From “Caterpillar to Butterfly” and a Pop-Up Flower Shop…Day 51

During the seven years l taught kindergarten, one of my favorite things to do with my class was to order Painted Lady caterpillars from Insect Lore. My students and I enjoyed watching these teeny, tiny caterpillars grow and change; first into a chrysalis’ and then transform themselves into beautiful butterflies! It amazes me that the entire metamorphosis took a mere 3 to 4 weeks!

The caterpillars in my daughter’s classroom have all changed into chrysalises and her teacher placed them into the butterfly net. The caterpillar cam has been turned off, for now, as the metamorphosis begins. While we wait, my daughter and I continued our study of butterflies with some exciting activities. Our day ended with back yard play and an impromptu pop up flower shop in the backyard.

A Butterfly Garden– After completing the Scholastic Learn From Home module “From Caterpillar to Butterfly,” we went outside and planted some wildflowers that are supposed to attract butterflies. My daughter loves the dirt and is looking forward to watering her flowers everyday.

“The Very Hungry Caterpillar Yoga”– There are extensive benefits of doing yoga with children! Yoga improves their physical, mental, emotional and social health. From helping to balance energy levels and calming the nervous system, to building sensory awareness, flexibility and balance, yoga is simply amazing! My daughter needs to develop these skills so doing activities like yoga do not come naturally and it’s difficult to get her to do it without a fight! Her teacher recommended Cosmic Yoga, engaging story based yoga for kids presented by storyteller, Jaime Amor. My daughter was resistant at firs, but after awhile, to my great surprise, she began to request Cosmic Yoga! Amor has created yoga stories for just about any theme you can think of. From “The Wizard of Oz,” to “Star Wars,” to “Frozen,” everyone will find something they like! CLICK HERE to do “Very Hungry Caterpillar” yoga.

Pattern Block Creations– We used pattern blocks to create caterpillars and then we made symmetrical butterflies. We also played a symmetry game found here. Young children have a strong intuitive sense of symmetry. Research shows that knowing symmetry helps us learn things like graphing, understanding negative numbers and how to simplify complex information.

Pop-Up Flower Shop– Being an only child my daughter effectively plays independently and benefits greatly from child-directed, free play opportunities. One of her favorite places to play, during the quarantine, is in our backyard. Today she created an impromptu flower shop after gathering wildflowers in the field behind our house. She got plastic containers out of her water play toys and used them as vases. She used her toy phone to talk to customers and solicited me as her number one customer! I gladly joined in and helped direct her imaginative play. I asked the following questions…How much do the flowers cost? What is the name of her shop? Can she created mixed bouquets? I provided paper and crayons and encouraged her to create a menu for her shop, listing the prices for her various creations. By guiding her play, I was able to introduce new vocabulary and incorporate literacy skills in a fun, engaging way. CLICK HERE to read a short article about the benefits of adult guidance in play (or learning).

Workout Wednesday (Week of the Young Child)…Day 44

Today was Workout Wednesday. The children were asked to wear their favorite sports gear and my daughter dressed in a St. Louis Cardinals shirt. The absence of sports is simply bizarre, like a scene from the Twilight Zone. Although I’m not a huge sports fan, if the Cardinals are playing, the game would surely be on in our home. The non-existence of the announcers and cheering fans is unsettling. My husband is a loyal University of Kentucky Wildcat basketball fan and he rarely misses a game. The abrupt ending to their season, along with the cancelling of March Madness, leaves me heartbroken for college and high school athletes across our country.

Today was about something more than sports, it was about moving, building and playing. When children build and play together they experience teamwork and develop their social and early literacy skills.

Get Moving– My daughter and I enjoyed moving to the sounds of Koo Koo Kanga Roo. I wrote about this dynamic duo last month. CLICK HERE to learn more. We also enjoyed dancing to The Freeze. CLICK HERE to move along with Greg & Steve and CLICK HERE for another popular freeze game.

Constructing a Cat Condo– Although I had plans for us to play a movement game with dice and another game with bean bags, my daughter had other plans. She asked if she could use some of the recyclables laying around the house for a project. She wanted to construct a cat condo, or exercising station, for her cat stuffed animals. This construction occupied her attention all afternoon. Without any direction from me she proceeded to get a tape measure and used it to determine how long she needed to cut the piece of string for the feather toy. She used two lemonade containers as the foundation and taped a paper towel around one bottle to create a scratching post. The structure included a cat walk across the top along with an automatic feeder in the middle. I was a bit unsettled because we didn’t complete the suggested plans sent by her teacher. But her teacher reminded me that my daughter had done tremendous work!! She was using math, science and problem solving skills and gained a sense of accomplishment as a result!Today was another reminder that things don’t always go as planned and that is…OK! As our family of three navigates this time of uncertainty we need to continue to be open and flexible. For wondrous things can happen from the unexpected!

Kids Choice Day…Scooter Rides, Outside Games, Alleluia Shakers and Water Play… Day 17

A brilliant mom friend of mine started “Kids Choice Day,” every Wednesday, so I thought my daughter and I would give it a try! Our children are in the middle of a world crisis so a day where they have a bit more “control” of their world will be good for the entire family! On “Kids Choice Day” the kiddos get to decide what their day is going to look like from what they eat for breakfast and lunch to what activities they engage in throughout the day. My daughter began by drawing a map of things she wanted to do. My picky eater had no special food requests.

Outdoor Play- It was beautiful weather so we spent the majority of our day outside. From scooter rides to playing on our backyard playground to water play, an afternoon of sun and fresh air was the perfect choice!

Outdoor Games– I printed out a bunny themed game board from my daughter’s teacher and we enjoyed playing this dice game while sitting on a blanket in our backyard. CLICK HERE to download the game board. We also enjoyed coloring and doing a puzzle outside!

Easter Egg Workout– Another great suggestion from Mrs. Stanglein, my daughter’s teacher, really got us moving! I printed one exercise on a slip of paper and placed a slip in an Easter egg. My daughter selected an Easter egg from the basket and I read the slip and we performed that exercise. You could include the following.. 5 sit ups, 10 jumping jacks, run around the house 3 times, do a bear crawl, 10 toe touches. Have fun making up your own!

Alleluia Shakers- During Lent we put our Alleluias away but on Easter morning every church family will sing “Alleluia!”We made Alleluia shakers by filling a plastic Easter egg with rice (you could also use beans) and then decorating the outside. We made some for our family of three but also made some to add to the weekly supplies we deliver to grandparents and to a family friend. We will shake our eggs whenever we say or hear Alleluia during virtual church on Easter Sunday.

Ms. Pac-Man– I love the game Ms. Pac Man so my husband (boyfriend at the time) gifted me with a vintage Ms. Pac Man machine many years ago. It sits in our unfinished basement but every so often my daughter and I will sneak downstairs and play a game or two. The machine has a special chip inside that includes a cheat mode so we could play the game forever! My daughter shares the love of Ms. Pac Man because she included it on her map for Kids Choice Day!

Keep Playing… I can’t stress the importance of play, especially during this time of added stress and mixed up routine. Children learn and grow through play. Play helps them make sense of their world and process what they are learning. We ended our day with water play. My daughter requested it and asked if she could play with her “My Little Pony” figures in the water. I sat back with an adult beverage, this Noteworthy Mommy needed a break after our day of play, and I simply observed her. I love when her animals have dialogue with each other. In this scene my daughter was pretending the ponies were Jesus and His twelve disciples. The pony playing the part of Jesus was washing His disciples feet. I heard her mention Simon and Judas. We had just discussed this event during Jesus Time last night. This unscheduled, unforced event was filled with the joy of learning and brought happy tears to my eyes! And in case you were wondering, Rainbow Dash played the part of Jesus. 


Play Dough, Painting, Playing and a Birthday Parade… Day 12 Activities

My daughter just wasn’t feeling it today so I didn’t push her. She really needed a day of free play and rest so that is exactly what we did!

Play Dough- – Is there anything better than a giant batch of fresh play dough? My daughter enjoyed helping me make homemade play dough. As I stated in an earlier post, the best play dough recipes are the ones that require heat. I used my tried and true preschool play dough recipe, shared with me by a former teaching partner twenty-five years ago!! (How can I be that old?) Play dough making is filled with countless learning opportunities… math, measuring, science (color mixing) and following directions. My daughter requested purple play dough and we added a vanilla scent. Don’t forget to add a color and a scent. Some people add glitter for extra fun! Once your play dough is ready, use cookie cutters, scissors and straws as play dough tools. We made pretend cookies and constructed numbers. (roll the play dough into long skinny snakes and then construct numbers)Painting– People have posted some beautiful stained glass window creations on line. We used paint dobbers designed for windows and painted stained glass crosses on several of our interior windows. My daughter really enjoyed painting and said, “Now when we have church at home our house will look like church too!”

The Power of Play– Young children learn the best through play and they need to engage in imaginative play often so they can learn and grow not only academically but socially and emotionally. My daughter uses a sweet high pitched voice when she creates dialogue for her action figures or stuffed animals. Our home was filled with the sweet sound of play and through this play my daughter was learning to navigate her new reality, After she played with her toys for a awhile she was happier and better equipped to face the rest of the day.

Birthday Parade– A preschool friend turned five today and we participated in her birthday parade. A birthday parade was exactly what we needed to raise our spirits and we ended the day on a happy note! We used the paint dobbers made for windows to decorate the windows in daddy’s truck. Then we made a sign and added some balloons. During the parade my daughter and I jumped in the bed of the truck and held our signs for the birthday girl to see. We also made a special birthday card for the birthday girl.