A simple fruit salad

25.2.16 0 comments
We've gone 2 weeks without the dreaded communal illness. You know the one where the kids play pass it on, and before you know it, months have passed and you can't remember when your kiddos were NOT sick? Yep, that one. 

I have been working over time to get as much vitamins (into the children) without being an over-bearing crazy lady. I love to make smoothies for them, because I can add a lot of things that I can't get them to eat on the regular.
The children and I often talk about how important it is to "eat the rainbow". Most of them love fruits- veggies are another story. I like to add kale and cucumbers to our fruit salads, but yesterday I didn't push it. 

I sent the kids to the fridge and I asked them to pull out some of the fruits that they would like to try. (Secret: I put said fruits right at the front of the fridge). The kids helped me make this yummy fruit salad.We learnt all the names of the fruits, and they all agreed that they've never eaten papaya (which someone kept referring to as a little pumpkin), before (I can't be sure of that). 

Sooo, to celebrate introducing a new fruit AND liking it very much actually, we called our day "We tried something new today"  day :)
/ papaya
= all very high in vitamin C
No recipe needed right?

 Do your children plan or help prepare simple meals or snacks?

Found in nature...

Sometimes when we're getting ready to go outside I stop right in the middle of it all and take a deep breath. I love getting outside. The kids love and really enjoy being out in the elements. Sometimes, however, after dressing every child I feel exhausted. No matter- we get on, we step outside and we never regret it.

This week our nature walk was all about finding treasures.  Surprisingly, no one picked up pine-cones (a first). We found sticks, leafs encased in ice, and some ice (to take home). We also found something that really excited the kids (more on that later).
The Outdoors is awesome. Emotionally, mentally and most definitely physically, I see a different side of the children. Don't take my word for it. Ask your children about the outdoors, and they will have lots of stories to tell.

gluten-free broccoli chicken noodle soup

24.2.16 0 comments
Soup day was great this past week. I think we made one of the best pots of soup so far. The kids ate bowls of it.

 In the basket we had...
We followed this recipe (loosely)

 and definitely gave it a gluten-free/nob-dairy spin (gf pasta, almond milk, no cheese etc), and voila...
Thank you dear parents for always been so generous and open to all that we do. The kids always enjoy soup day :)

Our tools for fine motor & language skills development

23.2.16 0 comments
Having a mixed age group is fun. I notice the subtle and not so subtle differences when the kids are in nature, or in learning mode. Learning happens all day every day- this is true; however, we do set aside 2 mornings a week to focus on developing skills and learning about various things, and of course keeping up with our French language learning. 

How I come up with activities
All children need to learn fine and gross motor skills. They also need to have fun while doing it. Sometimes, if a child comes to me with a specific question I will think about how to develop an activity that could help the children explore further. That's exactly what happened when one of our friends asked about magnets (see below).
matching/french learning
When do we do it
We have planned learning activities twice a week. We like to call these mornings our "table top mornings" - although we do the activities in the afternoon sometimes (not too often but...). I prefer to do our activities in the AM because the children are a little more relaxed, and not yet as stimulated. And let's face it, I wouldn't want to wake up to anything but snack and a bit of free play- how about you?

Our treasure box of activities is filled to the brim with various tools and lessons - we also have a French box. The activities in both boxes are only used for the table top learning. Why you ask? Because I tried it the other way. I thought I'd allow the children free range over all of their play/learning, but that was a huge disaster. Activity pieces were misplaced, or broken, and at their young age, self-direction is a bit of a challenge (as expected).
Set Up& the ONLY Rule
Since I have a mixed age, all the children are at different learning stages. This is the difficult part, because I have noticed that the older children like to do the activities that have been created for the younger children, because they "seem" fun. And they are right! The younger activities take very little brain power for the older more advanced children. So what to do?

Technically, the children only have to do 2 activities, but most often they stay and do most if not all, so I begin by giving each child 2 activities that are age-appropriate (no questions asked), they must complete these activities. After this, I set up the "stations" of various learning tools around the table, with a few extras in the middle of the table, and the children rotate activities.

Who gets what? 
That depends! If I know that a child has an interest in a particular activity, or has a hard time completing a task (like zippers), then I will try to focus on that. For example, my son is spelling french words so he loves using letters; our 4 year old pre-schooler loves patterns; another small one loves to sort EVERYTHING; another 2 year old likes to match, and my 2 year old like chalk. I just find ways to encourage all of these things.
drawing/scribbling/erasing & starting again (she uses paint brushes to erase)
The one issue that stands is that children get comfortable with certain activities. For example, some activities can be memorized, others are just plain fun, and more importantly, they have their own comfort zones. For example, some children know their colours, and a simple matching game takes a few seconds, while others are just learning. It's a no-brainer.

Do I allow some to do only certain activities? Not at all. I don't push too much however, as my role is to encourage and challenge - if only a bit. I think if I start forcing the children to do this or that- it will not end well. I simply add a mix and match of activities, AND, since the older children are likely to rotate activities faster than the smaller ones,  in the end it works out- no fuss. They learn and play simultaneously.
stamping/pattern -making
stenciling/ tracing/learning alphabet (both in English & French)
The other issue is time limits. Based on what I just stated, there is no time limit for the younger children- they are really working hard. This rings true for the older children who are doing activities that are age-appropriate. Should a child choose an activity (from the center) that is way too easy, I don't mind, as (s) he has completed the mandatory 2 activities.
various magnets
threading/beading & making patterns
great for hand-strengthening
learning about emotions (English & French)  & matching

Our next post will focus on higher order & lower order questioning.

Weekending Feb 19th (2016)

22.2.16 0 comments
Whether playing inside or outside, at the table or running free, I am often amazed how much energy the children have bottled up.On the mornings when we skip circle, it's really mostly because I see no point in ending OR putting on pause whatever activity they just cannot stop.

Having a daily rhythm really makes a difference when things start to fall out of place- yes that happens.  The biggest bonus is that the children have come to expect that we will follow our routine, and they question the changes (when they do happen). For example, last week was a short week because we had a holiday on Monday. Thus, when we all returned, the children expected soup. Explaining holidays to kids is funny :)

01/ first candle of the day 
02/ drumming circle...about to begin
03/ focused on learning
04/ go-fish
05/ it's a dance off
06/ discovering magnets
07/ early morning painting
08/ searching for pine-cones ...she's in the wrong place
09/ hockey
10/ looking for something or someone
11/ they helped me prepare snack for our outing
12/ the view from where I stood ("picnic" in the park)
13/ dress up
14/ she's having a picnic
15/ clean up time
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