Tuesday, May 3, 2016

HomePlay: Maker's Box

We just finished up our Earth Day week where we learned about recycling and taking care of our Earth.  We always end this week with a "clean" trash pickup!  We litter our playgrounds with "clean" trash like paper products and rinsed out bottles and cans, then let the children help clean up and recycle the trash.  They love this and get so bothered that someone came and messed up their playground. 

We try to teach the children about how to reduce, reuse, and recycle, and this HomePlay really embodies that spirit!  It's a Maker's Box that should encourage lots of imaginative play, along with strengthening problem-solving skills.

Maker's Box
You will need:
  • a box or container
  • scraps of paper, yarn, ribbon, whatever you can find!
  • toilet paper and paper towel rolls
  • plastic cups and plates
  • cereal or food boxes
  • masking tape
  • scissors
  • gluestick
You can use whatever you have around the house, but the above are just ideas.  You just want to add in items that provide visual and textural interest and would be good to create with!  Provide the masking tape (which is easier to tear off), safety scissors, and a gluestick.  You can also add in markers or crayons for decorating.  Keep everything together in a box and let your child use the materials to create and build whatever they choose!  Playing in this way encourages creativity, problem-solving, and higher thinking.  Enjoy the process of making!

Friday, August 7, 2015

Summer Fun!

We have been so busy this summer playing and learning and vacationing, and now we're finally slowing down to a much more normal pace as we get back to "school" and routines, looking forward to fall!  What a nice time to do a recap of our summer fun!  We enjoyed themes such as dinosaurs, Book Week, America, water and beach weeks, exercise, and a How Does It Work? theme that is all about science.

Book Week was a new theme for us this year, and it was a huge success!  We read a lot, did activities that went along with great kid's books like Chicka Chicka Boom Boom and Brown Bear, Brown Bear, and had a book giveaway!  Thanks so much to the parents who brought in books their children didn't use anymore which let us have a massive book swap.

Dressing up like book characters was lots of fun!

Every child got to choose four books to take home!

Water Week was awesome too!  We served these really cute banana dolphins jumping out of blueberry water for snack, which the kids loved.  And oh so healthy too! 

Everyone enjoyed a water day, but here's pictures of the one-year-olds splashing around.


The four-year-olds did an experiment seeing which objects would sink and float.  They graphed the results.

Then they tie-dyed t-shirts.  Great job, guys!

A little baking soda and vinegar play is always in order!  Here, the kids enjoyed a fine motor activity, dropping vinegar on baking soda to make little volcanoes!

The three-year-olds made cork boats, then watched them float in bowls.  

 At the end of the week, a beautiful watercolor mural enlivened the brick wall on our playground, courtesy of the kids and teachers!

Only a few weeks of summer remain, but here's a few fun ways to spend quality time with your kids while the weather is still warm...

  • Draw with markers on construction paper, then spray lightly with water to watch the colors fade and bleed, creating a cool watercolor picture.
  • Make a suncatcher by layering tissue paper between two pieces of clear contact paper.  Cut it into a shape and add wiggly eyes (if appropriate).  Hang in the window.
  • Enjoy the pool a little longer by throwing ping pong balls in the shallow end of the pool and let your child float around collecting the "seashells" in a bucket. You could do this in a kid's small plastic or inflatable pool too, a lot like the Pick Up Ducks fair game.
  • Make time to get another visit in to a local park or splash pad.  Have a bathing suit fashion show!
  • Build with sponges!  It's a great sensory activity and takes some practice steadying them.  Play outside and get the sponges wet, then see how well you can build with them!  You can also cut sponges into "Jenga"-type pieces and build a Jenga tower with them.
  • Help younger children separate Rainbow Goldfish into colors, then have a snack!  Color sorting is a great math skill to develop.
  • Fill a container with water and let your child help drop a few drops of food coloring into the water.  Provide spoons, measuring cups, sand toys, sifters, containers...whatever! to encourage measuring, pouring, and PLAY!
Leave a comment and let us know how you're having fun as the summer ends!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Happy Anniversary to Us! 15 Years!

Sunlight pours through Kool-Aid painted hearts in the Pre-K room!

Valentine's Day is a special day around here...not just because we love showing our Patchers how much we love them, but also because it's the day we opened, 15 years ago!!  We are so excited to celebrate our fifteenth anniversary this year, so be looking for a few treats tomorrow when you pick up your children!  We want to thank our wonderful staff who show up to teach and love our Patchers every day, and, of course, our Patch parents who trust us with their most precious possessions.  We wouldn't be here without you!

Valentine boxes stand ready to be filled with sweet notes in the 3's!

We've had lots of fun this Valentine's week, learning all about hearts, the colors red and pink, and making lots of LOVEly art projects.  See some pictures below!

The Pre-K class had lots of fun with hearts, hearts, and more hearts!  Their projects included honing fine motor skills by cutting out hearts and creating pieces of art with both the positive and negative spaces that were made.  Their decorated bags hang on their bulletin board to collect all their Heart Day goodies!

The four-year-olds created paper plate Valentine holders for their treats.  They made Valentine's slime and enjoyed feeling it and playing with it!  They also created an "Acts of Kindness" board, and anytime one of the children was caught doing something good, they got their names on the board.  So cute!

The three-year-olds have had fun decorating their Christmas tree for all the seasons.  Here, beautiful colored hearts serve as the decorations!

The two-year-olds made special gifts for mom and dad, and also did these pretty tissue paper hearts to decorate their door.

The one-year-olds colored hearts for their Valentine boxes and made Valentine handprints for gifts.

This is the Valentine's sensory boxes that the children got to play in this week.  The older kids had rice in the bottom, but the younger kids had red and pink pompoms in the bottom.  Felt beanbag hearts, foam hearts, Valentine's ribbon and pipe cleaner hearts were in the tub to play with.  Our children love these boxes, and they get a new one each week to go along with our theme.

Our Patchers also love the sand and water tables, which we fill with theme-related items.  Lots of scooping, pouring, measuring, and sorting happen here, which are early math and science skills.  This one, from the Pre-K class was a heart-finding table.  The kids had to scoop around and see how many hearts they could find.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Play Activities for Toddlers

Cleaning off my desk the other day, I found a paper titled, "Play Activities for Toddlers".  I have no idea where it came from or who to give credit to, but it's a great list for those, "What can we do now?" moments.  What better time to share these ideas than here at the New Year when many of us may feel like we should make it more of a priority to spend quality time with our children.  Figuring out good ways to play with toddlers isn't as easy as with a talkative preschooler, so here's the list with age-appropriate interests and play ideas for toddlers.  Leave a comment and tell us how your baby likes to play!

At This Age:                                                 Toddlers Like to:

12-15 months                                              crumple and toss paper
                                                                      fill containers and dump the contents
                                                                      roll objects down hills and inclines
                                                                      turn light switches on and off
                                                                      play with flashlights
                                                                      poke objects into play dough
                                                                      play and sing action songs and rhymes

12-18 months                                              paint with edible finger paints
                                                                              (i.e. pudding, Cool Whip)
                                                                      play in sand and water
                                                                      push and pull toys (such as trains and cars)
                                                                      scribble with crayons
                                                                      look at and talk about books,
                                                                               family photos, catalogs
                                                                      put objects into holes
                                                                      roll a ball
                                                                      nest objects (stack them one inside the other)
                                                                      put large hand-held objects (like blocks) into holes

15-18 months                                              play hide-and-seek
                                                                      play with finger puppets
                                                                      find and identify source of sounds
                                                                            (like an alarm clock)
                                                                      match plastic bottles and lids
                                                                      play musical instruments
                                                                      blow bubbles, candles, feathers, paper, harmonica

18-20 months                                              play with a toy hammer
                                                                      stack objects on a spindle
                                                                      stack large blocks or boxes
                                                                      put small objects (such as pegs) into holes

18-24 months                                              put together three to six piece puzzles
                                                                      play on riding toys and rocking horses
                                                                      play with small wooden blocks
                                                                      throw and kick a ball
                                                                      participate in kitchen by peeling eggs,
                                                                            mashing potatoes, smelling spices,
                                                                            and adding premeasured ingredients
                                                                      turn pages of a book
                                                                      hold pictures right-side up
                                                                      match pictures to real objects
                                                                      want to do things for themselves
                                                                      kick a ball
                                                                      unwrap an object

22 months                                                   come when called
                                                                      put things away
                                                                      screw and unscrew lids
                                                                      show an interest in insects
                                                                      match animals and sounds
                                                                      model adult behavior

23 months                                                   use three-word sentences
                                                                      talk to themselves
                                                                      enjoy rhymes
                                                                      sing easy repetitive songs
                                                                      brush their teeth with help (mostly imitation)
                                                                      say "please" and "thank you"
                                                                      wash and dry their hands
                                                                      remove and put on clothes
                                                                      help with household chores
                                                                      recognized places and landmarks
                                                                      show imagination
                                                                      throw a ball
                                                                      enjoy working with their fingers

24 months                                                   show an interest in smells
                                                                      enjoy carrying satchels (such as a purse)
                                                                      walk up stairs without help
                                                                      turn a door knob
                                                                      stack 6 or more blocks
                                                                      jump down from a low object
                                                                      jump in place
                                                                      listen to short stories
                                                                      open and close zippers
                                                                      follow simple directions
                                                                               (Get the ball. Touch your nose.)
                                                                      Ask questions that require one-word answers     
                                                                               (Who's that?)

As always, you can ask your child's teachers or in the office for creative play and learning ideas.  We're here to help you and your child however we can!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

It's Fall Festival Time!

Our 2nd Annual Fall Festival and Open House is this Saturday, November 1st from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm.  Please don't let the cool weather keep you away!  We'll be here with carnival games, a bouncy house, bake sale, prizes, and food.  We will sell wrist bands for $10 this year which will give unlimited access to games and the bouncy house.  There will be a professional balloon artist and face painter here as well!  And don't forget about our TOTALLY AWESOME silent auction items and baskets!  We're really excited about them this year and wanted to share what we have with you.  If you'd like to bid, you can call us (704-462-2435) or come by and place your bid.

Tar Heel Basket: This basket will include UNC cups, ink pen, and can holder and will feature a light blue Nike football signed by football head coach Larry Fedora of the University of North Carolina!! 

There will also be a UNC schedule poster signed by Larry Fedora in a poster frame for auction.
*The Carolina items will be available for pickup the week after the Fall Festival.

TLC Basket: filled with a first aid kit, baby lotion and shampoo, Band-Aids, Vaseline, an ice pack, a teether, a teddy bear, and other medical accessories every parent should have.

Girl's Craft Basket: includes a textured painting kit, bottle cap jewelry kit, crayons, coloring books, stencils, modeling beads, Disney Princess sparkle poster, 3-D puzzle, and dry-erase board.

Boy's Toys Basket: How to Draw books, Transformers building kit, 3 other building sets, Hot Wheels, a yo-yo, dry-erase board, and Chuck E Cheese tokens.

Cleaning Basket: lots of cleaning supplies including Lysol All-Purpose Cleaner, Clorox Bleach, hand sanitizer, antibacterial hand soap from Bath and Body Works, sponges, paper towels, Lysol Wipes, bucket, Kleenex, etc.

Italian Basket: full of pasta, sauces, olive oil, Parmesan cheese, Italian seasoning, and pasta strainers and server.

Hair Care Basket: hair products from Karen's Hair Styling, a hairdryer, hand towels, a curling iron, hair spray, and lots of hair bows, clips, and ponytail holders.

Popcorn Bucket: There are three of these baskets that include popcorn, a large popcorn bucket, 2 small popcorn servers, and 4 movie tickets good at Carmike Cinema.

Tupperware: There are two Tupperware baskets.  One is the set of five nesting rectangle containers (pictured above), and the other is a three bowl nesting set.

Burlap Prints: We have three framed burlap prints for auction.  They read: "Family", "There's No Place Like Home" and "What I Love Most About My Home Is Who I Share It With".  These are handmade by our Pre-K teacher, Ms. Kelly.  Check out her Etsy shop, Maple Tree Productions.

Wreaths: We have 2 burlap wreaths made by our Pre-K teacher, Ms. Brittany, and a Christmas wreath made by one of our parents.  There are beautiful!

Christmas Basket: This basket includes a Christmas wreath, Kleenex box cover, colander, four snowman mugs, snowman puzzle, peppermint candle, and Christmas blanket.

Stanley Products: There are two baskets of Stanley products.  One (shown above) is cleaning products including Degreaser, Aqua Clean, Disposal Cleaner, Bayberry Air Freshener, Insect Killer, and Copper and Brass Polish.  The other is a Kitchen Basket with a silicone loaf pan and muffin pan, kitchen cleaners, kitchen scale, vegetable brush, and hand cream.

Fire Pit Fun!: What an awesome basket!  This includes A FIRE PIT!!  Also s'mores stuff (graham crackers, marshmallows, chocolate bars), marshmallow/hotdog roasters, fire starters, lighter, flashlights, popcorn, and popcorn bucket.

Gymnastics Basket: includes a gym bag, water bottle, Goldfish crackers, bottles of water, and a $25 gift certificate for Foothills Gymnastics in Hickory.

 Chilly Fun Basket: includes a Free Family Night from Orange Leaf Frozen Yogurt (4 free frozen yogurts and 4 free games of mini golf), ice cream scoop, rainbow sprinkles, chocolate sprinkles, and Hershey's chocolate syrup.

Family Game Night Basket: includes 100 piece puzzle, Connect 4 board game, UNO card game, and 4 free games of bowling at Pin Station in Newton.

Amusement Parks:  We have tickets for auction to DOLLYWOOD, TWEETSIE RAILROAD, AND SANTA'S LAND!!!

Chuck E Cheese: There are four passes for Chuck E Cheese.  Each pass is for one large pizza, four drinks, and 45 tokens!

BI-LO Gift Certificate: in the amount of $25

Bing's Jolly Jumpers Gift Certificate: gift certificate worth $25 towards the rental of an inflatable

Local Pottery: Face Jug made by local potter Olivia Mourglea

There are still some baskets and items coming in, so be sure to come see us on Saturday!  Come and play with us and see our GREAT center!