Monday, March 16, 2020

Free educational resources, virtual field trips and daily livestreamed storytime, etc. for all ages

As an in-home child care provider, I am always looking for educational resources that I can use to supplement the things I do with the children. My daughter homeschools her six children, and the children have told me about the documentaries they have watched at home. With so many people trying to figure out what their children are going to do while they are not in school, I have seen many people sharing awesome resources to help out. My favorite so far is this list of virtual field trips, it says Mrs. Fahrney at the bottom, though I do not know her, or have a link to give her the credit.
                                                     Over 30 Virtual field trips with links

Then this schedule of free homeschooling and educational resources by grade level could be very helpful:                     
                                          Free homeschooling and educational resources by grade level

Here is a list of over 60 free online learning resources for teaching virtually:

                                   60 plus free online learning resources for teaching virtually

And this huge list of resources includes  a wide range of topics and levels of classes/courses with options including videos, tutorials, lectures and more: Scroll down to get to the actual resource links

                                                           Free Educational Resources

The Atlanta Center for Puppetry is closed so they will be live streaming curriculum-based workshops and Digital Learning interactive puppet shows. The schedule is here: Schedule of puppetry workshops Livestream

Mo Willems will host daily Livestream doodle for kids home from school daily at 1:00. Check it out here: Mo Williams lunch doodle

Virtual storytime on Instagram with Pete the Cat author James Dean! Check it out here: Virtual storytime with Pete the Cat author James Dean

                                        Free Online: Mindfulness Class for Kids k thru 5th

Even ABC Mouse is offering its website access for free! 

Here is an entire list of all of the educational companies offering free subscriptions due to school closings:

This one is going to be one of my favorites!   33 National park tours you can take virtually!

Some areas are even being offered free internet. Call Comcast or Spectrum. 

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Setting up Winter themed activities, invitations, provocations

When I am changing out the theme for my home child care, I generally start with a new sensory bin. Then I spend some time going through my Pinterest boards to get ideas from all of the amazing bloggers and teachers that are of the same mindset as me. I have a lot of things sorted into storage containers and bags in my basement from previous years for different themes and seasons, but I always end up visiting some of the local Dollar Tree stores and ordering from Amazon and Oriental Trading Company to pick up some new manipulatives.  One thing I always have a good selection of is baskets, trays, and containers. It is an obsession of mine.

This is the first time I have used battery operated tea light candles in a sensory bin, and that idea came directly from the blog, Teaching 2 and 3-year-olds. It made a huge impact on the children. 

After deciding on the skills I wanted to work on with the children, I was able to pick the ideas I wanted to replicate on my shelves from Living Montessori Now which is one of my favorite resources, then another in-home child care provider from one of the many Facebook groups I am in had posted a build a snowman activity that I wanted to copy,  as well as some ideas that I came up with myself. I did end up placing a couple orders for new manipulatives, but that is mostly for my own pleasure because I could have made do with what I had.

Since the children enjoy sensory bins so much, and I saw a lot of bloggers using ice or snow in their bins but knew that I did not want to do that, I chose to purchase some pretend snow mix like I had gotten last year for my daughter's children and they enjoyed it so much. Then I saw a set of penguins that I just had to have on Amazon, and knew they would withstand the fake snow mixture and the children would love them.

Wednesday, January 08, 2020

Sensory bins

No matter the age of the child, they all engage with sensory bins. I love setting them up whether they are based on a theme we are doing at the time or focused on fine motor skills the children need to develop. I try to include a good variety of textures and colors and different types of manipulatives for interacting with the items in the bins. I have purchased over some time different types of tongs, tweezers, scoops, etc. from Dollar Tree and Amazon.  When I have had much younger children mixed with my normal toddler/preschool-aged children, I have set up a version with larger items so that it was safer. Because I choose to keep my in-home child care group small, I can monitor the children closely while they are participating with the sensory bins. These rocks, glass gems, scoops, and bowls were all purchased from Dollar Tree and the storage bins from Lowes.

Being that it is Wintertime, our newest sensory bin is all about snowflakes. The first step is to decide on the type of filler base that you want to use, and I chose rice. I put half of the rice into a gallon size baggy and added a few drops of blue food coloring and a drizzle of white vinegar, then shook the bag up until the color was distributed evenly. Then I poured the rice out onto paper towels to allow to dry, as well as get rid of the strong vinegar odor. I didn't have any liquid food coloring on hand, so I had to use my dyes that are made from vegetable colorants, so the results were not as vibrant as they normally are when I do this. Pictured is the beginnings of our St. Patrick's Day/Rainbow themed sensory bin which shows how vibrant you can get the filler to be using liquid food coloring and white vinegar. I purchased the gold coins and plastic shamrocks at Dollar Tree and the black plastic pots and glittery bouncy balls from Oriental Trading Company.

One thing I have learned through the years is to look at things and ask myself, "could this be used with the children?" because storing things just in case has always ended up surprising me with how either I was able to use them, or my daughter was with her children. Take, for example, a box of styrofoam peanuts that I received from something fragile that I ordered a few years ago. I kept them for over a year before it hit me that they could look like snow to the children and that the texture would be stimulating for them. So I used them to set up a Christmas sensory bin. I pulled out ribbons and a felt tree from our craft closet, I had metal boxes and a few jingle bells in the Christmas tote, I picked up plastic Christmas cookie cutters, glittery foam gingerbread men, trees and snowflake ornaments after Christmas one year from Dollar General at clearance prices, and last year got a great deal on wooden sled ornaments on Amazon.

Now back to our snowflake sensory bin I had a set of small felt snowflakes from Amazon as well as an embroidered type from Oriental Trading Company that I had purchased in the past in our Winter themed storage container, some clear glass gems I had picked up from the Dollar Tree, and some reusable ice cubes from Family Dollar, but I really wanted more of an impact and another texture to entice the children's senses, so I ordered a mixed size of plastic snowflakes from Amazon. During my research for Winter themed activities, I saw on Teaching 2 and 3-year-olds that she had added battery operated flickering tea light candles to her Winter sensory bin, and I just happened to have a box of them left from my daughter and son in laws vow renewal ceremony!

I think it turned out great, and the children have been spending lots of time interacting with it all. I added plastic bowls, scoops and shot cups for now, and plan on changing those out for plastic bottles and funnels next. 

Tuesday, January 07, 2020

Cindi's World Home Child Care

I have spent the biggest part of my life caring for children. At almost four years old, I became a big sister to my baby brother and my parents said I made it very clear to everyone, he was our baby. I took it upon myself to always watch out for him, even at a very young age, I had a lot of responsibility for his care, even when we were being watched by babysitters, I monitored them, and was sure that he was okay. (He would totally kill me if he knew I posted that picture of us!) When I started 6th grade, our mom opened her own in-home child care. I helped her whenever I could, and once I was old enough, the parents would hire me to watch their children in the evenings and weekends.

I babysat children off and on until I became a mother at the age of 25, then again at 26. I did watch children here and there while my children were young, and was even a helper to my best friend in her in-home child care business for a while, but I did not start my own business until 17 years ago.  I decided to open my own in-home child care so that I could still be available for my then Jr. High school children, as well as doing what I have always known, take care of children.

 My child care has changed and evolved a lot over the years, as I have learned, grown and studied more about the different learning genres and ways to work with children. I implement Montessori inspired invitations/provocations to play, open-ended resources, a lot of hands-on learning opportunities, as well as themes, process art, music, dance/exercise/yoga and plenty of fun.

Meals and snacks are mostly healthy options. Sometimes I will do fun with food where I will use cookie cutters, and other unique ideas to provide the children special meals, etc. geared toward the season, special day or theme at the time.

I spend a lot of time researching and planning, shopping and setting up to provide the children with the most fun, while also making sure we are working towards the learning goals we need to achieve, to have them ready for the next level of their growth.

I plan on sharing more of this part of my life here, because I know I get so many ideas from other child care providers who post on social media, bloggers, etc.