One of our stand out themes so far this summer happened just last week. We decided to incorporate architecture into the curriculum because Norfolk has so much to offer in this category! There are so many gorgeous buildings here in town, and what child doesn't like to build things?
We began the week with a visit from Norfolk architect Kate Johnson. We had an interesting age range that day and Kate rose to the occasion, providing information about her career and photographs of the houses she has built around town. One child recognized a house and was able to give a detailed description of how to get there! They sure do keep us smiling. Kate was so kind to bring house plans for the children to cut out, decorate and put together into a 3-D model.
On Wednesday, we embarked on a beautiful walk to the Norfolk Historical Society. Ann Havemeyer was our personal tour guide for the field trip and was amazing with the children! We could have stayed all day, there was so much to see. We learned about buildings in town and what they used to be and the kids particularly loved the fact that there was once roller skating where Infinity Hall is today. Their other favorites included a silent movie filmed at Tobey Pond, the general store, ringing the bell on the third floor and trekking into the basement to see the old jail! A great time was had by all! Here's a few pictures...
A Great Big Thank You to everyone here in town that supports & encourages us!
Throughout the week, we utilized our amazing Lego collection (generously donated by a neighbor) and sat down with the children to design our very own Lego City. Here's a glimpse of our city, entitled "NELC" (pronounced "Nell-see" according to the kids!)
We ended the week by incorporating a bit of enchantment into our architecture! The children went on a short nature walk and collected supplies to build their very own fairy house! Using all natural materials, we spent the afternoon building and decorating these magical little dwellings. We had a blast (and the kids did too)! If you haven't done this, we highly recommend you give it a whirl!
This past week, our theme was the Ocean! While Norfolk boasts many things, the one thing it cannot offer us (besides lunch delivery) is salt water, sand dunes and the many splendors that come with ocean life.
Fortunately for us, we were able to hit up the lawn & garden section of a local superstore and purchased a couple of bags of sand for $3.19 a piece! Here are some of the magical ways we incorporated sand into our curriculum during Ocean Week. It looked and felt like real beach sand and the kids loved making mini sand castles using applesauce containers, sifting through to find ocean creatures and so much more. Here's a peek at our week here at NELC Beach!
One of the best things we did with our trusty bag of sand, was test out this recipe for Sandy play dough. While we honestly weren't sure it would work out (a tad crumbly at first), once we added a bit more oil and water, it turned out to be the most amazing sensory activity!
Here's the Recipe:
4 cups of clean sand
3 cups of flour
1 cup of water
1/4 cup of oil
We have a plethora of empty baby food jars and decided that making those pretty sand creations using layers of colored sand would be a fun activity for the children this week. After scooping some clean sand into an empty shaky cheese container, we were able to drop some food coloring in and let the children shake it up until we received the desired shade. From there, they each chose their colors and scooped them into their jar!
And last but certainly not least...Our new hermit crab friends!
We knew we needed a fun surprise for the kids, since we had no big field trips planned to the ocean! We decided to bring the ocean to NELC. They were very excited to see not one but two pet hermit crabs whom, upon receiving many suggestions, were ultimately named Shelly and Pearl.
Some other fun activities included literacy activities, learning about ocean creatures, designing our own bathing suits and since it was the hottest week thus far, hanging out near the octopus sprinkler!
June has always been such an exciting time. It marks the end of the school year and of course, the opening of our town's favorite spot-Tobey Pond! However, so far this month's weather has been nothing short of dreary! Although the occasional sunshine has felt amazing, it has been such a tease. These days, the children have been coming to our little school equipped with sweatshirts and jackets instead of sunscreen and sandals!
Fortunately for us, we have found many ways to keep busy despite the rainy weather. Not many facilities can say they have a gym and boy are we thankful! We've been utilizing this space for indoor recess a lot in the past few weeks. Here, the kiddos have the opportunity to let off some steam by running around, using ride on toys, climbing on the slide, playing with kickballs & basketballs, hula hooping and jump roping too! Even our youngest friends have enjoyed using push toys and putting baby dolls in strollers for a little walk around the gym. As many of you know, our school age classroom is also located on one side of the space. This has been very exciting for the children to explore and it offers a refreshing array of toys that the preschoolers aren't exposed to on a regular basis.
The rain has also given us many opportunities to engage in art projects and sensory experiences. Here's a quick glimpse at some of the work we've done:
During Pond Week, the children took a walk around the property and collected small pebbles, sticks, ferns and other things they thought might be found in a pond environment. We added some small creatures and water and we had our own little pond! The children loved making beaver dams, stick rafts and feeling the sandy pebbles!
We do projects daily but we thought these turned out pretty cute. The turtles were made from old cd/cartridge type cases that were donated to us by a friend. The children glued tissue paper inside and added foam pieces for the body parts. They really enjoyed playing with them once the glue was dry and during the process, they liked the feeling of painting the glue onto the smooth plastic-an art and sensory craft all in one! This is the second project we've used these cases for...here's the first from Insect Week...Bug Week! No worries, we released our critters when we were done examining them :)
A Father's Day Card that worked well with Pond Week...And who doesn't love a cute footprint keepsake?
Finally, we've found it's good to always have a supply of sensory products on hand for rainy days or spur of the moment "add ons" to the curriculum. Our favorite? Shaving cream! The kids love practice writing their names in it, drawing funny faces and squiggles too. Plus it makes the classroom smell fabulous!
Well, it's been almost 3 weeks and we're still standing! Our enrollment is holding steady but of course, we're always excited to hear the phone ring!
Here's a glimpse at some of the things we've been working on with the kiddos. We must warn you, it's been really fun.
A fan favorite, our heavily "loved" Community Playthings (THE best in child care equipment might we add) and generously donated sand & water table has boasted many things in it's short time at NELC. During our first week in business, we filled the table with dry rice with all the amenities. Bowls, tea cups, spatulas, spoons, colanders & later in the week, even tossed in some animals & people for good measure. The children had a blast and quite frankly, so did we. There is something so incredibly soothing about rice. This was a fun way to introduce the table to the children and it literally had something for everyone.
During Week 2, we experimented with a few other mediums, the first being a no-bake play dough recipe dubbed "Soapy Dough" for obvious reasons! The children enjoyed helping us mix the ingredients and each chose a custom color for their own little blob. We were able to store the dough in airtight containers and use them later (still smelling pretty by the way). The one cautionary tale is to be ever-vigilant with the young'uns because as we all know, dough can be a tempting snack and this one had bathroom soap in it. All in all, this was a hit! Here's the recipe if you're looking for a rainy day activity-chances are you already have the ingredients handy, especially if you or someone you love bathes regularly :)
What You Need:
Later that week we turned to good old water for inspiration. One of our bargain basement deals was a large collection of plastic sea creatures, which we promptly mixed with seashells to create an underwater menagerie. Though we are not making Sea Life the focus of our curriculum until July or so, we were anxious to try out our new "stuff". And let's face it, who doesn't need a little faux sea horse in their life? The children loved this, something we definitely took note of. When all else fails (which it won't), beachy things shall prevail!
This week, our theme is "In the Garden" and "Old Faithful" (the Sensory Table's new name as of...well, now) was the perfect home for potting soil, shovels & seeds. So far we have planted Cherry & Beef Steak (yes, that's real) tomatoes, a sunflower and some gorgeous blooms to decorate the once barren land beneath our sign. The older kids weren't as jazzed about the planting as we had imagined but the younger children loved every second!
Finally, we capped off Week 3 with good old fashioned "Goop". Yep, cornstarch and water. So simple! You literally cannot step up to the plate and resist running your fingers through this mind-boggling phenomenon. Gets us every time.
We are learning about our students more and more each day and remain perplexed by the fact that on a beautiful day, the school age children still BEG to hang out in our gym. We've done a lot of dress up, dancing, water colors, marble painting, leisurely strolls down beautiful Laurel Way...you name it. We've re-discovered the joy that is early childhood education.
Our first few weeks have been a learning experience, and a good one at that. We find ourselves laughing non-stop and most of the time it's at ourselves as we delve back into our original roles in this field...teachers! While we remain administrators as well, it's been a unanimous decision that teaching is way more fun. Whether it's the little things like blowing bubbles, rocking a child to sleep or reading a book. Or, the more complicated ones such as giving "Pegasus rides" on the playground (true story) or being given "wind" in charades (by a 5 year old) we are having the time of our lives.
In a land far far away, two gals took a big gamble and left their long-term jobs in search of a new beginning. Norfolk Early Learning Center began as a brainstorm and quickly evolved to something more. Suddenly we found ourselves ripping up carpets & prying open paint cans. Our excitement grew as we made all sorts of lists, one of which we were very proud of ourselves for sticking to (we love you IKEA!) Six months later, we had yet to put down our paintbrushes and continued to work diligently as we waited rather impatiently for the arrival of our child care license. On April 26, 2013 we were official. In fact, we're willing to bet our neighbors on Laurel Way heard screaming and felt the ground shake as we quite literally jumped for joy. We hope that this blog will serve not only as a vessel for our experiences here at NELC but as a journal of sorts, documenting what we hope will be our "happily ever after".