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!