The Merry Month of May
May's flowers arrived as promised, and we used them to make fabulous flower crowns to celebrate May Day. The children loved searching all over the yard to find cheerful yellow dandelions and got lots of exercise running back and forth with handfuls of flowers to give me. We couldn't have asked for a more beautiful day to celebrate high spring.
Our outdoor explorations have gone beyond picking flowers. We have also enjoyed planting seeds in our flower garden and preparing the vegetable boxes for vegetables. The seeds we started indoors in April have sprouted and have been growing, so we have to be ready when it's time to plant them.
Growing a garden with children is a wonderful way to teach so many different concepts and build character. Throughout this experience we have been talking about plant life cycles, how plants grow, healthy eating, patience, and responsibility.
We've been able to get out and enjoy nature walks again, and the children and I never hurry- we love to take note of changes we see, get excited when we spot animals, and develop gross motor skills as we walk, run, jump, climb, and romp in general.
We have especially been enjoying spotting the wide range of bird species which live in our area- we see everything from chickadees to Sandhill cranes!
The blooming flowers are always lovely to look at as well... and even smell as long as the bumblebees aren't around.
Some of our walks have ended at the park. The children love playing, but what they are really busy doing at the park on a developmental level is so important! Physically, they are building flexibility, coordination, and enhancing their vestibular system, and strengthening their muscles. Socially, they are learning to take turns, help friends, work in teams, engage in conversations, and treat new friends with respect.
Of course, in May we get to honor mothers everywhere, but most especially our own. This year we decided we wanted to make something for our mothers to eat, and we wanted it to be sweet. Some gorgeous purple violet jelly seemed to be just the rare and perfectly special thing to show our mothers how sweet they are!
The children worked at picking wild violets in the nearby nature area.
When we had 4 cups of violet blossoms, together we rinsed them and then carefully poured hot water over them. The flowers steeped in the refrigerator overnight to extract the maximum amount of the violets' delicate essence.
Next, the children took turns scooping the sugar we'd need into a bowl.
A little spill was no big deal!
We observed the blue color of the water that the violets had steeped in, then squeezed the juice from one lemon. As if by magic (but actually because of the reaction between the alkaline violet water and the acidic lemon juice) the violet water changed from murky blue to a lovely violet when the lemon juice was mixed in!
A little while later, the older children helped ladle the hot jelly into jars through a funnel, and our sweet Mother's Day treat was half done.
The other half of the Mother's Day treat was making our special homemade rolls. We have a very special recipe which was passed on from a beloved Early Childhood teacher to our family, and it is both healthy and delicious. The children all helped measure and dump ingredients into the big mixing bowl. Later, they helped knead and form the rolls.
The Mother's Day gifts were delivered with great pride and were enjoyed by all.
Another project we worked on this month involved a combination of process and guided art. The children and I discussed the difference between warm colors and cool colors, then made painting with colors from each side of the pallate. The children were free to experiment with mixing the colors as they wanted.
Later, we cut the dried paintings into pieces and created flower collages with them. They turned out beautifully!
As the month unfolded, more and more flowers burst into bloom and as we noticed new flowers on our nature walks, we took the time to stop and smell (or puff on!) them.
Supplying the children with toys that appeal to a wide range of ages is a great way to foster play across age groups. Here, you can see the littlest Blue Sky Daycare child investigating a stuffed animal...
... this simple play expands when older children get involved and create a pretend play scenario (in this case, serving pizza to dogs!).
We had some lovely park visits during the month of May. It's amazing how much of a difference a year makes in the physical growth and competence of the children. The same children who were hesitantly toddling around the play yard a year ago are now dashing confidently from one area to another, climbing, and jumping.
During this visit, we had a guest photographer- my big 7-year-old daughter! She snapped this moment as the littlest Blue Sky Daycare child was having fun in the swing. Those sweet smiles just fill my heart!
One of our fun outdoor activities involved taking turns hiding and finding "treasure." One child hid a variety of rocks throughout the back yard, then the rest of the children took turns finding them. It was a fun way to use problem solving skills and continue to work on gross motor skills.
Once the weather was truly balmy, we took some time to begin exploring water. It's so much fun for the children to learn about what happens when you put a sponge in the water, and splash, pour, and dump the water. Water play is the perfect opportunity to learn about the properties of liquid and can be a springboard for interesting conversations. For example, we pour the water that is left in the containers into the gardens, and we've had great conversations about how doing so helps the plants grow.
We also had tons of sensory fun using the slip-n-slide. The cool, slippery surface is great for beginning walkers to grow their balance, strength, and endurance all while having a great deal of fun!
Near the end of May we planted the rest of our vegetable garden. The children adore helping plant- they love taking care of the "baby" plants. Planting tender new vegetables and herbs together fosters an amazing sense of responsibility in the children, and they get excited to visit the gardens every day to see what has changed and to make sure the plants have everything they need to grow.
As we transition from May to June, I'll be looking forward to lots more time in the great outdoors, and I can't wait to work with the children on more fun themes in June!