Friday, January 30, 2009

More playsilks please

My little one is building and constructing on a larger scale these day. Caves, forts, secret hideouts, and nests are continuously being built with all the couch pillows and blankets. It is a massive undertaking, which is wonderful because she's learning. Right? I really do not mind the pillows and blankets everywhere either. With a few weeks left in my pregnancy and my belly so big, helping when a pillow falls or a blanket caves in is getting too much. I knew I needed a solution for both my little one and myself.

Ah-ha...It came to me....To get some more canopy playsilks to cover her playstands. In the past, we were able to use the playsilks to drap off the opening on her playstands and cover the arches, but I think she wants total exclusion these days.

Daisy Hill Silks (on ebay) has beautiful silks. We found a beautiful sunflower gold canopy silk. It just brightens her play area and adds so much warmth. We were also lucky to get a seascape of blues, as well. It reminds me of the ocean. We have a sky and grass canopy playsilk already from Daisy Hill Silks. It is really vibrant and beautiful and, of course, a rainbow canopy playsilk brings magic to any play space. (They are super fun outside on a windy day, too)

The canopy silks are up (and probably not going to be ironed anytime soon) and I feel lucky that her area is draped in beautiful, vibrant silks.
My little one is all snug in her cave and I've been sitting down for longer than 5 minutes. I think I've found the perfect solution.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Pine cone birds

Today, we were listening to a cd of bird songs. The different sounds were very fun to listen to and this cd had 50 songs from around the world. I took out some craft feathers and we glued them to some pine cones. Attach a tree nut or an acorn for the head (optional). Then, we tied some string around the pine cone and attached to a stick. Instant bird. The pine cone birds are so fun and we love the way the feathers move!!! I am sure we'll have a flock by the end of the week.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Searching for buried treasure

A paper airplane flew above Daddy's head. He would open it up to uncover a map to the pirate's treasure. So, he set sail off into the blue, heading for the island (my little one's playstands covered with silks).

He took 4 paces this way and 3 paces that way.... he dug over here and dug over there. My little one let him know if he was getting closer "cold, cold, warmer, warmer, HOT, HOT, HOT!" and then .... he discovered the treasure. Gleaming booty, sparkling gems and golden coins!! WOW what an adventure. I made up a few more too, if you're interested, check out my little shop for a pirate's treasure play set.

We also picked up this book at the library. It has tons of facts, tidbits, and pictures about anything and everything to do with pirates. Little stories of treasures and pirates from around the world.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Celebrating the Chinese New Year

My little one came home from school yesterday talking about the Chinese New Year. So, we will be celebrating and I'm off in search of some facts...

- The most important holiday for Chinese families, celebrations can last for a month (farmers could not planting crops during the winter)
- Celebrated by family gatherings, gift giving, eating symbolic foods and displaying festive decorations
- Focus on bringing good luck for the new year and celebrating the coming of Spring
- Before the New Year, they clean their homes, pay of debt, purchase new clothes, get new haircuts, all symbolizing new beginnings and new life
- Important foods include: oranges because they are perfectly round and symbolize completeness and wholeness, dumplings because they look like golden nuggets and long noodles serve to symbolize long life. Sticky rice cakes and sweets are utilized in a Santa Claus-like figure, Kitchen God, who reports to the Jade Emperor in heaven on whether families have been good or bad
- Red and gold important colors. Red that represents power happiness and vitality. Gold represents wealth and good fortune
- Children are given little red envelopes filled with money to represent wealth and prosperity and the giving of good fortune
- Flowers in the home symbolize the coming of spring and a new beginning. Plum blossoms are considered a symbol for courage and hope
- The New Year ends with a Lantern Festival. Lighting the lanterns symbolizes the brightness of spring
- The dragon is an important symbol of strength, goodness, good luck and supernatural forces. People dress up in dragon costumes and dance down the street. The costumes are made of brightly colored silks and are very extravagant. The longer the dragon, the more luck it will bring
- Fireworks wakes up the dragon who will fly across the sky to bring the spring rain for the crops. Fireworks are supposed to scare away all evil spirits and misfortune, preventing them from coming into the new year. Firecrackers are also thrown at the feet of the dragons in the parade to keep them awake for the celebration

The more I discovered, the more interested I became in all the symbolism weaved through the celebration of the Chinese New Year. I am no expert, these are just some things I found from a bunch of different sources.

My little one made a paper lantern at school. First, she decorated the paper (then teacher felt a need to add the glitter to my daughter's project. See the steam coming out of my ears. I think the teacher should decorate her own project and not take that experience away from the kids. One of my biggest complaints.) Fold the paper in half the long way. Draw vertical lines from the folded edge that will be cut, leaving a border at the top. After lines are cut, unfold paper and connect the top corners and the bottom corners.

To make the firecrackers, we decorates toilet paper rolls and strung them on varying lengths of twine.

Monday, January 26, 2009

And the winners are...

:: Thank you for all those who entered and let's get to announcing the winners.

:: The wooden bowl & scoop play set goes to sewspun

:: The honey bee playset goes to nicole spring

:: The Doll baking set goes to tina.

Thanks again

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Fairy update

Yesterday, my little one left out a few more treasures for the fairies. She is really giving some thought into what to leave for them. It is very sweet.

So, last night the fairies left another Sweet dreams bedtime wishes card and a few sequin stars. My little one was a wee bit disappointed,
(mama fairy is sick with a cold so she was not able to needle felt a little mushroom.) It led to a little conversation about giving from the heart.

Tonight, before bed, my little one brought out the fishing swivels from the other night. They were tucked away in a little box on her bookshelf. She though the fairies would find them interesting.

She's so sweet and thoughtful, but...
I am wondering how long I can keep this up.

Forcing paperwhites

Forcing paperwhites are so easy and it is an activity my little one looks forward to. I always on the look out for the bulbs on sale after the holidays.

To start off with, we layer some river rocks into a glass container (the little one's will be able to observe the roots). Then, position the bulbs out over the river rocks, with the new growth sprouting up. Layer some additional rocks up to the top of the bulbs, allowing the growth to stick up. Add water to the base of the bulb. Place in cool, dark area until roots develop. You may need to add some water during this time. Once roots develop, place in a sunny spot. When the bulbs start to flower, move the plant out of direct sunlight, as they will last longer.

Friday, January 23, 2009

My little fairy was up at 5 am

The most beautiful world is always entered through your imagination.

If you wish to be something you are not, you shut your eyes, and for one dreamy moment you are that which you long for.

-Helen Keller

:: The smallest of things are magical to a child.

Anticipating the fairies visit, my little one was up very early this morning. How early? 5 am.

She was so excited and filled with overwhelming joy at the fairies visit. It was beautiful to witness, even at 5 in the morning. Her excitement just lit up the room.

The story went something like this... As the fairies fluttered by last night, they saw something sparkle out of the corner of their eye. They wondered what it could be. They flew over to a window to take a closer look. The screws and hooks were sparkling in the moonlight. They were so amazed at all the trinkets that were left at the window for them. Inside the room, they saw a sweet little girl sleeping all cozy in her bed. They collected the magical (20+) trinkets and wanted to leave the sweet little girl something very special. In return, they left my little A some treasures they collected from their journeys, a trail of shining stars, a fairy card, a wool mushroom, and
walnut bowl filled with a crystal, metal washer, and mother-of-pearl button.

:: As I rested until the sun came up, I heard lots of activity in the house. From the sound, I knew little A was gathering river rocks, left over from our paperwhite planting project. I knew exactly where they were going to end up.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

How to attract fairies to your garden

I found all the following information on Enchanted Gardens and this is going to be such a fun activity with my little one. I know she'll just love it all.

How do we attract fairies into your garden? Our answer is always the same, you have to believe in the enchanted magic of fairies. Once you open your heart to the magic of fairies around you, fairies will be instantly attracted to your garden. Enjoy our collection of our favorite tried and true tips to attract fairies into your fairy garden!

Create a Fairy Garden
A sure way to attract magical fairies into your garden is to create a magical miniature fairy garden of any size to invite the fairies into your garden and show the magical wee fae that you believe in fairies! Fairies are peaceful yet mischievous magical folk that like to frolic and dance in your garden. Playful fairies are often responsible for knocking over your garden decor and trampling your miniature garden plants when you're not watching. Miniature fairies sure know how to throw a good party and they're happy to bring good luck and prosperity into your garden.

Fairy Houses
Fairies love places to hide so be sure to include fairy houses, flowering shrubs, gnarled tree stumps and rock outcroppings in your miniature garden to entice fairies to settle in your enchanted garden. Fairies will want a place to hide and will tend to make their home in gardens that provide outlets to quickly disappear from the prying attention of human eyes.

Sweet Offerings to the Fairies
In times of olde, peasants would leave magical offerings of sweets like miniature cakes to attract benevolent fairies into their herb gardens. While it may not be practical to leave food out in your garden in modern times, you can appease a modern fairy's sweet tooth by planting succulent sweet flowers like honeysuckle in your garden.

Fragrant Flowers
Fairies love a colorful selection of plants and flowers frolic around in your garden. Stop by our fairy garden plants page to learn about some of our favorite fairy plants for your enchanted gardens.

Fairy Bells & Chimes
Place miniature bells and fairy wind chimes in your miniature fairy garden to hear them magically tinkle as fairies pass by your enchanted garden. Fanciful fairies enjoy music and dancing and will be drawn to the delightful tinkling of bells and wind chimes.

Miniature Water Features
Attract water fairies and sprites to your fairy garden by creating miniature ponds, streams, fountains or other enchanted water features to your garden. Fairies enjoy the magical properties of water and will be attracted to any of your miniature water features! Fairies will be splashing about and frolicking with their amphibian friends in no time!

Magical Fairy Dust
Add sparkling glitter to your fairy houses and paths. Fairies can't resist sparkling objects and will love investigating your glittering fairy gardens. The fairies will transform your ordinary glitter into magical fairy dust.

Magical Fairy Paths and Pathways
Enchant your magical garden with miniature paths for fairies to frolic and follow throughout your enchanted miniature garden. Magical stone and gravel paths will entice fairies to roam throughout your gardens and perhaps leave behind a tiny fairy footprint.

A Fairy's Best Friend
Surround your fairy garden with plants to attract butterflies and hummingbirds, to attract these fairy's best friends into your enchanted fairy garden. Fairies love taking rides on these winged creatures!

Fairy Garden Tea Party
Fairies enjoy a tea party as much as we do! Throw a miniature tea party set in your miniature fairy garden. Fairies are also fond of aromatic chamomile herbs and flowers for this very reason.

Fairy Mushroom Ring
Create a miniature fairy mushroom ring to create a magical portal into the world of fairies but be careful not to cross the boundaries and enter the world of fairies yourself!

Treasures for the fairies

When will I see the fairies? How come the fairies see me? The fairies sure will like these (screws, hooks and fishing swivels taken out of our little junk drawer).

My little one lined the edge of her window with the treasures. What do you think the fairies will leave by my window for me?

Humm. We'll have to see, I tell her.

At bedtime, my little one checked to see if the exchange of treasures had taken place. I assure her that when she's asleep the fairies will discover the treasures she left and maybe leave something behind.

So, let's think, what treasures might the fairies leave behind?
fairy dust
shiny sequin stars
a crystal teardrops (wish I had some)
a miniature tea set
a little basket
a thimble vase of little flowers
a little wool mushroom
spools of thread for stools
a fairy door (perfect for her 5th birthday coming soon)
... another thought: small shells, a crystal, polished stones, acorn caps, walnut shell, or peacock feather

I have a card set from The Silver Penny, Sweet Dreams Bedtime Wishes and now seems like the perfect time to leave one for my little one. A sweet little verse of one side and a beautiful illustration on the other. The shop also has a bunch of cute fairy things, but I am off to find a few things around the house and maybe break out some wool.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Growing and growing

:: My little one's seeds have sprouted. It's great to see the roots through the glass jar and to be able to notice the growth each day. The daily watering is a favorite of my little one. Next time, I'm going to try some wheatgrass, which is fun for the little ones because the wheatgrass likes to be trimmed.

:: Speaking of growing. Someone else has been growing and growing and growing and ... Well, you get my point.

With two months until we welcome our little baby, we thought it would be good idea to gradually start bringing out some things for the baby. Today, we brought out the crib. Daddy put it together with some help from Av. I think keeping her involved in the entire process is going be important. The other day she told me that she loves the baby more than anything. More than her toys and books. Now, that's a lot of love.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

This is our victory

A moment that will define a generation. Yes, this is our victory.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Unschooling, at least part-time

I intend on testing the waters of unschooling, at least part-time unschooling, as my little one finishes out her two-day-a-week preschool program and through the summer. She is still really not enjoying going to school, even after lessen her days from last year. Our friend, an elementary school teacher in a public school system, says that kids my little one's age really enjoy going to school. A big red flag for me as a parent.

Homeschooling has always been in the back of my mind for a long time before I even decided to have children. I remember thinking about the differences my husband and I had in our education, going to the same school (we met in high school). He struggled and I memorized words in text books and received great marks on tests. The differences in our education did not sit well with me and raised some big questions. Now, I am pursuing more of an unschooling route.

After having my little one, I felt a need to be home with her. It was not planned and these last 4 1/2 years have been a journey. Our journey as a family.

As my little one's school year is half over, I am left wondering what we are going to do. What we should do? So, I am going to try out unschooling. I guess it is something we have been doing all along, discovering new places and exploring the things that she has showed a interest in, allowing her to make decisions on how to spend our day, sometimes giving her options, but most of all allowing for flexibility. I think it gives her the opportunity to experience, explore, discover, create, imagine, and learn in her own way. I feel helping her find the answers to her questions and uncover more about her interests makes for a vivid and memorable learning experience.

At an early age, I did Montessori activities with my little one. I utilized a few books, like Montessori Play and Learn by Joy Starrey Turner, Teaching Montessori in the home, the Preschool Years by Elizabeth G. Hainstock, and Teach Me To Do It Myself by Maja Pitamic. We did life skills / practical activities, like pouring, transferring, buttoning, threading beads, using clothespins, and cutting with scissors. We also set up tables, shelves, mirrors, hair brushes, tooth brushes, and coat racks that my little one could access independently. I also set up a bunch of sensory activities like matching shapes, textures, sounds, activities with smell and taste, sorting objects by size and height and some color activities that we did a few times each and with variations, as my little one liked to do things her own way. We still utilize parts of the Montessori nature activities, mostly for the diagrams and life cycles. Most importantly, we try to let our little one do things independently.

When my little one started to play dress-up and start pretending (around 3) , I digressed from setting up the Montessori activities and started incorporating a Waldorf style play room, which creates an environment for a child's imagination. We did attempt more of a Waldorf weekly rhythm, where we had a specific activity for each day, such as having a drawing day, gardening day, nature day, soup making day, baking day, watercolors day and one "surprise day". With my husband's flex schedule and weather, it did not work to set a specific activity daily activity, although we regular do these activities each week. I do think that we did naturally fall into the rhythm of having a balance of physical play, creative/mental activity and rest. I really just try and follow my little one's lead. The nature table, which recognizes the seasons and holidays or festivals has been a wonderful addition, as well as story telling, songs, verses, and fingerplay. My little one loves nature, which connects us to our childhood as well. So, nature walks, natural "treasure" toys, and playing with the elements, Earth, Air, Water, and Fire (roasting marshmallows) will also continue as we feel they are important to us.

With both Waldorf and Montessori, the parent is the child's first teacher. The child is also included in the daily "family" type activities, like baking, making soup, preparing snacks, cleaning up and setting the table. Both take the time to create and prepare the environment for the child. I feel that we will utilize parts from both, Montessori and Waldorf, as we continue on our journey.

Now, I will be looking for some books on unschooling and suggestions they have especially regarding younger children. I am not sure if I should have any goals for unschooling, as to determine if this is successful or not. My husband will also have to think more about what he would like for our little one and what he needs to feel comfortable with unschooling our little one. We do not know anyone who is unschooling their children, so we would love any comments or suggestions or recommendations on a few books that have helped you along the way.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Winter songs, verses and fingerplay for children

Little, Little Snowman
A little, little snowman had a carrot for a nose
Along came a bunny and what do you suppose?
That hungry little bunny was looking for his lunch
And he ate that snowman's carrot nose...
Nibble, nibble, CRUNCH!

Once there was a snowman, snowman, snowman
Once there was a snowman tall, tall, tall
Then the sun it melted, melted, melted
And made the snowman small, small, small

The Wintery Wind
The winter wind blows
The winter wind blows
It gives me the shivers
From my head to my toes

Snowflakes Falling Down
Snowflakes falling down, down, down
Falling on the ground, ground, ground
Great, big white flakes, flakes, flakes
That do not make a sound, sound, sound (whisper)

Snowflakes, soft snowflakes
gently are falling
Magically making
everything white

Snowflakes, Snowflakes
Snowflakes, snowflakes, dance around
Snowflakes, snowflakes, touch the ground
Snowflakes, snowflakes, on my nose
Snowflakes, snowflakes, on my toes
Snowflakes, snowflakes, twirl around
Snowflakes, snowflakes, touch the ground

Crunch, crunch, crunch
up the hill
so slow, slow, slow. (walk fingers up arm)
Wee, wee, wee
down the hill
we go, go, go. (slide down arm)

Little Snowflake by Emilie Poulsson
Oh, tiny little snowflake,
So lightly floating by,
A long, long way you've traveled
To visit from the sky

Come, rest upon my window
You've journeyed very far.
You're such a pretty snowflake
A silv'ry winter star!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Popsicle stick snowflakes

Popsicle stick snowflakes
are easy and fun to make. My little one loves adding sparkling confetti and glitter. I think they are a great addition to our nature table.

Check out our paper snowflakes here. Here's a fitting verse from our Music Together class and a compilation of wonderful winter songs, verses, and fingerplay that we have enjoyed.

Snowflakes, soft snowflakes
gently are falling.
Magically making
everything white.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Keeping the ball rolling

:: Our day finished very smoothly last night. Getting back to some regular daily activities with my little one, I feel has helped. We had game night and finished with a favorite game that allows for storytelling, Selecta Variland.

:: My little one loves to help out. This morning she helped Dad paint the bathroom.

:: Planting some seeds has always been a great activity in the past. Here we replanted some moss we had growing in our yard.

:: Pictures created with peanuts. Humm, I never thought about that. Maybe we could make some additional pictures with beans and rice. I wonder what else my little one might suggest. It's always fun to let her help with the planning.

Overall, the last few days have been great. My little one has been acting like my child. Getting back to a daily rhythm with regular daily activities has made all the difference. My little one has been making up all kinds of fun songs and enjoying herself and able to keep herself active the other times, instead of asking about movies, movies, and having a movie day (she means watching movies the entire day) and having a movie night. We even made a boxed cinnamon bread today, just to keep the ball rolling in a wonderful direction.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Window Stars for preschool kids

Just a few supplies (tissue paper stars and contact paper) from the store and we were able to make a window star picture. The magic really happens when the pictures are hung up in the window and the sunlight shines through.

:: wooden stars for play

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Inside / Outside

:: While outside some snow accumulated, inside, we set up a playhut tunnel play set. It occupied my little one for most of the day - hiding, seeking, playing, nesting, and all that fun stuff.

:: Outside, Dad and little A made a snow castle, complete with dried hydrangea flowers. Again, I was late to take pictures of their outside fun and when my little one came in with rosy cheeks, hot chocolate was immediately requested, with cane cane sprinkles (of course).

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Winter bird activities

A little greenery added to our winter bird activity from yesterday. Just what our nature table needed.

I love activities that my little one can do all by herself. These pine cone bird feeders are perfect for younger children. I also love this activity because it uses up all the peanut butter that gets stuck in the bottom of the natural peanut butter jars.

:: My little one started putting each little sunflower seed on one at a time. Precious.

:: We tied with some twine and hung near a window.

Winter birds

Here's a little activity with some winter friends, who are visiting our nature table. First, we hung up our new bird feeder and took out a small and manageable bird identification brochure. Then, I cut out some bird shapes and my little one identified and colored them in. So far, we identified a blue jay, cardinal, red-bellied woodpecker, tufted titmouse, white-breasted nuthatch, and a chickadee. The white markings were hard for my little one. So the chickadee looks more like a junco. Grampie & Nana are bird enthusiasts, so they have taught us a lot.

All we need is a branch for our nature table. That's on our list today, as well as making some snacks for the birds.

Friday, January 9, 2009

In motion

:: It's hard to catch a picture of my little one these days. As soon as the camera comes out, she's in motion, trying to avoid a photo.

:: Covering your face always works.

:: Or hibernating in a cave will work. Again, you see all the pillows in my house being utilized.

:: A few smiles for the camera.


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