Winter Early Childhood Conference

I am super excited to be a presenter for the VIRTUAL 2017 Winter Early Childhood Conference. My session is titled, “Exploring Winter with Children” and its jam packed with practical ideas to get children actively engaged outside in the colder months!

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Over the years I’ve taken many different trainings from Fairy Dust Teaching…and love the convenience of staying home while I learn new things.

And now I get to give back, and be a presenter myself!

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If you’d like more information about the conference, check out this link!

https://io156.isrefer.com/go/winterconference/azajko/

 

 

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Snowflake Catching Necklaces

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I had this brainstorm a few years ago when I was outside with my son. We were trying to catch snowflakes on black felt and black construction paper but they kept bending in half and blowing in the wind. My son had his mittens on so he was even more frustrated by not being able to hold the paper well.

That’s when it hit me, I need to make some “Snowflake Catching Necklaces”!

I wanted something that could hang around his neck so when he lost interest it could just hang there. I also wanted it to be firm enough that it wouldn’t fold or bend. I decided an old CD with a ribbon attached could fit this purpose.

To make them I covered one side with dark colored felt. The felt works well because it’s fuzzy texture kind of makes the snowflakes stand up so you can view it from multiple angles. I also made sure that the ribbon was long enough to easily fit over a hood or hat since these will be used while we have our big winter coats on.

For the reverse side of the snowflake catchers I have made a couple of different versions:
* For some I added a felt pocket where a magnifying glass could be stored. To make it more portable, I attached a plastic magnifying glass onto another ribbon so it would all stay together. (This option proved a little hard for 3 year olds to operate though.)
* Another idea was to draw a few types of common snowflakes to use as a quick reference.
* My favorite choice for preschoolers is to the leave the back side blank so they have a “mirror”. They like to check themselves, especially if they are trying to catch falling snowflakes on their tongues! This mirror would also be fun to show them how to make reflections with the sun and send an S.O.S. message!

Class set for my preschoolers…now if only we could have a nice snowfall!

Happy Snowflake Catching! Be sure to look up the life story of Snowflake Bentley, whose passion was catching and photographing snowflakes!

I also have a great Pinterest board of fun ideas to do outdoors in winter!

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Holiday Card Making Station Ideas

img_3410A card making station is a great way to inspire open-ended exploration and creativity while encouraging fine motor development, as well as early reading and writing skills. Prior to introducing the children to the station, gather up materials that you have on hand and set it up all in one place that can be left for several days (or weeks). Aim to make the materials all items that the children can use independently, so they can create on their own without much adult help. If you leave the card making station set up over time, occasionally swing by when not in use to tidy up and add one or two new tools or materials to keep the area inviting and sparking new ideas. As you add new supplies, take some of the other items away. Make sure that the area doesn’t become cluttered or children will feel overwhelmed by the choices and may find it harder to create.

 

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General materials to start with:

Pre-folded blank cards (made from card stock or construction paper)

Envelopes that fit the size of cards available

Clear tape on a dispenser

Colored masking tape or painters tape

Hole Punch

Kid scissors

Markers or crayons

Glue stick or white glue

Name cards (on index cards write the names of family and friends for the children to copy)

Word wall (write down holiday words that children might like to copy: Merry Christmas/ To:  From:  / Love)

Materials or tools to add to keep the station interesting:

Colored copy paper or construction paper

Decorative paper punches

Decorative scissors (“Crazy Scissors” is what my students call them)

Do-a-Dot markers (careful since these can stain)

Foam shapes (to glue on)

Gel pens on black paper

Gift tag stickers or Paper gift tags and string

Glitter (if you’re brave)

Glitter glue

Holiday scrap booking paper

Holiday stickers

Photographs

Recycled cards from last year – cut out interesting pictures and collage

Recycled cards with hole punches on the edges & yarn to lace

Ribbon

Rubber stamps and stamp pads

Stamp markers

Tissue paper (pre-cut into squares for younger children)

White crayons on dark blue paper

For older preschoolers:

Stapler

Washable paint

Watercolor paints

Wrapping paper and clear tape

Open-ended craft supplies (transform the card making station into a ornament/gift making)

Beads

Bows

Buttons

Card stock

Cookie cutters (dip into paint and stamp / use to trace onto cards)

Curling ribbon

Gem stickers

Hemp twine

Pipe cleaners

Pom Poms

Popsicle sticks

Ribbon

Sequins

Stickers

Wiggly eyes

Wooden beads

Yarn

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Rabbit Hole

IMG_6614It’s so easy to log onto the computer in search of something, but fall into a never ending rabbit hole. I find this especially to be the case when I go looking for a new idea for my classroom. The eye candy of Pinterest, the thoughtful words of a teacher blog, and the quality resources on NAEYC are often the three main destinations of my rabbit hole journeys. {Oh wait…something on Facebook caught my eye, who just posted this funny video of two toddlers stealing each other pacifiers?}

I often start off on the path with a specific goal in mind (hmmm…how could I make my daily calendar time more child centered), but then I get sidetracked by other brilliant ideas, interesting looking activities, and delicious looking recipes. I change direction many times during one of these (near daily) rabbit hole adventures. I end up somewhere I didn’t know that I was headed, somewhere unexpected, and most often, somewhere inspiring. Quite often I never really fulfill the goal of my original quest before I realize it’s time to log off and rejoin reality. {You know, like make a real dinner for the family instead of pinning scrumptious desserts.}This of course means that tomorrow, I have reason to go back again to seek my answer. Luckily this meandering path often turns out to be more productive than a quick answer to my initial question since my discoveries often inspire my teaching, and give me new questions to ponder on my journey to be a be a lifelong learner.

Often on these serendipitous excursions, I yearn to create and share content on the web myself. As a way to share my voice, my experiences, and my passions, I often wish I had enough time to maintain my own website. In fact, if I reigned in my time on my journeys, I could create the time to write and publish. Perhaps this is the year that I commit to writing a weekly blog, so others might reach my thoughts along their own journeys. In fact, if you are reading this, you likely set out seeking an answer and found your way here!

 

 

Gardening All Year: The Circle Widens

IMG_2586This week I had the fine pleasure of being a presenter in Sally of Fairy Dust Teaching’s 2016 Summer Early Childhood Online Conference. What an honor it is to be a presenter with such a rich and knowledgeable group of educators. I am humbled, and honored for the many comments that were shared after folks watched my e-course.

I feel like my circle of friends has widened, and I am eager to share resources with everyone. My blog is in it’s sapling stage, but I hope that you check back.
I will set up my opt-in this weekend, and by subscribing to my newsletter, I will share a big packet of ideas (more than what was in the slide show) to get you “gardening all year” with your children.

Thanks again for stopping by!

April

 

For more information about the 2016 Summer Early Childhood Conference click here:

Summer Conference

 

For the love of fiddle heads…

imageThere is something magical about fiddleheads. That first sprouting of life. Vibrant green and spiraling. My children love to forage for fiddle heads in the forest on our land. It’s a sure sign that spring really is happening…which is a long and patience testing process in northern Vermont.

This year’s harvest was gathered by my children and enjoyed at several meals this week. It’s wonderful to see my children’s delight in brining home something they’ve wild crafted on their own, and even more delightful to watch them devour a food that many would find “too earthy”.

The joy of feasting on natures bounty with my family fills my heart. ❤️