to eat the mess!

We did another color mixing activity, in which we mixed red, blue, and yellow playdough in different combinations to see what we would get. They had fun with that, even though I made the playdough a little too stiff for them to mix very well. After we mixed the basic combinations, I let them go to mix away in whatever combinations they wanted to. Of course, they loved that.

I did an art project this morning that I once again can’t give proper credit to for the idea. I thought I had saved the post in my reader this time. I feel like this is getting old and I need to apologize for it! But anyway…the project required coffee filters, water colors, and medicine droppers. We used water colors in red, green, silver, and gold so that the project would be somewhat Christmas-y. The kids basically just put drops of paint on the coffee filters, and the filters soak up the water (as long as the kids don’t use too much – if they do, it is a bit of a mess!). I found that trying to teach them how to control the flow of paint coming from the dropper was a bit of a challenge, but it gives us something to work on the next time we use the droppers. A few of the kids discovered how to control the flow of the paint, but not many.After the paint dried the colors on the filters were amazing, especially with the silver and gold paint mixed in.

Right before I started this project, the other three-year-old teacher set about working on a Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer project. You know the one: three popsicle sticks glued together in a triangle shape, a red pom-pom nose on the bottom of the triangle and two eyes at the top. She had started the project with both of our classes while I was out yesterday morning, so I couldn’t very well take my class and not let them finish. I pulled out my project to do at the same time because of the amazing amount of stuff I had planned for all of them to do in the afternoon. As soon as I got the materials together, the reindeer table cleared out and headed to the coffee filter table. In fact, the whole room was gathered around the coffee filter table. And I thought to myself, “Here is a prime example of why child-directed art is so much better than the typical cookie-cutter, ‘everything has to be the same and look like this’ type of art that is done in most centers – the kids actually enjoy it and flock to it!”