Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Summer Daycare Review

To say the summer was busy is an understatement! Luckily, my job was made pretty *easy* with some great kiddos all summer long. A new type of play entered daycare and that took a lot of pressure off me (for the most part). Basically, the kids created their own fun all day, every day. I, of course, would set things out for the day/week and the big kids would unwittingly steer the direction of play, while the littles would follow right along. Theme days were few and far between, there was hardly any interest in my arts and crafts, and the backyard was the place to be.

Here's a few highlights from our sunny days together:

The sandbox provided fun for about half of the summer (before it was left open during an afternoon rain and the sand was ruined). The kids did a pretty good job of keeping the sand in the turtle and not all over the yard.

There was no shortage of helping hands over the summer. Whether it was helping a friend put on shoes, clean and pick up toys, clearing the tables after meals, and wiping the tables down.

I was never short on entertainment. The big kids did an amazing job of coming up with activities to enjoy.

The kids were sooooo excited that the new Beauty and the Beast movie came out and begged to get the movie. They watched 20 minutes of it before they were back playing in the yard.

The big kids designed (and made) an indoor fairy garden that could be played with! Read the details here.

The big kids made up plenty of games throughout the summer and the littles followed right along.

Creating "a flamingo habitat" took the better part of a day. This was only prompted by seeing the plastic flamingos we bought for the corner of the yard. The kids took them out, moved them, and made them a home. It should be of no surprise that the flamingos didn't last much past this day.

My three minis (and a few of the other kiddos) are lucky enough to have their birthday's during the summer. It was like one giant birthday party in the month of June!

At some point, all toys were brought outdoors: dolls (and accessories), tools, stuffed animals, dress up clothes, etc. 

Playing Coffee Shop in the backyard.....we're still finding coffee beans sporadically around the yard.

Water balloons!!! And a crying kid because "someone threw one harder than I can!" Yep, that meltdown required tears and screams.

Water balloons followed by playing in the kiddie pool. I would have thought that the kiddie pools would have lost their charm at this stage in the game, but apparently they are still very much loved.

We did a half hour of reading each day. The big kids read on their own and they took turns reading to the littles. While the big kids read on their own, the littles looked at books. It was perfect for getting lunch ready and some down time right after lunches.

Camping Day is still a hit!

Alexa is well loved. They discovered Alexa can sing them songs (such as Happy Birthday), tell them the song, and play them pretty much any song they wish (thanks to Amazon Music Unlimited). Alexa was so loved that we got one for multiple rooms throughout the house.....thankfully, they haven't figured out the drop-in feature!

The blow up pool lasted all summer! The kid's favorite thing to do was fill the pool up completely, form a line, and take turns running and jumping into the pool. One afternoon, a few of the big boys were pulling each other around the pool. They were all having fun and no littles were around to be injured (or influenced) by their rough housing, so I let it be. When they came indoors nearly two hours later, I discovered what looked like rug burns all across their bellies....apparently they were dragging each other on the bottom of the pool, leaving their stomachs bright red. Oops!

In a similar incident later in the summer, the kids decided to stand at the edge of the pool and flop themselves over, sliding into the water from the sides of the pool. Again, all of the kids were having fun so I didn't think anything of it...until they all came in with red tummies and starch marks from the seams of the pool. The things you don't think of as a daycare provider!

The one thing that I'm constantly amazed by is the kid's ability to pick up right where they left off. For quite a few of the big kids, they don't see each other all school year, yet the minute they're back together during the summer, nothing has changed (except for the fact that they're older). It's an amazing type of friendship to witness.

The days are not all rainbows and unicorns. Read my thoughts on that here.

Circus Day 2017 featured the kids as the circus acts!

Okay, so they may have played in the sandbox a bit after the rain too (until it got too gross).

Simple and kind gestures all day every day. No wonder I have such a difficult time going from kids to adults.

After our visit to the Art Institute of Chicago in May, the minis wanted to try out pointillism. I wasn't too sure how it'd go, but I was surprised how quickly even the youngest kids grasped the concept.

There was A LOT of Lego building and playing dress up.

We had our annual 4th of July celebration and Body Painting the day following the 4th. Body Painting is going on our every summer list!

After our trip to Yellowstone in June, I greatly reduced the amount of meat I eat. I bought these zoodles to eat for lunch one day.....and wound up sharing them with all of the kids. I was told they are really good.

Our Bones and Body Day was a hit!

I made sugar cookie play dough for the first time and it was an instant, all day hit!

Setting up a feast (or something like that). Again, the kids made my job amazingly easy over the summer!

A sweet daycare girl brought me these flowers one morning. It brightened my entire week!

I know I go on and on about their love for each other, but it's amazing to sit back and see. Read the story behind this picture here.

My daughter drew her friend a picture. It's at moments like this, when she asked me how her picture looked, that I realized I might be as immature as the kids. I had to excuse myself so they wouldn't see me laughing.

We had a frog for a whole week!!! Froggy went down the big slide, got pushed on the tire swing, and jumped through the yard.

90 degree days required Fudgesicles and watermelon pops because these kids didn't stop playing!

They had an entire thing worked out with the puppets. It stopped as soon as they saw me taking pictures of them.

We did plenty of science kits including this Magnet Science, a volcano kit, make your own candy, and a few others.

We introduced the kids to musicals. Meet Me In St. Louis, Oklahoma, The Music Man, Grease, and others were listened to and watched (Meet Me In St. Louis was a favorite). This also prompted them to listen to older music, such as Doris Day and Mitch Miller. I'm thinking about getting a record player for next summer and introducing them to some records my grandma listened to with me when I was young. They also requested to learn to swing dance!

Plus Plus, that's the name of the toy. Go buy them now. The older kids LOVED these things! So much so that I had to send my sister on an emergency run for more when we were stuck indoors on the hottest days of summer.

Breakfast for lunch was requested (and granted) on more than one occasion. During this meal, we had egg muffins, strawberries, yogurt, and hashbrowns. Everyone ate really well on breakfast for lunch days!

Our indoor farmers market and a fruit guessing game. We also did fruit and vegetable painting to go along with the farmers market theme. I love that even the 9 year olds are still (more than) game for this stuff!

We started a week with hot air balloons going over our house!

For the first time in three years hula hoops were allowed back at daycare! They had to be banned (for longer than expected) due to misuse and injuries. Whoever would have thought that hula hoops could be weapons??? Turns out they can be vicious weapons. Especially when kids attempt to "catch" each other with the hoops, by grabbing them with the hoops as they run by (fyi-it somehow always winds up around someone's neck). We only had one incident of them attempting to "dog walk" each other with the hoops and they listened well when I told them to stop. The things you never think of!

Another water balloon fight. This time I filled the pool with water, put the water balloons in the water, and made the kids jump in and grab the balloons! This was way more fun than your standard water balloon fight! The littles did not participate in this one, but did enthusiastically watch their big friends.

I made goop one day. The kids made "pies" and took turns playing with it throughout the day.

Board games were big the last few weeks of summer. Some of their favorites were Guess Who, Hot Potato, Wobbly Worm, Jenga, Operation, and matching games. Littles teamed up with the bigs and learned how to play quite a few of the games.

I bought new markers. The kids spent the entire day coloring pictures.

There were some Evel Knievel moves in the backyard that had to be put to a stop (and then laughed about when they couldn't see me).

Homemade slime in the backyard. I was pleasantly surprised that they actually listened when I said to keep it on the table. I expected it to be filled with grass and all over the playset within minutes.

Homemade raspberry applesauce. Not many of the kids liked this because they preferred store bought applesauce, but everyone loved "helping" me make it.

My meatless lunch that everyone had to have a bite of!

We got two new sets of waffle blocks (a castle and a barn). No one built a castle or a barn with them, but instead got creative and built "casts" for their arms and legs (and continued to play hospital).

I was summoned to the playset to help a little down the ladder. I set up base there for most of the morning.

We busted out the Barbie's and the doll house. I was thrilled (and entertained) to see ALL of the boys at daycare jump right into the Barbie's. It's a tad different (most of the Barbie's became ninjas or secret cops), but I so love that they happily played with them!

More games.

Our daycare squirt gun painting turned out better than I could have ever imagined! Read how we made it here.


The baby opossum that caused quite the ruckus one morning. Never again to I want to hear the words "Ash, there's something in the backyard........and it's still breathing!"

The tree got cut down the same day as the baby opossum fiasco, which prompted this text message to parents. I can only imagine what parents think when they get disclaimer texts like these!

The waffle sandwiches were a hit!

Reading stories. These kids love books, but they love them even more when a big kid reads to them.

The kids created "duplo roller skates." That activity had to come to an immediate halt. 

Some of the favorite foods this summer included: Go-Gurt, Goldfish crackers, cinnamon roll oatmeal, applesauce, blueberries, snap peas, and broccoli and cauliflower.

The art wall. I'm so going to miss their endless creative pictures!

It only took 6 months, but I finally got a sign for the daycare door!

A muffin tea party

The kids ASKED to clean the toys outside. They spent an entire morning washing all of the outdoor toys!

I found some goodies at Target one day that I couldn't pass up. The kids painting this wooden decoration (they chose the colors and took turned painting it). 

They made bracelets using beads and pipe cleaners.

Play Doh never gets old! Of course, I'm still picking it out of the daycare carpeting....

We had a great solar eclipse party despite not seeing much of it. You can read about our fun here.

The last day of summer vacation was pretty laid back. It included dance parties, plenty of backyard time, and a cartoon or two.

My house seems soooo quiet and calm, even with a few remaining littles. It should be of no surprise that I've already half of next summer planned with activities (and school breaks)!