Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Daycare In December

I love December simply for all of the daycare activities I get to have the kids do! There's our usual All I Want For Christmas wall (that I failed to get a picture of apparently) that lists what all of the kids want for Christmas, there's our much loved Polar Express Day, the sensory activities, the ornament making, the caroling,treats,  and this year, every Christmas movie we could watch!

The kiddos were spoiled during December and got to watch a Christmas movie nearly every day while they ate lunch. I no longer feel like I've wasted money on Christmas movies now that they were all watched at least once throughout December. Here's some highlights from our holiday themed month:

The All I Want For Christmas wall is my second favorite (my first is the thankful wall at Thanksgiving time) thing to do for daycare. I love hearing about what the kids want. One child asked for a Power Wheels, another kids asked for a new Halloween costume, and the above is what the kids said the daycare baby wanted for Christmas. I smiled every time I looked at that wall throughout the month.

We settled into a nice routine. The kids all love the baby, but it's taken some getting used to having a baby around. Having to remember not to randomly kick your feet near someone laying on the ground is tough work.... However, they are pretty baby obsessed. Any time he cries, or makes any kind of noise for that matter, they're crowded around him, in unison saying "the baby needs you now!"

I happily splurged on Step 2's new Christmas toys. We had the Christmas tree already, but as soon as I saw the rocking reindeer, snowman, and gingerbread house, I couldn't pass them up! The Snowman is my's like a big Mr. Potato head!

I grabbed these felt cookie sets in the Target Dollar Spot. These were for our quiet tabletop play for the month. 

This fall I enacted a big family makeover. With ten hour workdays, followed by a few more hours each day of writing and/or work for the Des Moines Children's Museum, I gave up a lot of my responsibility of running the household. The boys are now in charge of keeping the daycare room picked up (vacuumed, swept, and sprayed down with cleaner), unloading the dishwasher, switching out laundry, trash, and recycling. Elizabeth has a lighter load assisting the boys when needed, but she'll gain more responsibility as she gets older. One afternoon, Harrison took it upon himself to explain to the baby (while I was wearing him in the carrier) how to unload the dishwasher and to "be careful not to break the breakable stuff or mom will roll her eyes at me." Baby's learning the important things in life early.

The minis get home from school a lot earlier this year. It's in the middle of our daycare day, so the minis have plenty of time to play with the other kids and their friends. Now that the weather is colder, board games are broken out nearly every afternoon and played.

Painted Christmas trees.

The kids spent a good portion of the month playing reindeers. This mostly entailed them crawling on their hands and knees making odd grunting noises. Surprisingly, the subject of which reindeer they were didn't come up. I fully expected fights over who got to be Rudolph.

Christmas slime. Slime can be hit or miss with the kids. This was a miss (more like they just weren't in the mood to play with it on this day) so we've taken a temporary break from slime making.

A good portion of my day is spent sitting on the floor with the baby in my lap so he can watch the big kids play and run by him. The kids also know this is the time when they can touch his feet, otherwise we have a no touching or grabbing the baby or his toys policy!

The felt Christmas tree wasn't as loved as I had hoped, but it was still a great deal and added to our holiday theme.

A school night pizza party with friends. I have to laugh at the cat, who fully believes he should be sitting with the kids eating as well. It wasn't just this meal he did this with. He did this every living room lunch picnic too. The kids just expect it now.

We got to decorated the Children's Museum's Harry Potter tree at Christkindlmarket.

Salt dough ornaments. This was a two day project. One morning was spent making the dough and cutting out the shapes (followed by the baking portion) and the next day they were painted (followed by another day or two of drying). I love doing these every year. I currently have enough to decorate an entire 8 ft. tree....and that's just from my minis!

There were plenty of homemade treats and snacks throughout the month, from sweet Chex Mix, to homemade cookies, to a Christmas tree fruit tray with chocolate dipping sauce.

Every year I have the kids decorate stockings, but this year I thought everyone probably had enough mini stockings from previous years. I played off the kids love to pack things into bags and had them decorate Christmas bags. I stuck a few treats in there for them to take home too.

Also this school year my minis are in charge of packing their own lunches. We have some interesting combos and meltdowns when they can't fit half of a pineapple in their lunchbox, but for the most part it goes pretty smoothly.

December brought a lot of new toys to daycare. Some of the big ones were the Step 2 Christmas toys, a new train table, and the odds and ends toys (like the animal figurines pictured above) to be thrown into our everyday play toys.

Between their skip day at the beginning of December due to a night at the theatre and an extra long holiday break, the minis got to spend plenty of time at home with their friends.

We tried out splatter painting for the first time. It took a minute for the kids to get down how to do it, but after a few practice tries they had it. This will probably be reserved for an outside painting project in the future.

St. Nicholas came one day during naptime and left the kids candy canes and chocolate ornaments. The kids were surprisingly timid about getting their treats out of their shoes.

Sugar cookie play dough kept the kids busy for a full day.

One of the kid's favorite things from the month of December was our Find The Pickle game. I'm sure you've heard about finding the pickle ornament on the Christmas tree Christmas morning (whoever finds it is the person who gets to open the first present or receives a special present). Every morning after clean up time, the kids went into the living room to hide their eyes while I hid the pickle. There were no prizes or presents involved in our version, but that didn't see to both the kids one bit. We could have played this game all day every day!

More ornaments.

Lunch time living room picnic for one of the many Christmas movies we watched. I was thrilled to discover our copy of The Little Drummer Boy had been found. I was so sure it was lost and was disappointed about "needing" to buy a new copy. The kids gave me a funny look during my happy dance when I found it.

One of the many treats: marshmallow snowmen. This was the perfect afternoon snack because it kept them busy making their snack before they inhaled it!

The cardboard Santa's Workshop only last two weeks, but the kids loved coloring and playing in it. We had to create a rule about not shutting the door (the door eventually got cut off so I didn't have to keep saying it) to avoid box cuts on little fingers.

One of my favorite Christmas albums. The kids got to listen to it a lot too.

Love notes to my minis. I only got one back (from this lil dude actually), but all three read it, gave me hugs, told me they loved me, folded their letter back up, and stuck it in their nightstands. I think they enjoyed them.

I got smart with sugar cookie decorating. Each child got their own plate with cookies, sprinkles, frosting, and spreader. Everyone's germs stayed on their own plate and cookies. This also helped contain the sprinkles mess.

This year's parents presents: decorated sugar cookies, colored wine glasses, and mini bottles of wine along with a hand print (or foot print if their child didn't cooperate with the hand print!) ornament.

The baby really is the star of daycare these days.

Foam sticker trees. I hated these things. No one could get the white paper backing of the stickers so it was an hour of me sitting on a stool taking the backs off each and every foam sticker. 

Another day, another lunch, another movie. This time it was a showing of the Nutcracker ballet. All eyes were glued to the screen. I had to remind them to eat and whenever I spoke, I was met with a "sshhh."

You *might* remember my rant about my youngest and losing her new Amazon Echo (read about that here). She earned it back throughout the month of December, along with a new bedroom sign she begged me for (Wildflowers is one of her favorite songs).

"I'll help you take off your boots." Moments later there were tears because he accidentally got kicked in the chin. I predicted this and told them it was a bad idea. No one listened. At least there was no blood this time. This is the story of my every day.

Pizzas straight from Chicago in the middle of the month. Also, fried pies from Arbuckle Mountain Fried Pies. I love falling in love with everything local when we travel. Unfortunately, since it's not an easy hop, skip, and jump to southern Oklahoma for us, I'm able to call some of our faves and have them shipped to us. 

More ornaments. This time I laid tinsel, bows, glitter, pom poms, and more on the table and let them stuff them into these clear, plastic ornaments.

Another new toy that kept the kids busy all day. These kiddos love Play Doh...especially when they can make it look like poop.

Christmas tree veggie tray and Christmas tree grilled cheese. We also did Christmas tree shaped quesadillas, green pasta (shaped like a tree on their plates), and so much more.

Our hot chocolate bar for Polar Express Day.

I saw this from one of my teacher friends and since I have a good deal of preschoolers this year, I gave it a try with them. I loved how this question got them talking about Christmas, their beliefs, and what they really think happens on Christmas Eve.

Again, I gave them full access to the craft supplies and this is what happened. These gingerbread men see everything!

One of their new favorites: Model Magic (or clay). They love making it soft, then creating something, only to destroy it and create something new. I love it because it keeps them busy and engaged.

Daycare's treat bags this year included M & M's, a Hot Wheel, Play Doh, and a candy cane (or "candy can" if you're three). The cheap-o Hot Wheel was the winner in these bags.

This year I set a goal for the minis: to treat as many teachers and staff in their school to Starbucks and Target gift cards. We had so much fun filling out the cards. I so wish I could have been a fly on the wall when they spread their Christmas cheer the last day before break began.

Also a reason I cut off the door: because they kept shutting each other out of the house causing tears. Of course with the door off that meant they could shove as man kids as possible into the house until it tipped over....or there wasn't enough room for every single kid and one kid was still left out. And here I thought it would be a perfect solution...

We got our Winter Break start with It's A Wonderful Life and Ben and Jerry's ice cream! 

While December was great, it's also a great time for kids to get off routine, which means the end of December/beginning of the new year is always rough. The kids were so hyped up about Santa and kept so extra busy that the weeks after Christmas always seem so exhausting. I managed to save all of our snow themed activities for January and February to give us something to look forward to as we work to get into routine.