Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Tyke Camp

We're into the third week of Tyke-ness. I've continued to be privileged with really excellent helpers. Last week's theme, unintentionally, was "messiness" admittedly one day we did schedule "messy play" but the rest? That was just because we're such lucky ducks.

We've done bunches of cookery...stuff. We made coconut ice (essentially dessicated coconut, sugar, and food colouring), jelly, pretzels, and today we made cheese straws.

Can I suggest something? if you're cooking with children, maybe don't start with something that a) you don't have the correct measuring tools for and b) you don't know what consistency the dough is meant to be. In spite of having no clue what I was doing the cheese straws somehow, miraculously, turned out just fine.

We've started presenting cooking in a TV show style way: we set up a table at the edge of the classroom and cluster them all on the floor around and call them up in pairs to do any stirring or mixing or rolling or what have you. This has been fine so far since most of what we've been making has had a barrier (i.e., a spoon) between the tykes' hands and the food. For the pastry today, though, we were mixing with our fingers which is when something occurred to me: the floor? In the classroom? It is *filthy* and the tykes? sitting on it? Keep putting their HANDS on it. So we had them washing their hands constantly- once so they could touch the dough, again because they couldn't get to the dough without touching the floor again, once more because seriously: don't touch the floor, a further time because do you want to mix the dough? DON'T TOUCH THE FLOOR!, and a final time after their hands were all floury and buttery from the pastry.

Last week with the pretzels I decided that next time I'm going to be a bit more emphatic about what shapes are allowed. No, you don't get to stand at the table for twenty minutes making a snake and then making a ball and than making a snake again- other tykes have not had their turn! Make the first letter of your name and then SIT DOWN. If you want to play with dough? We have some beautiful, perfect, homemade, blue play dough right over there. Yes, it's been there all morning. Right there. On the table. Over there. That table, in the corner. Yes, that one.

You can roll and flatten and roll that dough to your heart's content. But this? This needs to be put into an oven.

Seriously kid.

Right, that blob? That's what you made! Well done!

Now, shoo.

We've done some arts and crafts as well. Lydia brought in this brilliant science activity book so we had Science Day! (you can tell on the weekly schedule which things I have invented and which I've copied and pasted from earlier schedules made by other people. Mine all have exclamation points...) We made air rockets with card, tape, and paper straws. We made climbing lizards (looking a friction don'cha know). We've painted pasta and made pasta necklaces, made ingenious hand print and glitter fish puppets, spinning spiral mobiles, and huge STACKS of colouring in.

This week is quite a bit smaller so I've only got one helper a day instead of two. Because there are so few kids I've started taking specific orders for colouring. It turns out that there are brilliant databases for printable colouring pages. Anything you could possibly want to colour in can be found on the Internet. Thank you, Internet.

I tell you about all of these exciting activities we've been doing (and I haven't even mentioned the trips to the playgrounds and the science museum!) but you know what they get really, really excited about? And play with for literally hours on end? The train set.

Three year olds are awesome.

(PS. "Messy Play" involves covering the tykes in smocks, sitting them down at a table, and putting trays of stuff in front of them. Specifically corn flour mixed with water, shaving foam and glitter, hair gel and glitter, and shaving foam and sand. They liked it okay but I LOVED it. We had a very fastidious set of tykes that day. Most of the corn flour + water mix that ended up on the floor was entirely my fault. As was *all* of the shaving foam that ended up in the tykes' hair and on their faces. I'm so embarrassed...)

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