Saturday, March 14, 2015

Easter Footprints

With Easter right around the corner, I wanted to share one of my favorite Easter decorations. We all know how much I love hand prints, you can read about the different crafts that I have created, 4th of July, Christmas, birthday gift, kissing hand activities,  Mother's day flowers, There is just something so sweet and perfect about artwork created using your child's hand prints or even footprints! 

I wanted to do something cute with the babies footprints from daycare and make it have an Easter feel without coming out and shouting "HELLO EASTER!"

After brainstorming and trying to figure out what I wanted to do, I thought, ok without getting religious. What else do you think of when you think of Easter. Oh yes, the Easter Bunny. What can I do with that? (If you asking if I really was thinking like this, then the answer is a big yes! Most of my craft projects happen like this). Oh yes, what do bunneis eat, carrots! 

We are doing footprint carrots. I am so glad I had an amazing co-teacher who was willing to go along with my silliness! 

We took orange paint and tried to get the best orange footprint from each infant that we could. After letting them dry, we cut them into a triangle shape. To create the carrot tops, we simply painted a piece of paper green and then cut them into little strips for the top. Aren't they just adorable?

Love the Easter Carrots

Here are all of the carrots from the class. 
It's a bad picture but the only way to fit them all in!

Hoppy Easter!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Teach at Home Thursday: Grass Seed

Working in many different settings over the years, I have done tons of different activities. I love when I can take a simple activity and recreate it at home or even at school. The more simple the better. 

When I lived in Vermont, I learned the meaning of snow. I swear it never stops snowing there! Ok, well is does but come March time, the snow is beyond getting old. We needed some green in the classrooms. 

Again, having a ton of left over items everywhere, I wanted to plant and allow the children to watch something grow! 

In Montessori, a lot of the learning is through observation and manipulation of materials. Using old baby food jars, I had the infants (this particular group of children was 13-18 months old) help me plant grass seed. 

First any time you can allow children to play with dirt inside you are already ahead of the game! They poured and poured and poured the dirt over and over again. It was so much fun to play with them in the dirt. 

After a few minutes, we added in the seeds to the bin. I wasn't particularly too worried about how the seeds would grow. It is grass and luckily grass is pretty easy to grow. I wanted them to explore the different textures of the soil and the seeds. 

Using cups and the baby food jars, the children helped to our the dirt and seeds into the jars. They had no clue that the seeds would grow and that was alright, as they were having fun with the soil. 

one set of jars for one of the infant classrooms

the other set of jars for the other infant classroom

we had so much soil left over we planted it in ice cube trays and a muffin tin

The seeds were placed in the windowsill where they not only got lots of light but the children could see them grow.  The muffin tin and the ice cube tray never grew, I think it is because they were so shallow and the roots couldn't take hold. We dumped those into a metal bowl. 

Two weeks later this is what we saw in our baby food jars:

As you can see from the pictures some of the seeds took longer than two weeks to germinate. The children loved watching the grass grow. They could see the seeds germinate through the glass and then slowly grow and poke through the top of the soil. 

The grass grew pretty long and then we would trim it. When we trimmed it, the children were able to play with the grass clippings and explore the jars. If our children were older like a preschool classroom, we would have done with more the growth of the plants and allowed them to trim the grass. You can read how my children studied plants and their growth

Activities like these are my favorites because you can easily change the scope of the lesson without changing the activity just by adding more pieces. Children can study the growth and draw pictures if they are old enough, you can incorporate measurement and time, just by tracking it! So many fun extension activities. What about gardening and learning how to grow your own food. I could go on and on here.

Here is our grass bowl after a month. I just loved how full the grass grew in and how pretty it looked with the green grass and silver bowl. 

The butterfly is the perfect touch isn't it?

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Travel Tuesday: Vermont: Moss Glen Falls

Vermont has beautiful hidden gems throughout the countryside. I love how I can be driving in the middle of no where and all of a sudden I find this amazing place. That's exactly how I stumbled upon Moss Glenn Falls.  There are actually two waterfalls in Vermont with the same name, I haven't a clue as to why. The first Moss Glen Falls is located about three miles north of Granville, VT in Addison County when traveling on Route 100; about an hour south of Burlington.  The falls are in the White Mountain National Forest. 
so pretty, view from the deck

This waterfall is the most photographed waterfall in Vermont and it is easy to see why. The location is very easy to get too and you have a designated trail. From all of the research that I have done, you are not supposed to swim in the waterfall. I haven't seen signs posted on the multiple trips that we had been there. Basically, swim at your own risk!

Once you have arrived at the falls, there is a nice sized parking area. I've been to the falls on different occasions and have never had an issue with parking, even in the winter. You can walk up the wooden trail to the falls and have a peek. You will not be disappointed. They are absolutely stunning. 
wooden bridge/trail to the waterfall

As you walk on the trail you come up to a sign that explains the waterfall, the source of the water, the Granville Reservation. Love reading and learning about local stuff!

Finally, you will come to the waterfall and you won't be disappointed. 

During our trips here, we saw a ton of people; some of the people were just there to have fun in take in the falls and others were there in a professional capacity. Remember this is the most photographed waterfall in Vermont. 

My kiddos loved climbing on the rocks and trying to explore the area. There are some flat areas in which you could have a picnic or sunbathe. 

the rocks that frame the waterfall

the base of the waterfall

Pumpkin took this picture, she said the water made the rocks look cool!

rocks along the river

tree stump during our hike around the waterfall. 
The waterfall is beautiful all year round and you are able to visit it as well. Just be careful as the trail isn't always clear of ice and snow. 

It isn't Vermont if you don't see a barn or a covered bridge, as as you are leaving the waterfall you see both. 

Enjoy your hike. 

Monday, February 2, 2015

Travel Tuesday: Great Corn Maze

If there is one thing that I love about Vermont it is their ability to make something out of nothing. Vermont is a one of those places you either love or hate. It can be very boring at times, especially when the weather is bad. I also always felt like if you wanted to explore or do something it was a drive and usually on the expensive side. 

I loved taking the children to the Great Vermont Corn Maze located in Danville, VT. It has recently selected as one of the top 10 mazes! I can see why. The maze is open from August 1 to sometime in October really depending on the weather. 

You made it to the Great Vermont Corn Maze!

The maze is not the only activity to do, there is a petting zoo, a mini golf, an underground tunnel play yard and a kid town, we'll get back to those! Danville is about an hour and a half east of Burlington, and 15 minutes east of St. Johnsbury. 

Views of the Green Mountains of Vermont

The views on the way to the maze are incredible. I stopped a few times on the way to just take pictures. The kiddos were becoming upset with me but oh well! 

We arrived at the maze around 10:45 am, I wish we would have been there even earlier. It as 80 degrees the day we went exploring and the sun beats right down on you. After reading the website, they suggest that you bring drinks and snacks. The average person can complete the maze in 3-4 hours. Umm yeah, lots of preparation coming my way. I decided to bring a stroller for the little ones, even though they both can walk, I wanted to give them the option to have something to sit in. I am beyond glad that I did! It was hot and the maze was long, having the stroller was a blessing in disguise, I hung the bag with the drinks and snacks off of the handle bars and this kept me from having to carry it. Trust me you will thank me!
halfway through out journey we are still going strong

Alright back to the maze, you start the maze by purchasing your admission tickets. I want to say the youngest two were free and Peanut and I were $9.00 each but don't quote me on that. Our admission included the barnyard, mini golf, the kid town and the underground tunnels, a must in my book. 
walking up to the ticket office

Rules and regulations of the maze


Once you purchase your tickets you are given the general run down of the maze rules, you have two options, the smaller (easier) maze which is marked by brown doors with the route written out or the big maze where you are on your own. You are also given a G.P.S. to help you keep track of your route. There are check points through out the maze that have hole punches, this way you can punch your G.P.S. These are designed to help you from back tracking. If you choose the smaller maze, you can still punch your card because you can mess up those directions. My suggestion if you have a health problems, walking long distances is hard for you or you have younger children, take the smaller maze. No one is going to judge you and you will save your sanity. This route will still take you about an hour, so you will get your moneys worth. 
G.P.S. check point- inside is a different shaped hole punch

our G.P.S.- we forgot to punch it half the time!

You start the maze by choosing if you want to visit all of the other areas first or to do the maze. We decided the maze first as that was the reason for being there. 
directional sign

rules of the maze

Throughout the maze there are different fun elements that you can explore and have fun with while you are trying to solve the maze. Some of which are a wooden bridge, when you climb up on the bridge you can see above the maze. I was excited, I thought I would be able to see a path, think again. It was a sea of corn. Umm yeah no such luck. 
sea of corn

at least the view is pretty!

At one point, you will come to a boat, yes, you read correctly a boat, it gave the children something to climb on and explore. 

I wonder if this sets you up for the sea of corn you are going to see going over the bridge
The maze is set up in a way that you will really have to think about every decision you make. You have so many choices it can be overwhelming. 

yellow door, harder and bigger maze. Brown door easier and smaller maze

the root system- yes we took some time to analyze it!

Each year the maze is a different design and there are hints throughout the maze as to what the design is. You can look at the aerial photograph before you start but the kids thought that was cheating. My mouth dropped as if looking at a photograph was going to actually help us! We went in blind and honestly, I was kind of glad we didn't know what the maze was, it was more fun to discover it on the end. Shh don't tell the kiddos, that I admitted they were right!

At one point in the maze you will come to the bell of frustration, you can ring it to show how frustrated you are!
talk about a let down!

In the maze are also helpers placed periodically through out, these are staff members that can give you clues if you are really lost. We didn't use them, again the kids felt like they were cheating if they did. I have no clue where that idea came from, I was all for asking for help but what does Mama know? 

dinosaurs in a corn maze? hmm, I was dinner!

we are going the right way!
When you finally complete the maze, let me tell you what a sigh of relief it is! At the end of the maze is a huge bell that you can ring and a photo op that tells everyone you finished! We were so happy to be finished, it took us three hours and 22 minutes to solve the maze. I was very proud of us as we never asked for help and didn't use the help me doors!

woo hoo, I solved it!

Once you finish the corn maze, you are then dropped out to where you can make your way down to the barnyard, and mini golf area. Before you hit the mini golf area there is the hide and seek forest to play in. We opted not to do this as it resembled a maze too much and well we were a bit tired of those!

entrance to the hide and seek forest
 this was too much like a maze, we looked in and said "nope"

This path will also take you to the kid town and underground tunnels. After solving the maze, I was shocked that my kiddos even had any energy left to try and play. I know I was beat, but it was well worth it!

We came to the mini golf course, which had ten holes, I wasn't really paying attention so don't quote me on that.  What made the golf course so much fun was your club was an old cane. I mean who comes up with this stuff? It was hilarious to try and navigate the club in such a way that you were able to actually hit the ball in the direction you wanted it go. 

As you continue on the path, you walk right into Kid town, this was Pumpkin's favorite part. I think she even liked it better than the maze. The town had a jail, a shop, a trading post, a corral, a stable, a tee-pee and an old fashioned wagon. We played here for over an hour!

If you are able to pry your children away from the Kidtown, you can explore the underground tunnels and play barn area. Again, I have no idea how they had they energy to play in these sections! 

The last activity stop is the barnyard, where the kiddos interacted with goats. I cut this part of the visit short as we have been to petting zoos before and I really wanted to get on the road. We had over an hour drive back to the house. 

As our time at the maze came to an end, we were able to explore the gift shop. Inside the gift shop is the aerial photograph of the current and previous years mazes. Each year is a different design and they are amazing! 

14 years and counting!

This year's maze~ the dinosaur eating my head should have been a hint~ ha!

check your G.P.S.~ did you go the correct way?

Helpful hints about the maze: 
1. Arrive early and prepare to spend at least three hours (that's if you use the smaller maze).
2. Bring lots of water and snacks, even a picnic lunch. The concession stand only has snacky foods and after being there for hours, that doesn't cut it.
3. Bring a stroller, wagon or carrier of some sort for the younger ones. 
4. Wear sunscreen and hats (the sun, I swear, reflects off the corn), it was hotter in the corn maze than the rest of the activity places.
5. Try not to rush, you will tire yourself out
6. Enjoy the ride and take lots of crazy pictures

Fun facts about the maze:

1. It is one of the 10 best mazes in the country (woo hoo!)
2. The maze is actually started in the spring with the preparation of the fields.
3. Around the end of May, the maze is planted, 8 rows at a time.
4. When the corn is ankle high, the design is created and paths are made.
5. The corn is knee high by 4th of July.
6. It takes 11 months to create and work the corn maze, from start to finish.
7. The physical act of creating the maze, takes 6-8 weeks.
8. The aerial photo is taken when the corn is chest height and the leaves are start to fill out.
9. The maze opens when the corn is 6 ft tall.
10. By harvest time (sometime in October) the corn is 10 ft. tall.

I loved spending the day at the maze, it not only was a great adventure but a pretty budget friendly one as well. 

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