The other day it was frigid fifteen degrees outside and we found ourselves cooped up with 15 wiggly, silly preschoolers. Luckily I had the perfect project for such a day. Armed with mortar, pestle and a large supply of lavender blossoms, the kids and I settled down for some serious grinding and pounding work. As we passed the mortar and pestle around our little circle, I encouraged the kiddos to smell the flowers while they pounded. Within minutes our circle became peaceful with everyone looking on and inhaling the beautifully calming fragrance of lavender. When we were done playing with the mortar and pestle we took our ground up flowers combined them with salt and lavender essential oil to create a fun art supply.Read More
Did you know that many of our sweet, warm culinary herbs come from trees? Herbs like cinnamon, cloves, allspice and star anise all come from trees. We are studying trees and herbs from trees at preschool this month so naturally we are playing around with these well-loved and well-known herbs.Read More
This time of year we are always busy preparing something for those loveliest of people... Mommies.
This May we are making foot soaks for pampering hard-working feet and to go with it? The cutest footprint butterflies!Read More
The magic of butterflies and caterpillars captivates children. A flitter of colorful wings...
A fuzzy, fat, stripey bug creep crawling up a branch...
Discovering nature's treasures like these instantly engage and enchant children (and me too!).
What better insect to choose for a close-up look at life cycles? Last week we studied plant life cycles at the school so the children were already familiar with the idea. I brought in an example butterfly life cycle that I had made with art scrapes from my stash: pompoms (perfect for caterpillar bodies), silk flowers and leaves (leaves to lay eggs on and flowers to pull apart and use for wings), pasta shells (cocoon) and multicolored popcorn (eggs).
As we sat in a circle, I shared the butterfly life cycle with the kids we talked about being scientists by looking at the world and observing what we see. We read The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle. As we read, we looked for parts of the butterfly life cycle. We found the egg, and the cocoon and the butterfly; the kids really got it and I was impressed!
Next the kids made their own butterfly life cycles.
I gave them each a leaf to glue down on a piece of paper and then encouraged them to lay "eggs" on their leaves.
On we went including parts of the cycle. I always love to present children with an idea and then let them take it from there and we had many creative life cycles when all was said and done!
Flowers fascinate me, they always have. I can remember spending many happy hours in my parent's garden fondly stroking tulips and talking with snap dragons, or rather making them talk to me. The colors and scents, how can something so amazing grow right out of the ground?
Plant Life Cycles
We are studying life cycles at preschool as part of out Earth Day curriculum for the month of April. We set up a plant life cycle on our science table. Into seed pots we planted marigold seeds and then set them up right next to a full-grown marigold plant, with the seeds next the plant. The goal is to give the kids a visual experience of a life cycle while we wait for our baby plants to sprout.
As part of this we read the book: Seed to Plant by Melvin and Gilda Berger. This is a great book with wonderful pictures seeds and plants at different phases of the life cycle. It really helped the kids to understand the process.
Plant Life Cycle Game
We also played the life cycle game. Each kid pretended to be a tiny seed planted in the ground (they get in a ball on the ground). While I pretended to water them as the sun came out and the kids began to grow into a plant (they stretch up towards the sky on their feet), and next the kids sprouted flowers (what color is your flower?) that made seeds. The seeds blew away in the wind (we waved our arms) and landed back on the earth (the kids end up back in a ball on the ground). They loved this game! It was a great visceral way to experience a plant life cycle.
My love of flowers prompted me to bring in a bunch of flowers and talk about where the seeds are made in a flower. I brought in tulips for us to explore together. After we reviewed our plant life cycle, I got ready to cut apart a tulip with the kids. At first they were sad about hurting the tulip. These are some sweet kids! But as I started pulling the petals back they became totally engaged in what they were seeing.
"Whoa! Ms. Angela, what is that?" All heads were bent peering closely as were investigated our tulip.
I pointed out the anthers on the flower and we talked about pollination. We felt the slightly gritty pollen dust on our fingers. I was fortunate to have a lovely book, The Dandelion Seed,with me with an illustration of a bee covered in pollen which gave the kids a good visual for pollen transfer via insects.
The Dandelion Seed by Joseph Patrick Anthony is simply beautiful. The story is profound and engaging while the illustrations are incredibly lovely. In fact I cry just about every time I read it!
Then I showed them the pistil, the part when the pollen lands and fertilizes the flower to make seeds. We cut into the pistil but weren't able to see much even with our magnifying glass.
I also brought in some lilies for the kids to explore. Each child got a lily anda coloring sheet showing the parts of a plant (click here for a link to this great coloring sheet). The kids pulled apart their flowers and glued them to their coloring sheet.
We had a great time being scientists and learning about the mystery of plants and flowers!
A Children's Solstice Celebration
We have a lush happy little patch of violets (Viola odorata) outside at the preschool. I noticed them last week quietly poking their deep purple heads through the soil and smiling with a delightful fragrance. I knew that we had to get outside and be with the violets. Violet are often one of the first flowers to grace us as the sun makes its way closer to us each spring and they are truly a treasure to behold. So what better way to celebrate this first day of spring than by smelling, harvesting and eating violets? Hence today we made our way to the violet patch.
I taught the kids a little song my teacher taught me, a song for the violets. A song to say we are here and we are friends. To say thank you to the violets for giving away to us. And we marched out to the patch singing and excited!
The kids did a wonderful job being careful with the plants and picking just the flowers.
As we all tried the flowers it was delightful to watch little faces light up with the amazing taste of violets.
The children loved them. We talked about how the violet's are good for us and they taste good too!
What a treat!
After gathering a good amount we took the violets inside, washed and dried them. We put them in a jar.
Then we covered them with agave. I usually make violet honey but the preschool is vegan so we are trying using agave this year. We will see how it goes! So far so good. I plan to keep the violets infusing in the agave for a good week or so. Then the agave and violets too will both go into a jars, one for each child to take home and enjoy!
We also read Mother Earth and Her Children by Sibylle Von Olfers. This is an amazingly beautiful book about the coming of spring. It is based off a gorgeous quilt made by Sieglinde Schoen-Smith. There is a little Violet child in the book and we had fun hunting for her and her violet plant. The kids were able to recognized the flower and the leaves in the book!
Roses symbolize love, friendship and beauty.
The amazing aroma of rose is certainly special and has been used by humanity through the ages. The scent opens the heart while uplifting the nervous system easing depression and grief. Valentine's Day offers the perfect chance to explore this amazing plant. We are having a rose party to celebrate at the preschool this year. To provide the children with a chance to really explore roses we are going to provide them with a variety of activities.
Tea made from organic rose petals is delightfully delicious and healthful. Roses benefit the respiratory and digestive systems enhancing their function, relieving inflammation and heat as well as helping to ease infections. Because of rose's uplifting action, the tea is calming and eases emotional irritability. I have found that most children love the taste of rose tea.
To make simply steep organic dried rose petals in just boiled water for 10 to 15 minutes using about a tablespoon per cup of water. Sometimes I add a tidge of agave syrup or honey to the tea.
For this activity I am planning to use this recipe from Mommy Nature and then I am going to tweak to fit our needs.
- 2 cups flour
- 2 tsp salt
- 2 1/2 cups cold water
- 2 cups hot water
Mix the flour and salt. Add cold water. Beat until smooth and gradually add hot water. Boil. Beat until smooth.
Then to make rose paint I will add crushed rose petals and a bit of beet powder to enhance the color.
This is easy! Just add rose petals, dried or fresh, to your favorite playdough recipe. You can further enhance the rose scent by using rose water or rose tea in place of the regular water when making your playdough. I also like to add glitter and beet powder to the playdough to make it sparkly red! Or you can add cocoa powder for coloring and make chocolate rose playdough, yum!!
Check out my playdough post for complete instructions!
Rose Sensory Table
I think it would be fun to set up a bin with fresh roses and leaves (no thorns please!) for the kids to feel and smell fresh roses. Silky soft and fragrant, um.... We will add some cups and things for sifting through the loveliness.
Stay posted for pictures, as I make these things for our party I will add pictures and of course, I will get some action shots from the big day!
Update on those pictures.... well, I forgot my camera and didn't get a single picture!! So bummed....