The Blue Sky Daycare children enjoyed a month filled with flowers in May. We started the month by planting snapdragons and pansies in the flower garden.
The children took turns using a trowel to make a hole for their seedling and then gently tucking the seedling in. The children watched the slow but sure growth of the flowers as the month progressed.
Following their gardening, the children worked on making paper mache paste so they could make a piñata for Cinco de Mayo. One by one the children stirred water into flour and a pleasantly gooey paste was made.
This was a great sensory activity for the children, who enjoyed the cool, slippery, gooey feel of the paste immensely.
The next step in the construction of the piñata was to tear and cut newspaper into strips, then the children took turns dipping the strips into the paste, using their fingers as squeegees to wipe most of the paste off, and then placing the strips over a balloon. These were all wonderful fine motor activities for little hands!
Two coats of newspaper created a sturdy piñata for the children to decorate, so after some drying time, the children were able to use red, yellow, and blue paint to make the piñata bright and colorful.
The finished piñata was certainly a sight to behold, and the children couldn't wait to find out what was inside!
We celebrated Cinco de Mayo with a dance party to traditional Mexican music, ate a meal of corn tortillas, homemade pico de gallo, black bean and corn salad, cheese, and a squeeze of lime. Yum! Once we were finished with our Cinco de Mayo lunch, we headed outside to take a swing at the piñata. Several rounds of swings from the children finally yielded a shower of shiny glitter and colorful confetti!
The children were ready to move right from our Cinco de Mayo celebration to working on Mother's Day presents. We decided to make violet jelly and some brown sugar hand and foot scrub to pamper the children's mothers.
The children loved picking the plentiful purple violets that lined the forest floor of our nearby nature area and collected the violets in bags. All the bending, stretching, and walking was great for the children's gross motor development and was a very natural way for them to develop their balance and coordination.
Once the violets were gathered and washed, the children picked off the stems and left the fresh-smelling flower heads in a colander. We had quite a pile!
Next, boiling water was added to the flowers and the mixture was steeped like tea and then drained. The resulting liquid was a clear, vivid blue. The children were excited to find out what would happen to the liquid if we added tangy lemon juice, but they did not expect that the blue liquid would turn a beautiful shade of violet... in fact, it turned the exact color of the flowers themselves! While the children are too young to understand the chemistry, it is clear that they enjoyed watching and thinking about the surprising change.
Our other Mother's Day project involved lots of scooping and dumping, which is great for fine motor skills. The children scooped brown sugar into small glass jars with a spoon. This is a challenging task to complete neatly for children of this age, but an activity that is immensely enjoyed. Once the children filled their jars, they carefully poured olive oil into the jar and used their spoons to mix the sugar and the oil. Lastly, the children got to smell grapefruit, orange, and peppermint essential oils and choose the one they wanted to add to the scrub. This was a fun sensory activity for the children, and they expressed enjoyment or distaste for the smells in turn. The children proudly screwed the lids onto their jars after all their careful work, and we put the jars into reusable muslin bags they had painted using a butterfly stencil and paint.
Pride and love shown on the children's faces as they presented their gifts to their mothers. Spending time thinking about their mothers and creating handmade gifts really helps the children make the connection between giving and enjoyment and helps foster generosity, a social grace that will serve them well throughout their life.
One of our side projects during the month of May was learning about frogs. We read books about frog lifestyles, colored pictures of different frog species, and enjoyed lots of leaping, jumping froggy games!
We rounded out the end of May with some more flower activities. The children used forks to paint fluffy yellow dandelions one day, then created a coordinating project by using Q-tips to paint white "puffball" dandelions the next. It doesn't matter if the flowers are newly opened or seedheads- children love bright, cheerful dandelions!
Our last May activity involved collecting a variety of flowers and leaves from around our yard to make sun prints with. We named the plants as we picked them, then examined what we had and grouping our finds according to a variety of characteristics (leaves vs flowers, green, yellow, purple, etc.).
Next, the children took turns placing their desired plants onto a piece of paper treated with light-sensitive chemicals. The paper started out blue, but after a few minutes in the sun, it changed to nearly white. A rinse under water changed the color yet again and the image reversed again. The children were quite intrigued by the changing colors and it was fun for them to guess which flowers made the resulting silhouettes.
May was so much fun for all of us here at Blue Sky Daycare! I can't wait to find out what June will be like!