Thursday, July 30, 2020

An Escape Room At Home

The kids have loved Find It games and scavenger hunts for as long as I can remember. The subject of Escape Rooms came up and they requested to "go do one all together." Obviously, I'm not taking daycare to an escape room place (are they even open right now??), but I did the next best thing and created our own that was appropriate for all ages. Since some kids didn't have a grasp on what an escape room was, I made it more of a scavenger hunt with clues. Each clue led the kids to the next clue, which eventually led them to a "key" (a good ol' colored key shape). The "key" color had a corresponding lock color on each door to the daycare room. The kids had to match the key and lock color to escape the daycare room. Naturally, there was a surprise for them on the other side of the door they were escaping from!

These were the clues and hidden throughout the room: in a toy eagle's talons, in one of our Green Eggs And Ham books (because we seem to have collected multiple copies), Quake game, in the sensory bin, in the toy phones, in the crayons, in Zeus' toys, under the big table, in the play trains, and in a cubby. The 10-12 years old figured the clues out easily (only a few wrong guesses), the younger kids couldn't figure them out at all, but happily went along with the bigger kids, and the middle kids (ages 6-9) were the ones who were challenged the most.

Once someone figured out where the clue was, they'd shout it out and the mass of kids would rush over to the spot. I loved watching the youngest clap and shout "yay!!" whenever the kids found another clue....

Once they found the blue key, the older kids handed it over to the little kids and let them color match, plus they had to match the correct shape and size of the key to the lock. Then, behind the door they were greeted with one final challenge: a spy maze of sticky tape!

The kids did great following directions: through the maze, out the door, up to the porch, and in through the front door. We rarely use that door, so they were thrilled to walk through it--it was like a treat to them!

Even the youngest got a turn at the maze! Of course, he had the bigs directing him!

This was a great and fairly easy activity to put together that was done with ages 1-12. The older kids enjoyed figuring out the clues (the oldest ones said they were too easy, but still enjoyed the activity and asked how many times we could do it) and the younger kids liked matching the colors, key, and lock shapes. I challenged the kids to make their own for next week that challenges the older kids, but also incorporates the younger kids. I'm anxious to see how they do with this challenge, considering the theme they came up with is Murder At The Daycare.....never a dull moment around here!

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Summer Coronacation Weeks 7 & 8

Highlights of the last two weeks include kids cooking (or learning to cook) and meal planning, getting our first Universal Yums box and learning all about the UK, scavenger hunts (both ones I made and ones the kids came up with). We did a lot more; even more that I failed to get pictures of. I'm trying very hard to enjoy the moments, be present, and not live with a camera in my hand. I've had a great time with the kids, but I really miss having the physical evidence of what we did.

Here is a bit of what I did capture:


The kids got very creative with the meal planning. They made pancakes, spaghetti, ramen with chicken and veggies, french toast, sandwiches, berries with melted chocolate drizzled on top, and even more throughout the last two weeks. I was very impressed and I only had to jump in and finish up food twice. I did have to give a lesson on how to break up spaghetti and put in the pot!

Since we can't have any dolls that have any kind of cloth on them (Covid guidelines), so we bring out the plastic, bathtub dolls when the kids want them. I bought these years ago at Toys R Us and they're still in good condition. I set up a doll washing area for the week. During week two, we brought out Crayola dry erase markers and the kids got to color on the dolls, then wash them!

Someone loves the mud kitchen as much as the kids. He likes to go behind it, eat the weeds, then come and dig in the mud.

As I flipped french toast and made enough for each kid to have 3 or 4, I was quickly reminded why I like simple breakfasts!

Learning music notes through a matching game and the importance of checks and balances. The kids had a hard time understanding this one, so in the coming weeks we'll be learning more about checks and balances and the importance of local government. All important topics right now.

Also during Kids Cook Week (which became weeks), they were taught to clean up your mess when cooking.

Notice Zeus has a bed (a couple of them actually), but he prefers to sleep on the kids...and sometimes shoves himself on the entire mat while the kid hangs on the edge of it. We file this under things we're working on.

The challenge one afternoon was to build a Lego boat that floats. Once completed, it just became play with your Lego creations in the water.

This is how my dog sleeps in his kennel. Not often, but on a few occasions, he's gotten "thrown" in the kennel in the middle of the day because he needs a nap. The kids always laugh when they hear him snoring minutes after the door closes.

The kids got to play with the Lego's. The one rule I had was the all Lego's were to stay on the table. Guess what didn't happen? They had to put them away and have to earn them back by showing me they can follow directions. 

The kids have gotten very creative with the Waffle Blocks.

I decided to give Universal Yums a try since all of the kids love learning about different parts of the world. We opened each package, read about it, tried it, and then rated it. Throughout the two weeks, we learned about the UK, did worksheets, listened to music from the UK, and even made cottage pie one day for lunch. We can't wait for next month's box!

During our weekend visit to the sunflower fields, Elizabeth picked up a sunflower head that had been cut off (not by us). We brought it back and daycare got to dissect it and look at the different parts of the sunflower. One thing we all learned is how sticky the inside of a sunflower is!

A pink wig that numerous children and even the dog wore. Easy entertainment.

This is the first year the kids have actually been helpful regarding daycare. That sounds horrible because all of the kids are truly wonderful and enjoy helping out. However, this year they're actually doing the work! They've planned and set up activities without my help or direction, they've cooked, cleaned, and made new rules to help the day go smoother. I'm forever grateful that nearly all of the kiddos I have I've had since they were babies, which means they know the rules and are comfortable. It's amazing and so rewarding to see as the one who has taught them these things. The biggest challenge this summer is trying to do these things with a dog who likes to "help" as they "helped" me for all those years!

They were going to make omelets, but we quickly decided making a dozen omelets would require a lot of time, so they made loaded eggs instead (eggs, bacon, green pepper, cheese). On a related note, I don't want to come to terms with my grocery bills!

Playing. Always. There's always some kind of play happening.

The kids requested our annual Zoo Day, where they play with all of the stuffed animals outside and create a zoo/pet shop/something else they come up with. The dilemma this year is that stuffed animals are against CDC Covid guidelines because stuffed animals hold in LOTS of bacteria and germs (stuffed animals and blankets are the worst offenders). I know this (it's science) and is the reason I put away stuffed animals for cold and flu season. However, I got parent's permission to play with the stuffed animals for one day in the backyard. The kids played Zoo Daycare (hence the pack n' plays used as "cages") the entire day. We also did a few zoo themed activities for the day too!

"Mom, come to the window. I made you a flower made from leaves." Art class and creativity happens every moment at our house.

Sometimes playing outside gets em' good, like in the middle of lunch. Harrison made crunchy quesadillas for lunch one day and this one started to fall asleep. I had to do the timeless mouth sweep for food before laying down for nap.

I make the kids work for their snack. They shucked the corn, I cooked it, and they ate it for snack.

We finally got the fence finished! Now dogs and kids will be fully contained in the backyard with good, sturdy fencing. We previously had temporary fencing up in part of the yard.

I couldn't figure out what the little one wanted as he kept coming up to Max and asking for "man man." Turns out it's Superman, where Max picks him up and spins him around. This was the first time I had seen him do it, so I asked about and Max replied, "oh yeah, when you were helping ____ in the bathroom, I was doing it with him. He didn't throw up at all!" Oh, well, thank god. Eye roll.

Max had help with his french dip sandwiches for lunch.

I couldn't figure out why none of the littler kids wanted to do the sprinkler. They kept telling me it was dangerous. As it turns out, the older kids use the Cozy Coupes to play the Floor Is Lava (this I knew), but covered it in water and mud so it was slick, causing other's to lose. So, the littles were correct in it being dangerous!

Much like a child, I told my dog "no" and he pouted.

The kids LOVE scavenger hunts (or as we call them, "find it games"). I went to pee and came back to the kids doing their own scavenger hunt they created. It apparently required jumping off of daycare toys. Another eye roll.

I placed a Lakeshore order and got this cool Multiplication Machine. One kid was explaining multiplication to the other, so she could get the answers correct. I love seeing them helping each other.

Yes, I love the journal entry, but I love the name Harrison written in Japanese. One afternoon, the kids did a Japanese writing activity and Harrison kept it going all week.

The kids had such a great time planning Kids Cook Week that they planned the coming weeks as well. They put together activity ideas, menus, and a power point of it all. I was impressed and proud.

Melted vegan chocolate chips (we like Enjoy Life brand the best) on top of fresh berries. Yummy! My counters have been even more messy than usual with the kids cooking and preparing snacks!

Unknown injuries are common during the summer months. A kid walked in from playing and had huge scrapes and bruises on the back of the neck. Obviously concerned, I asked what happened. The kid was totally clueless and had me take a picture of the injury to show him he was actually hurt.

Just a fun game of Marco Polo after learning about Marco Polo and his life.

The kids made a solar pizza oven so they could make mini s'mores pies on a hot day! Naturally, they were shocked how long it takes to cook in a solar oven and got the pies out before they were actually done.

There's always so many Pokemon cards floating around.

Somebody started virtual Puppy Kindergarten (the furry one), so we could all learn training tricks. Now, the biggest challenge is teaching them all to the daycare kids too.

Watching a movie and they're all within arms reach of or touching each other. I love seeing how close all of the kids have become.

It still funny to me to look back and see a dog in the middle of all the action.

I didn't have one issue keeping the kids out of the garden. I told them once not to go in it and everyone listened. The dog was the reason we had to pulll the carrots early. He tried to pull them out himself.

I love Elizabeth's advice for last Friday: 'Have fun, but don't get in trouble.' No one got into trouble. I surprised the kids after breakfast and informed them they got a free day. Typically, the four year olds rest quietly while the bigger kids read and write. They were soooo excited to hear that they didn't have to "be quiet or lay down" that day! It really is the little things!