Sunday, 15 December 2013

Homemade Candy Cane Playdough

                I posted a picture of my candy cane play dough I made this weekend on my personal facebook page. I had several people ask for the recipe so I decided to do a blog post about it. The great thing about homemade play dough is the opportunities are endless! We've made pumpkin pie, pizza, lemon poppy seed, and glitter play dough which all the children seem to enjoy. This candy cane play dough takes about 10 minutes to make, and did I mention you cook it in the microwave?


2 cups  All Purpose Flour
1 cup   Salt
2 cups  Water
1 tablespoon  Oil
1 teaspoon  Cream of Tartar
Food Coloring
*Peppermint Extract

*I didn't measure the peppermint extract, just poured about 3 tablespoons in the mix. 

                  Once you combine all the ingredients in a microwave safe bowl cook the dough for two and a half minutes. Stir several times and cook for another two and a half minutes. After the dough is done cooking, take it out of the bowl and mix it together. Let cool.

                  After the play dough cools down it's ready to play with or be put in containers for gift giving! (If you notice the dough to be a little too soft you can add a little bit more flour and salt to the mix.) I bought small containers, cookie cutters, and candy canes from the dollar store to put in little holiday bags. They look so cute all packaged up and make a perfect gift for the holidays!

                                                                                                                       ---- Leslie Dionne

Friday, 22 November 2013

House in the Woods

             On our property we are fortunate enough to have a big section of woods available to us. The children really seem to enjoy the woods, and it is truly amazing to see how engaged the children become using just the natural world around them.

One morning some of the 4 year olds decided they wanted to build a house like the after school group did this summer. After some brainstorming and discussion the children decided where the best location would be for the house. When they found the perfect spot they told me it was the best place because there were bigger trees that could help be the walls.  Before I could even ask them what’s next they were off running looking for building materials. They grabbed sticks, branches, brush, logs, and even rocks. They worked together carrying the bigger materials because they were too heavy for one person. The communication being used was remarkable! “You pick up that side, and you hold that branch and we’ll walk really slow so we don’t drop it.” said one little girl. The children were so determined that they didn’t question her authority and followed her directions.

Once the construction began they took pieces of rocks and sticks and were “hammering” the pieces together and also pretending to cut pieces with a “saw.” I assisted the children lifting up the big branches to set up the initial foundation of the house. (Although this was the children’s project I wanted to make sure the branches were safe.) After the main foundation was nice and sturdy the children began adding the walls by layering brush and branches from pine trees. They told me, “We must make sure it’s all covered up so the wind doesn’t come in here.”

In about an hour the children were satisfied with their house and were ready to play in it. However, instead of rushing right in they made sure it was all clean. They took branches and began sweeping the floors and making their beds. Once the house passed the clean inspection they were all inside admiring what they created. I could tell they were so proud at what they built which made me feel proud too.

The next morning a little girl was at the table coloring on a piece of paper. As soon as
she saw me walk in the room she held it up and said, “Look Leslie! It’s a flag for our house! When we go back in the woods I’m going to put it on as a decoration.” When we went outside shortly after she ran straight to the house and I lifted her up to put the flag where she though it looked best. I thought for sure the children would go straight to the house to play but they didn’t. They said they needed to make a path and a fence now. They found logs and set up a fence and laid big branches by the door for a path. When they were finished adding on, they continued by once again, sweeping out their house before they began to play.

This house has been an ongoing project for about three weeks now. Every time the group goes outside they check out their house to make sure no animals knocked it down. It has survived multiple weeks allowing the children to engage in dramatic play outdoors! They added on a fireplace to cook soup and birthday cake that only I can eat!
I think I’ll try bringing out pots and pans for the children to cook with next to extend their outdoor kitchen. The opportunities are endless with our outdoor house so keep an eye out for a future blog post with what unfolds!


Friday, 15 November 2013

Henry Bear

           Henry Bear is a dear friend to all of the staff, children, and families here at Little Munchkins Preschool Center. He is adventurous, a good listener, and has a remarkable wardrobe! Every Friday the children gather together to find out who Henry Bear has chosen to go home with for the weekend. Henry bear has a special bag he goes home in with a journal where the families are welcome to write about the things they’ve done or places they went. On Monday the children cannot wait to share with everyone about their weekend with Henry and sometimes bring in pictures to put on our Henry Bear board.

                This past weekend at our KEEP CALM and PLAY ON conference with Jeff A. Johnson we gave out 13 of Henry Bear’s cousins to different centers within the Maritimes. (We also gave one to Jeff) We explained Henry Bear’s story through a poem and hope that the centers that received a cousin would name their bear and share their stories with us.  

Henry Bear

The story begins about a special bear,

For all the children to love and share.

He lives at preschool where he enjoys to play,

But he gets excited for that special day.

Every Friday he’s off for a weekend to explore,

Of adventures, surprises, and cuddles galore!

Vacations, holidays, boo boos, and sick days,

No matter what happens Henry Bear stays.

A friend to all, we love him so,

He’s been through it all, he’s seen us grow.

Henry Bear’s cousins are here today,

A new friend for you to enjoy and play.

We hope to hear of the journeys they travel,
We know that new adventures are sure to unravel.

                                                                                                   Written by: Leslie Dionne – Little Munchkins Preschool

         Only two days after the conference we received our first post on our facebook page of one of the bear’s adventures! She made it to beautiful Prince Edward Island where she got to see beautiful landscapes! Tír na nÓg Forest School also shared a picture of their new bear (also named Henry) finding his letter on their alphabet trail! We are so excited to see where all the cousins end up in the future!


Friday, 1 November 2013

Hands on Halloween Fun

              Halloween has unsurprisingly been the topic of conversation at Little Munchkins the past few weeks. We thought we would have hands on Halloween fun with lots of sensory activities that the children could touch, smell, hear, and even taste! Because the children appeared to be intrigued by witches we thought what could be more fun than creating our very own magic potions!

                We colored vinegar green and purple and had little bowls of baking soda out. We also had different herbs and spices like cloves, chive, and basil out on a plate. When the children sat down to the table I had them smell the vinegar and asked them what they thought it was. (Stinky magic water was the most popular answer.) They also felt the baking soda and told me it was magic sugar.

                After we investigated all of our materials the fun began! As the children began to mix the vinegar (or magic stinky water) with the baking soda it started to sizzle and bubble in their bowls. The children’s reactions were priceless! They laughed, gasped, and of course screamed as their potions bubbled up. At first they ignored the herbs and spices because they were focused on just making the bubbles, but after a while they began adding them in. Here is what some of the children told me there magic potions did:

Mine is going to turn the whole world crazy because it’s going to turn the whole world grey.”

“My potion is going to make people sick.”

“Mine is going to make people’s heads fall off.”

“This potion is going to make us crazy.”


The children seemed to enjoy cooking so much that we decided to all make pumpkin pie play dough. We wrote out our recipe, gathered our ingredients, and began adding everything in our bowl. The children measured, poured, stirred, and helped us decide how to make the dough orange. Once our cinnamon and nutmeg was mixed in, the children told us “it really smells like a real live pumpkin”.


                      To really get messy we decorated our art room very spooky with our jack o lantern we made and orange lights. On the table we put out worms (colored spaghetti), pumpkin brains (inside of the pumpkin), jello, and pumpkin seeds to explore. Some of the kids had no interest in touching any of these things, while others were sneaking a snack.
                            Topping off our Halloween fun the children helped bake a chocolate cake for afternoon snack. I put the finishing touches to it so the final result would be a surprise. What’s better than a mud, dirt, and worm cake!? It was quite funny to hear the children ask for another helping of worms and dirt.

                                 We hope everyone had a fun and safe Halloween! We can’t wait to see what’s in store for next year!



Friday, 25 October 2013

Bob Is Missing!

Meet Bob.

Bob has been at hot commodity amongst the children at Little Munchkins, and they have made up different ways to incorporate him in their play. Be there is one little problem... Bob is MISSING! The children have all been looking around to see if they can find where he went. He’s not in the tree house, or in the garden, and not buried in the sand. We have a serious case on our hands and we’re not giving up looking until Bob is returned safe and sound.

Earlier this week the children came across three painted rocks in our yard. This could only mean one thing and one thing only; clues to Bob’s disappearance. The children told us that a Leprechaun must have left them because he stole Bob and they are clues to where he is. Everyone decided the only way to get Bob back would be to build a trap to catch the Leprechaun!
We built a few different styled traps throughout the morning to see which one would work best. They decided by the end that a box would be most sufficient. So far we’ve had no luck catching this sneaky Leprechaun, but we will definitely keep you posted!  



Friday, 18 October 2013

Munchkins Mud Canal

             Our morning class project evolved from a small hole in the ground. A child looked at me and said, “I’m going to put my car in there.”  I knew this was more of a question as he wanted my approval for reassurance.  I nodded and said, “Okay however there is a chance it may get stuck”. He eagerly dropped the car into the hole and quickly discovered the car was stuck. I saw the panic come across his face but still didn’t interfere with how to solve his problem. He ran to the other side of the hill and began to dig and sure enough the car was freed from the earth. “AWESOME IT’S A TUNNEL” he replied with lots of excitement.

                Immediately the small hole in the side of the hill grabbed almost everyone’s attention. They were putting sticks and small rocks in and watching them come out. The children soon grabbed a big bin and carried it over to the hose. Once the bin was filled with water it was too heavy for them to lift it. They recruited more friends to help them. “Look Leslie, we’re doing teamwork!” said one girl. They walked very carefully together in order not to spill the water and dumped it into the hole. Water rushed through the tunnel, down the small slope, and pooled into a puddle.  

The children seemed to be disappointed by the outcome they received.  Marci, the other 4 year educator asked them how they thought they could make the water move. The children brainstormed some ideas like adding more water, but realized that would not work. Marci asked, “What if we dig the dirt out from around it?” The children began to dig frantically with their hands, sticks, shovels, and anything they could find within close reach. They also began building canals to change the path of the water. When they were ready for the next load of water they worked together again carrying the bin and
dumping the water into the hole. They observed what they needed to do to make the water flow faster and longer and even patched a wall that was broken so the water wouldn’t escape.

 The children were engaged for most of the morning working on this unplanned project. Team work and problem solving was consistent from start to finish. Listening to these four year olds communicate with each other was truly amazing!  Perhaps we can extend this project by making homemade boats to sail on their next course?


Friday, 11 October 2013

Little Munchkins Family Thanksgiving

Today all the Little Munchkins children and staff worked very hard preparing our annual Thanksgiving dinner. Each age group had a dish they were responsible for to contribute to our meal. The toddlers mashed potatoes, the 2 year olds made apple crisp, the preschoolers peeled potatoes, carrots, and made stuffing. While the after school group made home made ice cream for dessert! (With extra vanilla!)

After the tables were set and food was prepared, we all sat down together as a family to enjoy the meal we all worked so hard on. During the meal everyone went around the table and shared what they were thankful for. 

Homemade placements the children created


                                   Here are what some of the children told us they were thankful for:

"I'm thankful for thanksgiving."
"I'm thankful for food."
"I'm thankful that it is almost the weekend!"
"I'm thankful for my mommy."
"I'm thankful for the surprises my mommy gives me."
"I'm thankful for all my friends."
We hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving with lots of food, family, and happiness! We at Little Munchkins are thankful for the families that have become  a part of our family.

Friday, 4 October 2013

Lucky by Nature!

The weather has been absolutely ideal this entire week. The warm sun has been shining, a refreshing crisp breeze has been in the air, and the autumn colours are stunning. We have been trying to take full advantage of this perfect weather, and what better way to do it then a nature adventure!?

The children put on their boots with excitement and kindly reminded us to bring a bag so we could put in things we found along the way. We left the center and walked through the back yard, into the trail that leads to the road. Immediately, the children were discovering, touching, hearing, and even smelling the world around them. They seemed to really be drawn to the pine trees, calling out every time they saw another one. They touched the needles and told me it “smells
like a Christmas tree”. With each and every step we took our bag was collecting more and more flowers, leaves, grass, sticks,  rocks, and even pieces asphalt that had crumbled off
 the road.

              The road next to our center eventually turns into a dirt path.  The children are always  eager to arrive to the end of the road  because they know of the freedom that awaits them.  As soon as they hit that dirt they are off running and exploring every little one of nature’s details without hesitation.

                 We are so fortunate to live in an area with such breath taking surroundings. An area where we are able to give children the trust and freedom they deserve to learn and explore the world around them. Our morning adventure carried over into the afternoon when the children became engaged in activities from the materials they collected.
                  The children made art work, studied textures, shape, and colours, and even seemed to enjoy the new light table invitation we put out. We continued providing invitations all week with our natural materials, and are very excited to see what becomes of our next nature adventure!