My kids are incredibly irritable these days. I'm sure the constant cold weather is partially to blame; they are so tired of being inside, but with the high hovering around -20C most days, we haven't ventured out much lately. The usual activities are not capturing their interest (even dancing!), so I've been turning to the one thing that never ceases to engage my tactile kids: sensory play.
Now that the days are shorter, my early-to-bed kids are able to see the night sky more often. The moon and the stars have always been a source of beauty and excitement for Yummy. She never gets tired of racing to the window to wish on stars or to see the moon, whether it is night or day. With this month's full moon happening this Sunday, I decided that now would be a great time to start a themed unit for the kids to explore the wonder of the night sky. You can check out your local moon phases at almanac.com.
This is the first post in my series of three: here are Part Two (Art Appreciation & Painting with Van Gogh) and Part Three (Full Moon Artwork, FREE Counting Stars printable, & Galaxy PlayDough)
Every August, my cousin, sister-in-law and our kids all get together at our Grandma's place to pick crabapples from her trees and enjoy a potluck lunch all together. I love this yearly rhythm that has developed and can imagine the warm memories that Yummy is building from this growing tradition. It surprised me that she had visual memories of putting apples in baskets and following her cousins through the tree rows from last summer (a whole year seems very long for a four-year-old), but she mentioned these things before I did, after I told her we would soon be going to pick apples again.
I just ordered seeds for my garden and am looking forward to digging in the dirt once the snow all melts away. Yummy, being a fan of anything Outdoors, is also looking forward to getting out her little watering can and putting some seeds in the ground. To satisfy our longing for Spring yesterday, we set to work building our own little garden, using brown play dough and sculpted vegetables.
You Will Need:
Exploring a New Medium: Sculpey / Oven-Bake Clay
I have had a big package of Sculpey in my art cabinet for ages, hoarding it for something wonderful. Yummy was excited to try out a new material, but quickly found that it is much stiffer to work with than play dough. I showed her how to warm a small piece up between her hands to make it more workable. While she was exploring the clay, we talked about the different vegetables we will plant in our garden this year. I made a list and drew a little picture for Yummy to connect the word to.
I treasure quiet mornings. I love being awake in a sleeping house, sitting on my puffy couch with a hot cup of coffee and seeing what is new and awesome on Pinterest, basking in sheer silence. And I don't particularly like talking for an hour or two, if possible.
Back In The Hills
Since having children (specifically, one that gets up all on her own), those quiet mornings have been shortened, and some days they just don't happen. Getting up at 6:30am helps, but I can't always drag myself out of bed until 7am, a mere 15 minutes before my eldest emerges. A while ago, I came across a post on The Imagination Tree about Creating Invitations to Play -this simple idea has greatly enhanced my mornings! By taking a few minutes in the evening to set something out on Yummy's table, I gain a few more minutes with my coffee and iPad while Yummy explores whatever activity I've set out for her. Dooter usually sleeps in a little later than his sister, so for now I don't set anything out for him, other than the occasional board book for him to peruse.
Simple Set Up & Clean Up
My mission is to keep it simple. It shouldn't take me more than five minutes to set something up and it shouldn't require a whole lot of clean up. I keep a list of ideas tacked inside the art cabinet next to the little table so I don't have to think very hard about what I am doing. I often put the activity on a cookie sheet so it is easy to bring to the sink for cleaning, if needed, or move out of the way if Dooter shouldn't be stuffing it in his mouth.
Yummy is always excited to race upstairs and see what is waiting for her on her table (no matter how simple the activity is) and I have grown to look forward to setting out a surprise activity for her each morning. I like the chance to introduce her to a new combination of art materials, or to bring out something she hasn't looked at in a while. Some of these activities I created beforehand, so they don't take any extra work now to get them out.
Here's my list of Easy Morning Activities:
*Each photo below contains a longer description, if you click on it.
**Click a photo for a description!