• Melanie Patric

October Spooks


October opened with some rainy days, so we made the best of the days we had to stay inside. Tunnels and tents are so much fun and encourage the children to both exercise their gross motor muscles and their imaginations! It didn't take long before the big kids were creating stories about their tunnels, ranging from losing their dog in a tunnel to being stuck in a cave.

The younger children also love the tunnels, and while they might be a little hesitant at first, after their first trip through the tubes, they always emerge smiling.

Between the rainy days, October treated us to some beautiful sunny fall days with glowing leaves in yellows, auburns, and reds. We had great fun collecting the best samples from the colorful carpet of leaves along our familiar nature trails.

We pondered what made a "good" fall leaf- should it be big or little? Should it be all one color or have multiple colors? Should it be red or yellow? In the end, we decided all the leaves were beautiful in their own way.

We also began noticing some parts of the landscape that had remained hidden by the leaves during the summer, especially one incredible treehouse. Who wouldn't want to go for a ride in an enchanted pirate ship that's skimming the treetops?

The Blue Sky Daycare families had another chance to unite this month at Dave's Pumpkins in Woodstock. There were so many different varieties of pumpkins and so much fun to be had! The children enjoyed picking out pumpkins to bring home and talking about all the different sizes, colors and textures of the pumpkins.

There was more than just pumpkins to be had- the children also enjoyed riding "antique tractors," a small hay bale maze and we shared a hayride as we were pulled behind a tractor through golden fields and shady woods. It was such a fun way to celebrate fall and pumpkin season together! Click through the slideshow below to see how much fun we had!

When we could, we visited the park. It's amazing to watch how children naturally choose the activities that appeal the most to the skills they are in the process of learning and mastering. For a few, it means climbing up and down stairs and over hilly surfaces. For others, that means engaging the vestibular system and learning where their bodies are in space as they swing. For the oldest kids, it often means using the most challenging climbers, jumping from a height, or testing upper body strength.

Far from being only for developing physical strength and endurance, the park is a great place for the children to grow from an social and emotional standpoint. The older children love to take on the role of "guide" as the little ones overcome their trepidation of going down the slide or experience the sensations of swinging.

One of our favorite outdoor adventures during the month of October was visiting the interior of the woods. With the canopy of changing leaves spread overhead and underfoot, the small wooded area nearby served up some autumn magic for the children. We came into the woods with no plans, but before long, each child was engaged in what was the most interesting to him or her- gathering leaves or sticks, digging for acorns, climbing up a slope, or attempting to build a shelter. It's beautiful to see how the natural world appeals to the children on so many levels. It captured and held their interest for over two hours and it was tough to convince them to come back home and enjoy their lunchtime meal!

One of the children celebrated a birthday this month, and so for her special day we made cupcakes! The child, who was turning three, was quite convinced she could make them herself, and so I provided the ingredients and just as much guidance as she needed to make them. Clearly, she had a ton of fun, and her cupcakes were scrumptious!

The children and I had fun exploring textures as we made some pumpkin crayon rubbing artwork. We used many descriptive words to describe the feel of the surfaces we chose to rub- bumpy, rough, scratchy, wavy, and so on. The pictures came out great!

We also did some artwork that showcased negative space as the children used bundled Q-Tips to dab paint on over a stencil of a bat. It was a fun surprise for them to remove the stencil and reveal the clear shape of a bat underneath.

The children expanded their knowledge about bats as we focused on the non-fiction selection Flying Bats. Together we learned about bats because some associate the animal with Halloween and consider them "creepy." Reading this book and doing a fun circle time rhyme about bats helped the kids learn just what amazing creatures bats are! We decided that bats aren't all that creepy after all. Through the month we also read several Halloween-themed books including a fun scratch-and-sniff book The Spooky Smells of Halloween by Mary Man-Kong, And Then Comes Halloween by Tom Brenner which that captures the sweet anticipation as fall arrives and the spectacle of Halloween looms, and a timelessly spooky collection of Halloween poems by Jack Prelutsky.

The children and I finished the month with a wonderful Halloween party. We worked up to it by playing many games of "Trick-or-Treat" in which we donned costumes from the dress-up bin and then practiced walking up to a door, knocking, and saying "trick or treat!" in our loudest voices. Of course, no Halloween would be complete without nice manners, so we also practiced saying "thank you" and "you're welcome" as we gave and received treats (which were most often the small toys we gathered from around the daycare).

To kick off our party, we bobbed for apples! It was fun to try to grab the apples with only our teeth, and a great exercise in self control. It's tough to resist the urge to grab the apples with our hands, but some of us had success!

For those were reluctant to put their faces so close to the water, we allowed reaching in after the brave kids got their apples. Apple bobbing was a fun way to get a delicious, healthy snack.

Next, we carved a pumpkin together. This year we chose a "white" pumpkin. The kids had the chance to explore the feeling of the the stringy, slimy pumpkin "guts," and the smooth seeds. We talked about all the different textures and colors.

Next, we chose what kind of a face we would add to our pumpkin. We used shape sorter shapes to select the shapes we wanted, then I drew and carved the face. Afterward, we put a small lantern light in the pumpkin and observed how the light shone out of the jack-o-lantern's eyes, nose, and mouth.

After finishing our pumpkin, the children and I made some pumpkin shaped Rice Krispie treats colored orange with food coloring. It was harder to form the warm, sticky crisps into balls than any of us thought, but it was still lots of fun and very tasty! We used small tootsie rolls as stems, and our pumpkins were complete. This was a very hands-on process that involved butter and sticky marshmallow, so unfortunately I did not take any pictures of the process.

Next, came the most exciting part- everyone got to put on their costumes, parade around the house, and have a Halloween dance party!

It was a lot of fun and the perfect way to get ready for trick-or-treating later in the evening.

Topping off the fun of Halloween will be tough, but we'll try our best next month!

#circletime #guidedart #pretendplay #cookingwithchildren

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