Thursday, October 16, 2014

Our Classroom Chores

I will work with joy, my task is now begun
I will work with joy, until my task is done
Persistence and pride, purpose unfolds
As I work hard to reach my goals
I will work with joy, my task is now begun
I will work with joy, until my task is done.
- Shea Darian

Classroom chores are an important part of our day at Seedlings.  We work together to care for our shared space so we can take pride in our school.  The most important aspect of our chores is that we work with joy - while also singing the song above.  Do you grumble about your housework? You are likely passing that distaste for chores along to your child without intending to do so.  Seedlings students LOVE chores, so much so that they argue on a daily basis about who gets to do what.  Here is a look at a few of our daily tasks.


I doubt many people use a wash board these days, but it is a wonderful tool for children.  There is a very specific sequence to follow when doing our laundry, which is a memory-building exercise that involves concentration and patience.  Each place mat is rinsed, scrubbed, rinsed again, wrung out and hung to dry on our child-sized drying rack.  All that squeezing and scrubbing is excellent for finger strengthening and fine motor skills needed for writing.


Yes, we could just put our snack dishes in the dishwasher and call it a day, but why do that when we can take an opportunity to play in a tub full of soapy water?!  In case I haven't mentioned it previously, we use real glass bowls, plates and jelly jars as glasses for snack and the children very carefully wash those dishes after snack time.  Of course, the point here is not to get the dishes clean and they are rewashed after class.  Washing dishes is another concentration exercise and serves as a reminder that we have made a mess that requires cleaning up in order to move on with the rest of our day....and, again, tub full of soapy water....enough said.


We do a variety of dusting and sweeping activities throughout our week.  We have a wool duster (pictured above), two child-sized dustpan and brush sets and a few child-sized Norwex cloths for when the classroom needs a good wipe with a wet cloth.  I can honestly say that dusting is my least favorite chore, but the children love it, especially when I break out the wet cloths!


I have a bit of a Norwex obsession.  I love that I can clean my home and school without the use of chemicals and that I can allow my students to clean without compromising their health.  The kiddos especially love my mop, which has a convenient telescopic handle that brings the mop down to a very small size that most of the children can handle with ease.  Mopping gets all of the large muscle groups moving and working together and is excellent for balance and overall coordination....and my floor is always clean!


Yes, that is a real vacuum...with the telescopic handle down, it's a nice child-sized tool.  My only complaints about it are that it is quite loud and a bit heavy for the younger children.  We aren't able to vacuum as much as I'd like because someone is always sleeping in my house and again, it is quite loud, but we do get to bring it out on occasion and I just make sure I leave enough time for every child to have a turn!

In addition to our formal 'chore time', the children are also responsible for cleaning up their work when they have finished, clearing their dishes after snack, cleaning up their own spills, pouring water at snack time, pushing chairs in, and straightening up as needed.  My goal is always to help my students become confident, self-sufficient little people and giving them responsibilities only moves us closer to that goal!

Friday, October 3, 2014

Healthy (ish) Edible Play Dough

As part of our 5 Senses theme, we worked quite a bit with play dough.  We got a surprise for our eyes with our Color Surprise Play Dough; we had fun with touch with our Silly Textures Play Dough; we used our noses for our Aromatherapy Play Dough with Essential Oils and we finished out the month with edible play dough - every child's favorite!!!

In preparation for the week, I researched tons of edible play dough recipes, but most were full of sugar in a variety of forms.  My little Bear is a child who doesn't really understand the meaning of 'just a small taste' and I knew I didn't want him eating a giant glob of sugar as the first activity of our day, so I thought about other recipes I could use to make a somewhat healthier version of a classroom favorite.

Before I share my recipes, I would like to advise AGAINST eating an entire ball of play dough.  What I told my students was, "Tiny tastes are ok, but the play dough is still for playing."  Of course, as predicted, Bear ate his ball of play dough about three minutes after I gave it to him, but I didn't feel too terrible about it since it wasn't made entirely of horrible ingredients. :)

We started with a recipe I've been using for years, Peanut Butter Play Dough.
1/3 c. Honey
1/2 c. Dry Milk Powder
1/2 c. Peanut Butter
This recipe makes enough for three children.  I divided it and placed it in plastic baggies in the fridge overnight.

Next up, I tried my hand at a Strawberry Coconut Play Dough.
 I'm pretty sure I just lucked out on this one since I was making it up as I went along.
1 pkg. Strawberry Jello Mix
(next time I'd only use 1/2 the pkg or less)
1/2 c. Honey
2 c. Coconut
(I used dried coconut chunks that I pulverized in my Vitamix, but if you try this one, you might want to just try coconut flour or some other form of coconut - flakes, shredded, etc - which may also result in a different texture)
1/4-1/2 c. All Purpose Flour
(to help with stickiness)

This one made enough for 5 kiddos.

Finally, I made Peppermint Play Dough
1 c. Dry Milk Powder
1/2 c. Honey
1 c. All Purpose Flour
1/2 c. Coconut Oil, melted
A few drops of Peppermint Extract
Peppermint Candy Pieces

This recipes made enough for 6 children.

And on our final day of edible play dough, I finally managed to get a picture BEFORE Bear ate all of it!

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