Friday, May 29, 2015

Edible Garden of My Own

Seeds are in. (thanks, Dam Seeds
Raised beds are up (thanks Hubby!)
O has been given her first plot of land for edible gardening.
She then chose her seeds, before we soaked to start the germination process and planted square-foot-style

 Soak in Muffin Tin

The point of her plot is that it belongs to her.
We'll have a no-interference policy, so she learns her own tricks of the trade as we all develop our green thumbs side-by-side. 
We're hoping that our local chipmunks at least give pea's a chance!

The Book of Gardening Projects for Kids, by Whitney Cohen and John Fisher. I've poured through many books written with the intent to include children in gardening, through hands-on dirty endeavors as well as crafts and cooking to follow. This is by far the best I've seen of the lot. The authors are members of staff at Life Lab

Square Foot Gardening Guide. This is a simple online tool for designing your Square Foot Garden

Build a Worm Cafe. Simple and sweet worm hang-out

Edible, Butterfly, Spaghetti, Sound Gardens. Ours is 100% edible, flowers and all. But there are loads of idea's out there for creating a Butterfly-Friendly Garden, A Spaghetti Garden (basil, garlic, parsley, tomatoes etc.), Sound Garden (choosing plants and grasses based on their different soun-in-the-wind abilities). Choosing a theme is a great way to divide up your yard! 

Pollinators.  Attract birds and bee's to your garden and watch this video of a bee's beginning!

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Toddler Tales: Tables Have Turned

Very recently, Baby C earned a long-awaited gift for gab.
It was inevitable.
All the speakers in our home are constantly fighting for space to speak and Baby C was just soaking it all up, waiting for her turn.
She is literally unstoppable and adorably in-your-face about demanding your undivided attention.
I totally get it.

We love the 'why's' that can't help but fall out of a childs mouth every two minutes.
O; "Can I have a banana?"
M: "Sure."
O: "Why?"
O hasn't stopped talking since the moment she started and often continues in her sleep!

Today I stood back and watched a sweet interaction between O and the newest member of every conversation!
Baby C overheard me announce Daddy's dinner was cooked.

Baby C: "O-yi-vi-a? Fish? Ready?"
O: "Yes, Charlotte."
Baby C: " YI-VI-A! Fish? Ready?" (in her high-pitched question voice!)
O: "Yes."
(right up in O's face, in case she didn't hear clearly the first two times.)
C: "Fish? Ready? O-yi-vi-a?"
O: "Yes. I want a little rest of you! Don't ask me questions anymore!"

Baby C's other tidbits from the week...
~"Story? Read?... Story? Read?... STORY READ!!!" 

~Mama: "What's your name?"
  Baby C: "Roda?" (Rosa, our neighbour!) 
                 (whispers) "Yarlotte"

~Daddy: "What do you do with a pea?"
  Baby C: "Poo?"

~Baby C: (hugging mama's leg) "I yuv you."


Marble (Pom Pom) Run

 Exploration Tray

Tinkerlab is one of those websites I frequent on a weekly basis.
It was no surprise that Rachelle Doorley's book is extraordinary; filled with fabulous, simple to set-up STEAM projects (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art & Math) .
Her cover photo shows, 'The Marble Run' built from toilet paper rolls and adorned with decorations.
We opted to give this a go (and subbed in pom poms, where marbles would normally run!)

I presented O & Baby C with a tray of stickers, painters tape and TP rolls before inviting them to decorate.
Once they were happy with their designs, we used our library door frame to arrange the run.
This was a fantastic exercise of trial and error; learning which angle to tilt the roll so the pom poms would run continuously down the line, courtesy of gravity.

 Does rolled paper roll?

Not only did we spend a good amount of time chasing and running pom poms, but both O & C quickly took to seeking other objects to throw down the chute!

Does this ball fit?

We did pre-measure to make sure Baby C would be able to reach. 
She was quite keen to be part of this one!

The Netherlands rocks an impressive display of marbles!



Back in Shanghai, my students, then the age of O, loved playing with tangram sets I put aside for group work. It was a very different kind of 'study' then they were accustomed to from their regular classes. They enjoyed the hands-on activity and card sets.
I purchased this inexpensive set of 4 for us to use at home. 
It comes along with 100 diagrams ranging from easy to ridiculously tricky!

O was not at all interested in the diagrams given.
She was bent on creating three dimensional structures and focused on making them balance!


Eventually, she did let me have a go on Diagram 1, but only as fast as I could complete it, before she insisted on having the pieces back for her own creations (which is a very good sign that she likes using these.)

A fantastic busy-bag activity that can be done independently or together (when invited!)

Tieramid. Another tangram-type set of cards and shapes we own is the Tieramid Set. This differs in that all the shapes are rounded (and colourful!)

Little Red

"If you want your children to be intelligent, 
read them Fairy Tales"
We haven't introduced Fairy Tales in the traditional sense.
Hopefully Einstein was referring to any sorts of Fairy Tales, not those limited to Disney or Grimms brothers.
We definitely talk all things fairies & gnomes, though we stray far away from princesses, wicked step parents, poison apples and the likes. 

I love finding an 'alternative' fairy tale, like 'The Very Little Red Riding Hood'. 
Not only is she a female heroine, she is a child hero! 
As she sets out for her Grandmothers house, she spots a wolf who she affectionately calls "Foxie" and therein, she calls all the shots!

Both O & Baby C loved this introduction to Little Red.
O was even persistent about asking if this was our copy to keep!

Memory Basket. We used a basket of felt food to play the memory game, covering them with Little Red's cape (and permitting the inevitable cheating!)

Mapping The Wood.We took a sheet of red construction paper and a page from the inside cover of the book, to develop our own Map of the Woods, in white.

Wet Red Chalk. O loves to create with wet chalk and the results are beautiful!

Raised Saltwork

You can't go wrong with glue and food colouring!
O loves a messy project, but even more so, art supplies that are new to her!
We don't often bring out plain old white glue, so this was a welcome part of the day!
You could use sand instead of salt, but for the science component of this project, salt is a clearer medium to watch the food colouring work it's magic!

I attempted to emphasize how the results would be clearer if glue was drawn in delicate lines (rather than giant globs) O quickly taught herself how to lift and release the squeeze, so she could write her name!

Eye droppers are another winner in our house!
As soon as you drop some colour onto the salt, it spreads in all directions of the lines. Lovely!!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015


Tessellation Stencils

It's not surprising that art as a crucial component of education is being recognized in more institutions.
Not only does it promote 'outside-the-box' thinking that stretches the brain, but delves deeply into various subject matter; including but not limited to, math, science, history, music...

The majority of projects we tackle in a week are art-related, not because my children are young (I plan to continue art projects as they age), or because I have a strong background in the arts myself, but I see the value in using art as a segue into various aspects of education.
The beauty of using art in education is it's not limited to subject discipline. The core lesson of art is to encourage self-expression and creativity, neither of which can really be 'taught', only permitted and exercised.

Art is not limited to drawing either, for those people who claim they cannot.
Doodlers, mappers, engineers, DIYer's are all artists.
Many mediums can be used to create art and the final product isn't necessarily the goal.
The challenges, learned and enjoyed aspects of the process, are key.

Tessallations are a case in point.
I can draw, but I struggled with these math puzzles for a few days.
Eventually, when I pulled them out to tackle them again, O & Baby C started entertaining themselves!

Ride Around the Maze!

The concept is quite simple; repetitive patterns with no gaps or spaces.
Think 'tiles'.
You can keep it as simple as diamond shapes repeated (I think of the chain link fencing I could stare at for hours as a child, finding images in it's patterns.)
But I didn't want to create something as simple as diamonds.

I folded and cut a standard sheet of 8.5x11" paper, so I could try various designs.
This first was a fail.
Curling up the corners of the rectangle did not result in a 'no gaps design'.

Then I cut off the corners and arranged them.
This didn't work either and bore a painful resemblance to a weapon.

Once I finally created a few shapes I liked working with, I mounted them on a cereal box to create a stencil.
O didn't want to create from scratch. Perhaps a result of her mother cursing over these for days!
She was happy to take one of my stencils and quickly learned how to 'trace and slide' to create a page full of pattern.

Fox Face

Eventually, my favourite pattern became 'Fox Face' and from here, I carried on to put detailed designs on one of the shapes, leaving the rest uniform.

What We Do All Day. Quickly becoming one of my new favourite blogs, 'WWDAD' has a fantastic post on various projects that combine art and math.

Advanced Origami! Check out this Origami Tessellation!

Monday, May 25, 2015

Balancing Act

By drilling four teeny holes into a wooden cube, you have a simple balancing tool.
Add a few skewers, some plasticine and beads and you have an activity.
This video sparked my interest in the project though not the first time we've attempted a balancing act; or used our wooden scale to experiment with

Front Seat=Enthusiasm
Back Seat=Innocent 'til proven guilty!
Our intention was to take some time and thread beads on each upward facing skewer, chit chat about math, addition and subtraction, pendulums etc. etc.
Baby C's intention was to inject interference whenever possible;)
It wasn't long before we turned this balancing project into a free block-play session!

O gathered all the wooden cubes she could collect, to stack into a tall tower.
Shifty Gaze

While Baby C enjoyed watching me build a structure whose fate was clear from the start!

If you have budding architects or engineers look no further than, 'Iggy Peck Architect' and 'Rosie Revere Engineer' by Andrea Beaty. (the latter full of female engineers and heroine's!)
Clever stories told in rhyme with illustrations over graph paper! Love it!

Twenty Months Old


Wee Bunny

Mr. & Mrs. Duck have returned to the pond at the park and in their place, this wee bunny has been frequenting our front porch!
Baby C wakes up each morning and reminds me what to do...'Carrot!?'

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Rhythm Sticks

Baby C collected her own Ryhthm ssticks from garden stakes and went to town tap, tap, tapping!

 All her sticks in one basket:)

Songs for Sticks. Laptime and Storytime provides a slew of chants that work well with Rhythm Sticks

Sticks with Spunk. These little twigs received a make-over!

You Tube Lovin'. O and C will go nutty for these!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Sticker Match

Sticker Match

Super simple set-up and activity that O was all smiles for from Tinkerlab
We did a double-sided sheet; one to match colours, the other to match animals. Since stickers are easy to travel with, this is a great game for a trip or outing to occupy busy hands and heads.

When O was finishing up, she was already making up rules for a sticker game to challenge me.
One of those games where she makes and re-makes the rules as we play resulting in her win every time!

Chalk Painting

Ever since the very first time O got her hands on sidewalk chalk, she's been making chalk powder.
She kept busy last summer scraping giant chunks of chalks into the side of an old spice tin and remained devoted to her task. This Spring, she diligently returned to her work....but this year, we used it to make paint.

A rock was all that was needed to smash the chalk into dusty bits, before scraping the powder into muffin tin cups.

Baby C also loves chalk, but for very different reasons, so we had to work fast before our supplies were eaten!

Then we constructed a 'brush' from cedar branches and a bamboo garden stake.

The results were subtle splatters and strokes in all kinds of colours.