Stella Explores Edible Paint

I am constantly on Pinterest searching for interesting sensory experiences suitable for infants. I do this not only for my 6 month old (Stella) but also as a way to find ideas for the Baby Nido class at my school. One idea I really loved was edible paint consisting of only two ingredients: yogurt and food coloring. I decided to prepare some on this beautiful gloomy morning for my daughter, Stella.

I mixed half a cup of organic plain yogurt with three drops of food coloring in a small bowl.  I did this three times to create three colors for Stella to explore. Then, I placed a blanket outside with Stella’s Boppy underneath to help support her in sitting position and I placed Stella on the blanket. Stella gets so excited when she is exposed to something new that she hardly contains herself. She immediately pushed her body towards the blue shade of yogurt paint and picked it up .

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She put the bowl of blue paint down and thought for a moment.

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She reached for the yellow paint, pushing the blue paint out of the way.

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She picked up the yellow bowl of paint and mouthed the side…her first taste of the yogurt.

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I think she liked it…

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Then, she noticed the puddle of yogurt paint that had gathered by her feet. She rubbed it with her hand for a moment before she decided to explore the purple paint.

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She brought the bowl of purple paint to her mouth. In doing so, the purple paint dripped all over her foot. She noticed the purple paint on her foot and began to rub it with her hands.

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Then, she positioned herself so that she could see the paint on the blanket.

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She sat for a minute, touching the paint on the blanket.

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Then, she sat up and wondered what to do next.

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She stacked the bowls of paint on top of one another and then began to show an interest in the leaves that had fallen near the blanket.

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This experience lasted about 15 minutes which is a great length of time for an infant. Stella was engaged throughout the entire experience. She was quiet, concentrated, and content. Not once did she complain or seem to want the experience to end. When babies first interact with the world, they don’t have words to describe what they encounter, but they do absorb information through their senses. This is why sensory experiences are great for infants. A few benefits of sensory experiences are that they can be therapeutic, they can improve motor skills, they can raise awareness of how the world works, and they can contribute to language acquisition, all while being a lot of fun!

 

 

 

A Dewy Morning Spent Pumpkin Carving

I really love the type of weather we’re having this morning. It is a little cooler and it had just rained so everything is enveloped by that wet, fragrant, dewiness of a morning after the rain.Our plants are so happy today…so lush and green. We decided to take advantage of the beautiful morning by carving a pumpkin to celebrate the season.

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Happy Fall!

 

A Lovely, Rainy Day at Zoo Miami

We spent the morning at Zoo Miami. It was a gloomy morning which made our experience extra special. We packed our raincoats, Dylan put on his favorite rain boots, and we headed to the zoo for a fun-filled morning. I love to be out on gloomy, rainy days. Everything is brighter, more fragrant, and peaceful…

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Scarecrow Night at School

Yesterday was Scarecrow Night at my school. This is a really special event where families come together to create a unique scarecrow using whichever materials they’d like. This way, each scarecrow has it’s own look and serves to represent the family who made it. These unique and beautiful scarecrows line the outside of the school for the following several weeks. It’s so much fun to create a scarecrow and add it to the collection. It’s just as fun to marvel at everyone else’s special scarecrow. This is a wonderful annual event that I felt lucky to experience as a parent this year. Shaun, Dylan, Stella, and I worked together to create our scarecrow. What a wonderful way to celebrate fall. I’m so glad that I brought my camera along to capture this special event. I will treasure these memories forever.

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Beautiful Bubbles

Bubbles are so magical. Once you blow softly through a bubble wand, a sea of bubbles emerge. They float around slowly and, sometimes, in numbers so large that they can overwhelm you. How cool is that for a child? That is actually equally as cool for me. I love bubbles!

Recently, I purchased several types of bubbles from Babiesrus. The type I was most excited about was the one called Fubbles: Super Giant Wand. Big bubbles are so beautiful and alluring. I couldn’t wait to try it with Dylan.

Shaun and I, having both had Thursday and Friday off due to Hurricane Matthew, decided to try the bubbles on Friday night. The pictures are a little hazy and weird but I kind of like them.

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Dylan absolutely loved the bubbles. He smiled, laughed, chased them around our little backyard, and seemed to be truly engaged in the experience.

One day, when I have a very large outdoor space,  I will create this beautiful bubble set with Dylan and Stella ❤

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The Baby Nido Project – An Introduction

The Baby Nido Project is a really great project that we started up this year. We decided to begin this project because we wanted the Baby Nido class to be just as active within our school family as all the other classes. In my school we encourage collaboration between different grades and we value a sense of school family yet the Baby Nido class never seemed to be involved in active collaboration. This year, we decided to do something about that.

There are several children in the school that we knew really loved babies. Carolina (age 9) and Brianna (age 8) are two students that have been really vocal about their adoration of the babies. They admired them from the windows in our old campus and, once in a while, spent an afternoon helping the Baby Nido teachers. This year, we invited them to be part of this special project.

Carolina, I feel, is at the heart of this project. Her mother, who is the curriculum specialist of our school, recommended her for this project. She told me how passionate Carolina is about babies. From her first encounter in the Baby Nido class I noticed that she has this unwaivering confidence with the babies. She is not afraid to pick them up (and does so very carefully), she genuinely enjoys being with the babies, and, perhaps most importantly, she really sees them. During her visits with the babies, I can tell how much she is noticing them. Her observations of the babies are always spot on and, already, she shows an understanding of how to meet their needs. One of my favorite things about Carolina is how she can’t get enough of the babies. Whenever I bump into her in the hallways at school she asks when I will take her to the baby class and for how long will the visit be. On top of that, she regularly spends her after school time in the Baby Nido class! I love her passion!

Brianna also really loves babies. I have known Brianna for years. I was actually her teacher for kindergarten. She is bright, enjoys being helpful, and is very nurturing. Her mother, who is a fellow teacher at my school, recommended her for this project. She mentioned how much Brianna loves babies. From her first visit with the babies, I saw her love for them. She became very vocal about doing things to benefit the babies. For instance, on one of the days they wanted to read to the babies but got caught up in snuggling with them. Brianna kept to the goal. She was a constant reminder that their job is to mentor the babies.  I noticed how much she wanted to honor the intent of this project and, when I watch her with the babies, I can feel her happiness in those moments. I so enjoy watching her interact with the babies because she really lights up when she’s with them. Her excitement becomes contagious and I find myself watching her and feeling genuinely happy that this project has emerged.

The first aspect of this project is simply bonding with the babies. In order to create this special school family, where everyone knows and cares for everyone, there has to be time spent together. Each week, we invite the girls to have at least one visit with the babies where they help facilitate something special. So, sometimes they read to the babies, sometimes they play instruments, sometimes they take the babies outside, etc.

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Another aspect of this project is encouraging the older children to share their observations of the babies. We ask them open-ended questions all the time to encourage the older children to think deeply and to really get to know the babies. We have also invited the older children to create a portrait of each baby and to share their observations of the babies as well.

The babies in the Baby Nido class…

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Lucas by Carolina

Brianna: Lucas has dirty gold hair and he’s little. Lucas likes to play with leaves, he likes being outside, um, and he has little animal shoes.

Carolina: Lucas loves picking stuff up off the ground.

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Stella by Brianna

Carolina: Stella is very active and she likes going outside and she plays very happy when people talk to her and stuff. She’s a ball of joy because she’s very happy when she’s outside. Maybe she likes being outside more than inside.

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Dylan by Brianna

Brianna: Dylan has chubby cheeks and she’s very cute. She’s happy a lot…she likes to be outside. Dylan likes to play with the sparkly white cloth in her class. She is a very fun baby to play with a lot.

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Zuri by Carolina

Carolina: Zuri, she’s sometimes happy and sometimes sad. She likes doing what she wants. She’s very pretty with that little bow and everything. She’s very cute.

Brianna: Zuri sometimes likes to be outside.

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Chloe by Carolina

Carolina: Chloe is adorable and she loves to play outside and she loves her mom and stuff. She’s very happy outside.

Brianna: Chloe is a very cute baby; she is very fun. She likes to be outside a lot…she loves the grass.

The last aspect of this project is the creation of books and toys for the babies. Carolina is an aspiring designer and knows how to use a sewing machine. Brianna is also very creative and is eager to learn how to use the sewing machine. Carolina and Brianna are working towards the creation of a soft book titled Nature Story for the Baby Nido class. The reason for the subject of the book is that the girls came to the conclusion that the babies really enjoy being outside and, perhaps, they can learn more about nature through this book. They intend to create a series of soft books that they feel will be beneficial to the babies. Eventually, they’d also like to create toys, pillows, and even a mobile for the Baby Nido class.

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Brianna and Carolina work on the illustrations for their first book.
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Cover drawing for their book.

 

 

 

A Day at the Farm: Pinto’s Pumpkin Patch

We spent the afternoon at Pinto’s Farm today. Pinto’s Farm is a lovely farm that’s five minutes from our house. They offer lots of wholesome things to do with your family like paddle boating (even babies can ride!), pony rides, tractor rides, a petting zoo and more. This month they are featuring a pumpkin patch. I thought it would just be a simple change like a few pumpkins here and there but, to my surprise, they had gone all out in the most beautiful way! They hung pumpkins and ghosts from the trees, they had several spots set up to take beautiful holiday pictures, they had trick-or-treating, face painting, and they even had a hay maze! It was a lot of fun!

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Super Easy & Super Fun Pumpkin Dough

I regularly search Pinterest for exciting ideas to suggest to the teachers at my school. An added bonus is that I get inspired to do some pretty special things with my children. I found a 2 ingredient recipe for pumpkin dough that looked like so much fun. In the past, I’ve prepared moon sand, scented dough, cloud dough, and lots of other doughs but this one is my favorite! It is so easy to prepare and has the best, most malleable texture, the most delicious scent, and it keeps its shape!

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The recipe is super simple! All you do is take about 12 ounces of cornstarch and mix it with one 15 ounce can of pumpkin puree. You can add pumpkin pie spice to it to give it that special scent or, like me, you can just purchase the pumpkin pie puree 🙂 This was so easy and my son LOVED it!

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Stella’s Experience in the Baby Nido Class

Stella takes part in so many wonderful experiences while in class at school. She has two wonderful teachers named Ms. Michelle and Ms. Maria . They are dedicated, nurturing, and seem to really enjoy watching as the children explore many new and interesting materials. I, as atelierista, plan with one of her teachers every week. Ms. Michelle and I work closely together to plan special experiences, reflect upon the experiences that have gone on in the classroom, and discuss ideas for the future. Over the past few weeks, Stella has taken part in several amazing experiences. She absolutely loves every new encounter she has. Whenever her teachers place her near a new material, she smiles, moves her arms and legs in excitement, and screams with joy. It’s really special to watch…

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Ms. Michelle and Stella during one special experience.
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Stella explores a special block of ice.

The block of ice is super easy to create. You just take a wipe container, fill it 1/2 way with water, add plants to it, and freeze it.

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Stella explores a sensory bag.

The sensory bag is also really easy to create. You just place oil and water along with a few drops of watercolor in a ziplock bag. You can also duct tape the ziplock  bag to a surface so that it stays stable during the exploration if you’d like.

A Special Invitation: Sensory Dough

Last weekend I prepared several batches of sensory dough. The sensory dough I prepared was comprised of flour, salt, cream of tartar powder, and herbs. I’ll post the recipe below. It’s such a simple and natural recipe that I knew would stimulate the senses while providing children with extended periods of exploration. I decided to prepare a double batch so that I could offer some to the Baby Nido class at my school and some to Dylan and Stella.

I placed a table cloth on our dining table, brought out a few clay tools and cookie cutters, and invited Dylan and Stella to explore.

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Stella immediately grabbed a piece of the dough and began to mouth it. I love how interested she becomes when offered something new to explore. In this case, she was mouthing the dough more than I thought was safe so I tried to pull it from her mouth. I was surprised by how upset she became. She looked so angry as she pulled the dough from my hands and towards her mouth. I was shocked.

 

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My husband took this picture once I gave the dough back to Stella. She immediately began to mouth it again.
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Then, she held the dough out to her brother.
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She began to whine…I think in order to get his attention.

That was a special moment between them for me. Stella is always so interested in what Dylan is doing. I think she really enjoyed this invitation, to explore alongside her brother. It seemed that she was trying to share her discovery with Dylan. Dylan was immersed in his own exploration with the dough so he didn’t really notice her effort in calling his attention. Once she whined, he looked to her and that was enough for Stella.

Stella seemed to be more interested in watching Dylan at this point so I held her in my lap and we watched Dylan together.

Dylan really enjoyed this experience. He was drawn to the chocolate dough. He held it to his nose and commented on how it smelled. I believe he said something like “delicious!”.

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Then, he created a little snowman with the dough. He used different herb-scented balls in creating his snowman. He stayed engaged in this exploration for at least half an hour 🙂

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Sensory Herb-scented Dough Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup of all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • 2 tbsp salt
  • 1 tsp cream of tartar
  • Herb/Spice (2 tbsp of cocoa powder for batch 1) (1tsp paprika for batch 2) (2 tbsp of pumpkin spice for batch 3) (2 tbsp ground sage for batch 4)

Instructions

  • Place all ingredients into a pot, mix, and cook over medium low heat, stirring constantly until the mixture resembles a ball of dough.
  • Place ball of dough onto a piece of wax paper, let it cool, and then knead until the consistency you desire.

*You have to make a separate batch for each scent.

*I found this recipe on Pinterest. It was originally created by craftulate.com.