Friday, April 3, 2020

Our Community Garden

We had such plans for our gardens and grounds this spring! We wanted to build new garden beds, clean up the flower beds, and create a beautiful natural play space for the children around the climbing tree.

Last week, while on a walk that took me behind the synagogue, I saw the sadly neglected flower bed near the climbing tree play space. And I got an idea.

We're all taking walks and riding bikes and scooters these days. What if, when we went by the synagogue, we stopped for a few minutes to weed? I can prune the tree. And once the weeds are gone, I'll get some dirt. 

And then, maybe we can transplant a few flowers from our own yards, or pick up some annuals while at the grocery store, or even some herbs, and plant them in the bed. There doesn't have to be a real plan. I think a mishmash of sun loving perennials and annuals lovingly planted by our families during this time will be absolutely beautiful.

As our community garden grows, I'll take pictures and post them here.

Happy spring!

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Sensory Tub

Activity: Sensory Tub


  • Using materials you have at home, create a sensory tub
Materials
  • Large, flat bottomed plastic tub that fits on your table (an extra large Tupperware will do nicely)
  • We often use a mix of uncooked rice, beans, lentils, pasta, popcorn kernels, oats, etc.
  • If those are currently unavailable, try shredded paper, ribbons, cut-up straws, cotton balls, small toys like marbles, puff balls, magnetic letters, corks, bottle caps, aquarium rocks, etc., really anything that is small and scoop-able and pour-able
  • If you want a messy experience, try water (and ice cubes!), dirt, sand, or shaving cream
  • You can also order kinetic sand online
  • Scoops, cups, measuring spoons, bowls with and without lids, etc.
Questions and Prompts
  • How many scoops will it take to fill that bowl?
  • Can you make me a chocolate cake?
  • Help me clean up everything that fell on the floor!
Time
  • Ongoing
Skills Learned and Practiced
  • Social-Emotional - can be a very calming and soothing experience for some children
  • Language - vocabulary development, conversation skills
  • Cognitive - math and science concepts, open-ended exploration and discovery
  • Physical - learning to use all senses to take in information

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Bird Nests

Activity: Build a Bird Nest
  • Birds are busy building nests right now. Go on a walk and look for nests.
  • Notice the different materials the birds use.
  • Notice how big the nests are and how many birds and eggs fit inside.
  • Say, Hey! I wonder if we could build a bird nest just like these birds!
Materials
  • Pictures of birds and nests (find online)
  • Paper (to shred)
  • String, yarn, pipe cleaners, toothpicks, etc.
  • Packing materials
  • Small sticks, leaves (mud!)
  • Small rocks to represent eggs, a small toy or stuffed animal to represent the bird
Questions and Prompts
  • Why do you think the birds chose those materials to build their nests?
  • What materials do we need to build our nest?
  • What shape should your nest be?
  • I wonder why your nest fell apart.
  • What would happen if . . . 
  • Is your nest strong enough to hold one egg (rock)? Two? Three? What about the mama bird? Let's test it out!
Time

  • 15-30 minutes
  • Easy to revisit as the weeks go on and you notice more birds and nests in your neighborhood

 Learned and Practiced
  • Social-Emotional - connecting with nature, learning about families and relationships
  • Language - using descriptive words
  • Cognitive - learning more about animal habitats, problem solving, scientific inquiry, close observation, perseverance 
  • Physical - getting exercise, fine motor work

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

It's a Box!

Activity: It's a Box!
  • Give children boxes to build and play with and just step back. Their creativity will astound you.
Materials
  • As many cardboard boxes as you have (delivery boxes, egg cartons, shoe boxes)
  • Scissors, tape, glue
  • Extras like buttons, string, colored paper, markers, stickers, pom-poms, etc.
Questions and Prompts
  • I wonder what we could make with this box?
  • I wonder what would happen if . . .
  • What do you want to make? How will you build it? What do you need?
Time
  • All day
Extensions
  • Design a city
  • Make a model of your house
  • Build a rocketship
Skills Learned and Practiced
  • Social-Emotional - this engineering activity will evolve into a dramatic play activity
  • Language - vocabulary development, giving and following directions
  • Cognitive - exploring concepts such as spatial relations, balance, design engineering
  • Physical - fine motor, hand-eye coordination, hand muscle strengthening


Monday, March 30, 2020

Learn Something New, Together

Following up on last week's post about sharing a skill or talent with your child, today learn to do something new with your child. Try a new recipe. Learn some Hebrew words. Find a YouTube video on making paper origami. The point isn't what new thing you learn to do, it's that you show your child how to learn something new.

  • Start with a question (I wonder how you . . .) or a statement (I've always wanted to . . .).
  • Do some research. Use the internet. Ask your spouse. Borrow a cookbook. Call grandma.
  • Build, bake, practice, experiment. Make mistakes. Try again. And again.
  • Do some more research.
  • Keep at it. Make a goal. "When we get really good at baking, we should try baking our own challah" or "We're going to practice and practice with building and constructing until we're ready to build a birdhouse."
  • Don't give up. Persist. Let your child see that you're capable of learning, too, even when it's hard. All of us can always learn something new.
  • Have fun.

Friday, March 27, 2020

Bird Feeders

I woke up to the sounds of birds chirping and I remembered the bird feeders we have at school. The birds had just started coming almost every day and the children loved standing at the window and watching them.

Activity: Bird Feeders
  • Such a great tactile experience!
  • If you don't have or can't easily find birdseed, there are lots of use-what-you-have-at-home recipes to be found online.
Materials
  • Toilet paper roll
  • Scissors and string
  • Honey
  • Birdseed
  • Shallow bowl
Questions and Prompts
  • Why do you think we need the honey?
  • Where should we hang the bird feeder so the birds can eat from it but the squirrels can't? And we can see it?
  • How long do you think it will take for the birds to eat all the food? We have to keep checking every day so we know when it's time to make another bird feeder.
Time
  • 10-15 minutes to gather the materials and make the feeder
  • Thereafter, ongoing
Skills Learned and Practiced
  • Social-Emotional - teamwork, connecting with natural world, caring for animals
  • Language - vocabulary, following step-by-step directions
  • Cognitive - planning and problem solving
  • Physical - fine motor planning, development of all five senses

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Share a Hidden Talent or Skill with Your Child

There is a lot that you know how to do. Your child doesn't yet know how to do a lot of things. And they love you and look up to you and want to be like you and want to spend time with you more than anything.

Find 30 minutes today to teach them to do something you're already really good at. Playing the saxophone? Building a flower box? Making pasta sauce from scratch?

Yes, they're young. Very young. But that doesn't mean they can't learn something from you. They'll take from the experience what they're capable of taking away.

If nothing else, may this time remind us that it's moments like these that matter more than anything else.


Our Community Garden

We had such plans for our gardens and grounds this spring! We wanted to build new garden beds, clean up the flower beds, and create a beauti...