Drawing on a vertical surface is cool. Drawing on a clear surface is very cool. Put it together and what have you got, a project that interests and captures the kids for a long period of time.
Little K gets these window markers for a birthday present back in the beginning of December. It has been a hit since then. The boys and girls love to fill the sliding glass doors with drawings. It’s a very large surface and give them lots of big arm space to move the markers around. They make up stories as they draw about whales and people.
A friend of mine said the ones I have are better than ones she’s used in the past. Her markers crumbled and left bits on the floor that carried to the rest of the house. This didn’t happen with mine and they are very easy to wash off with a window cleaner, in fact, the boys might like washing the windows just as much as drawing on them.
Crayola Washable Window Markers
Just the name of this game will put the sheen of delight in a little boys face.
Little J has been hesitant to join in on competitive games at his little Jr Movers class at the YMCA. But when the teachers announce the game of the day, it’s on!
There are cones spread out all over the gym. Some are standing upright, some are down on their sides.
The kids are split into 2 teams, Builders and Bulldozers.
The Builders have to right the cones and the Bulldozers have to tip them on their sides.
The boys leave class sweaty and satisfied.
“Milk in the batter! Milk in the batter! We bake cake and nothing’s the matter!”
On a rainy day, the boys put in a request in for a favorite treat of Friend A, pumpkin muffins. His mommy shared the recipe and the flour did fly. The boys help to add ingredients, stir and even scoop the batter into the muffin tins. We made a mess, and the muffins never tasted better.
This recipe makes A LOT of Pumpkin Muffins. You can easily half the recipe, or freeze half of the muffins.
3 1/3 cups flour
3 cups sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ground ginger
2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp nutmeg
Mix Dry ingredients and add,
1 cup oil
2/3 cup water
2 cups of pumpkin (We did not have any pumpkin, so I used organic sweet potatoes from my CSA loot. Worked great)
Grease and flour muffin tin. Fill with batter, 3/4 full. Cook at 350 for a out 15 minutes for mini muffins, 20-30 for regular size.
“So he skipped from the oven and into bread dough all ready to rise in the night kitchen.”
In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak
“I have a lot of songs. They’re all in my belly and they come out of my mouth.”
The kids pull out the basket of instruments that we’ve accumulated over the past couple years. There are some toy instruments that are super resilient and small, and we also have a couple of “real” instruments, an electric keyboard, a drum from my brother’s old drum set and my guitar.
The boys can use these real instruments as long as they’re gentle with the. The take turns experimenting with sounds.
Little J and Friend H are super excited with an idea to play “rock band.” The kids each choose they’re favorite instrument, somehow managing not to argue over who gets what. And they Rock Out.
Little K’s little class at the YMCA, Crazy Concoctions, plant marigolds for mother’s day. They talk about the seeds, they scoop soil, insert seed and water. That reminds me, it’s time to plant seeds for the veggie garden.
Of course, there are so many different ways to go about planting…right in the ground, starting inside then hardening off, buying saplings from a nursery, etc. We start seeds from inside. The best tutorial I’ve found for going about starting seeds indoors comes from Kitchen Encounter Chronicle. The tutorial instructs us to reuse egg cartons, and I like that.
We buys seeds, dig some dirt from the garden, fill a sand bucket, 1/2 dirt and 1/2 compost. Shovel this mixture into the egg cartons.
When the egg cartons are full of dirt, poke a little finger into each cup. Plant seeds according the seed package instructions. Cover lightly with soil and water gently. Keep in a sunny part of the house. I keep ours at the window sill in the kitchen where sun beams in most of the day. It’s also a spot close to water. I check on the egg cartons and sprinkle with water every day. It’s so much fun to watch them pop.
When the sprouts pop and have grown about 2 inches, we slowly introduce the plants to the outdoors by bringing them outside during the day for longer and longer periods of time, eventually leaving them out at night and transplanting into the garden bed.
We have planted beets, carrots, spinach, cucumber, pumpkins, broccoli, morning glories and sunflowers. The flowers are a new adventure.
For this playgroup of children ranging in age from under 1 year to 4 years, we follow instructions to make a recycled garden tile from NurtureStore.
bag of cement, mortar mix
large container and a hoe to mix the cement
small molds, shoe box with plastic bag inserted, old take out plastics
beautiful stuff, recycled found objects
hose for washing off hands and whatever else gets dipped in the mix
Dump bag of cement into the large container, add water slowly while mixing together with hoe. When the consistency of the cement mix allows it to easily slip off the hoe, it’s ready. Have the parents and children work together to fill the molds with cement, 1 inch deep at least. The thicker the stronger.
Decorate with beautiful stuff.
Let dry in the sun.
Place in a special spot in the garden.
Some of the younger children REALLY want to put their hands in the cement mix, and because we know our kids, we anticipate this before hand and supply a process table full of sand and baby oil with larger beautiful stuff, separated out for the babies in attendance.
“I like playing hide and seek with my mom, she makes good noodles. She looks pretty when she goes to meetings at school.” Little J
“I like reading books with my mom. She makes really good beans. I like going to mountains with mom. She looks pretty in her runninng shoes. And she runs, runs, runs.” Little K
The teachers organize a precious Mother’s Day Tea at the boys’ school. It is the event of the year for Co-op moms, or aunts, grandmothers, there was even a dad there this year.
The kids work all week preparing food, decorating the classroom and creating little gifts to give. Little J and K planted a flower in a little painted pot, made a great card with a drawing of mom on the front and wrote the cutest things inside, like, “my mom makes really good beans.”
This year there was a garden tea party theme. We were served peach herbal tea by the kids. We had garden pizza, made with pizza dough topped with veggie dip and raw veggies. There were blueberry muffins and cantaloupe slices. The dessert was a strawberry rhubarb tort. Everything was delicious.
No, I’m not joking. The horse manure in question is composted and fine, the finest soil, actually. There a huge mountain of it at an Equestrian Center we visit to watch my niece on a drill team.
The boys only last so long watching the show and quickly find the very large pile of manure, a giant sifter and conveniently, a couple of shovels. I could not have set up a more appropriate provocation.
The pile is close enough to the show that the boys can be engrossed in play while the adults watch my niece’s performance on the drill team. The boys slide down the pile, create avalanches, found worms, separate rocks, and get thoroughly soiled and are thoroughly satisfied.
Isn’t letting kids play in dirt good for allergies and the immune system? That’s not a problem here.
We end the morning with some snacks for the horses and a great family get together.
I’ve introduced a new art word to Friend H. She uses fragrant pine needles and other natural materials found inside of our trampoline to create a work of art, Land Art. She loves arranging and I love watching her happily inventing new little worlds. I take a photo and call it Land Art. For her, it’s a proud moment when her usual play is positively encouraged, elevated to a honored level.
After I take the first photo, she adds more and asks me to take another photo, calling it phase 2.
Our garden from last year is overrun by low lying weeds, so we get out the pokey tools and get to work. The boys really love digging in the garden, so much so, that I like to leave a small section unplanted for them to play in. The whole square is ours for playing now. No seeds or saplings are planted yet.
Before we seed or plant, we will prep our soil. That entails, separating all the weeds from the soil, testing the ph, adding some wood ash or compost according to the results of the test, and turning the soil like a big batch of brownie dough. It’s dark and rich and smells wonderful.
Wood ash, lime, compost and ph testing kits can all be found at your local gardening store.
Little J finds a wheel barrow and fills it with the weeds. He makes monster soup.
We will be starting our seeds indoors and hardening them off when they’ve grown. Last year was the first time we moved plants from inside to outside without them wilting away. We’re hoping for that same success this year.
We rented this book from the library and it very simply described how to prep the soil and moved plants from inside to outside. It’s also filled with lots of great gardens to plant with children.
“All knowledge is rooted in wonder, and what better place to cultivate wonder than in our own garden.”