Tara's Toyland Home Daycare

Where Learning is Fun and Friendships Flourish


How to Plan a Curriculum

Posted by tarastoyland on December 17, 2019 at 6:50 PM Comments comments (2)

I love planning curriculum.  I think in college I should have gone into that as a field of study but I had no idea it was even an option. I did an independent study on why thematic teaching is the best method and developed my own theme as a college Senior. Coming up with creative ways to make all the spokes of learning connect together makes me so excited.  Often I think of a theme I want to do and start collecting items to go with it so that when I have enough I can dive into a new set of ideas.  In home daycare I will have the same kids from birth till kindergarten and I don't like to repeat themes for those kids so that means that I usually do about 10 themes a year for 3 or 4 different years before I repeat.  Sometimes I combine themes like Pirates and Under the Sea went together and Outer Space can go with Star Wars and sometimes it's a small part of a bigger theme that I concentrate on like Pets instead of just Animals. And with some groups the ages just don't work out to do a lot with a theme, right now I have 3 very young kids in the group who don't take a morning nap anymore so actual teaching is haphazard and it's more one on one with the older three as they need it.

Because I love doing curriculum plans I often will do them for other people that ask. My curriculum uses stuff almost all of us already have in our daycares and take very little prep really.  I hear of people spending hours getting things ready or printing stuff out and it just perplexes me as I never considered those things as a need for preschoolers. I might print out a dot to dot or an emergent reader but that is about it. Art is what I prep the most for really and that is only to make sure I have figured out the way to keep mess to a minimum and clean up the easiest (so having soapy washclothes ready if we are doing feet painting type of thing.) I end up retyping the same thing over and over and figured I could just make a blog post instead.

Step 1 - Decide on a theme, there are literally thousands of options. Any object can become a theme, there was a podcast on a preschool that did a whole theme on balls that lasted many months and was quite amazing with the kids analyzing the materials that the balls were made of and doing comparisons. They also did one on boxes that was very involved.

Step 2 - List the subjects you want to teach.  There are a lot of different ways people approach teaching in their own minds.  If you have infants you may want to do Sight, Sound, Touch, Taste, Smell.  There's the traditional Math, Science, Social Awareness, Large Motor, Small Motor, Reading Readiness, Writing, Music, Art.  So here are some other options:**Illinois Early Learning Standards ** Benchmarks – Language Arts, Mathematics, Science, Social Science, Physical Development and Health, Fine Arts, Foreign Language, Social/Emotional Development **Early Childhood Centers** sensory table, art, songs/music, math, science, large motor, fine motor, hands on center, dramatic play center, block center, self help, getting along with others and self (social/emotional), books/language/literacy **Early Learning Accomplishments Profile (ELAP test)** Fine motor, Gross motor, Cognition, Language, Self-help, Social-emotional **Areas of learning ** Personal, social and emotional development; Communication, language and literacy; Mathematical development; Physical development; Creative development; Knowledge and understanding of the world ** Dispositions to Learning ** Self-regulation of attention and behavior; Effective social skills to develop a positive relationship with others; Positive attitude toward learning; Self-motivation for learning; Listening skills; Ability to set goals and develop and follow through on plans; Understanding, accepting, and following rules and routines; Finding more than one solution to a question.

Step 3 - Make a chart where you write the subjects down one side and days of week across top or a spider graph where you put the theme title/goal in the middle and spokes out to boxes for each subject.  Now it's time to fill in the boxes.

Step 4 - Look for things to teach, or come up with them on your own, that cover that theme and those things. Do not search for workbook type pages. Do not search for cookie cutter art projects. Search for open ended art things and toy/game related activities. Put those in the boxes for each subject. Some themes will be heavy on one subject more than another. That's ok, just do the next theme as one that is heavier on a different subject and by the end of the year it will even out. Pinterest is a treasure trove of neat ideas as long as you are thinking of hands on and not worksheets or heavy prep things. In these blogs I have lots of different themes as examples. If you aren't sure what preschoolers need to learn search for that.  There are lots of free trainings on that type of thing and it is literally a deep enough subject that you can spend decades learning it, but it is preschool, not rocket science, just break down any skill to the smallest bits.  Writing their name?  Well first they need to know what a line or circle is, then be able to draw those, then to recognize those as letters, than have the fine motor skills to combine them into something recognizable.  Adding and Subtracting?  Well first they need to learn what numbers are, what order they come in, what "2" looks like when you have different objects (not the written number but the quantity), how to count out objects saying one number per object, to understand that you take away and go down in numbers, or put in more you count up. It is lots of different steps for each thing but it's intuitive if you think about it.  

Step 5 - teach! I like to start each lesson with a book (or two or five) that is on a certain subject within the theme.  So if I want to work on numbers I would read books that have numbers in them.  Want to do a lesson on dogs, read books with dogs in them.  Just so the lesson relates to the books in some way.  Then do an activity from your chart.  You can do a few of them - you just read dog books, talk about the /d/ sound or how to sound out d-o-g, find the word dog in the book and keep track of how many times you see it, count out all the stuffed dogs you have, sort them by type, or color, or size, do a running game where you put a dachsund over here and another across the room in a pile and they have to run down and find the match - all that combined would take less than 20 minutes.  Then I like to finish off with an art project.  Read my blog on art for what to do with that.  With our dog example I may use plastic dogs to walk in paint and make tracks on paper.  I may use dog toys to paint with or paw print cookie cutters.  I may have them glue fur down onto a dog shape.  And there you are, a quick lesson that covers all you need, with supplies you probably already own, in a way that will make sense to the kids and they can tell their parent when they give them the dog art project that they counted dogs that day and that dog starts with the d sound and are brown or black or white.  It will all tie together in their mind and not just be random.


Jack Be Nimble

Posted by tarastoyland on September 7, 2019 at 6:20 PM Comments comments (0)

During our Nursery Rhyme unit we did the rhyme Jack be Nimble.  First we jumped over candle sticks changing the rhyme to match the name of the jumper.  Then we changed it from candle stick (which rhymes with quick) to different objects and came up with rhymes for those new things.  For instnace "Miss Nora be nimble, Miss Nora be fair, Miss Nora jump over the daycare chair"  This was SUPER tricky so we had to figure out our rhymes first.  Rhyming is a prereading skill and essential for success in finding word patterns.  Next we had a lesson on fire.  We talked about fire safety by doing science experiments with actual fire.  What does a fire need to burn?  How hot is a fire?  What puts out a fire? What burns in a fire? We explored all of these questions and then ended the lesson with roasting marshmallows over an open fire (the fire on the stove).  The children all concluded that fire shouldn't be played with as it can burn wood and paper and houses are made of wood and paper. 

Art - process or product or both?

Posted by tarastoyland on August 1, 2015 at 11:40 PM Comments comments (0)

I love art.  I actually was an art teacher at a school for two years.  I have a minor in art and an art education endorsement.   I love to do art, I love to look at (most) art, I love how there are great stories behind famous art, I love to do artsy things.  

I also firmly believe that art can be used to teach almost every concept there is in early childhood education.  It can tie the curriculum together, it can make all the parts of a lesson become solidly formed in the child's mind.

In the early childhood field there is a debate on what is the way to teach art.  Or if it even should be "taught".  There are three camps usually in this discussion:

1. Art is when things look exactly like the teacher wants them to look.  The goal is to have the children learn how to follow directions and to make parents happy that their child is creating things and that the teacher is 'teaching".  The teacher cuts out all the needed pieces and shoes the children how to put those pieces down to create the desired end result.   Every art project looks the same when it is completed, just like the teachers. I personally call these "cookie cutter art" because they all look the same like cookies come off an assembly line all the same.  Personally there is very little children get out of this type of art.  There is a small place for this in the middle elementary grade levels where you are testing reading comprehension or listening skills but other then that they are nothing but time wasters.  I do not call these art.  They are crafts.  Crafts are where every project looks the same, art is unique and different.  The first creation is art, the copies are crafts.  This has no place in early childhood education in my opinion.  Occassionally I will be given a kit to make foam something or others and will help the children do it.  I tell the parents this is not art, this is my doing something and giving it to the children.  Because the children can not do it themselves usually.  I once had a boy who went to the public preschool for special education classes come home with this type of "art" - all nice glued perfectly when the child couldn't even hold a crayon - obviously there was NO learning going on, and he had nothing to do with the project at all.  It was purely a parent pleaser, and personally if I were the parent I would be the opposite of pleased.

2. Process art - This description is not mine - 

As you can see this is very free form.  Children are given supplies, they create.  I do let children use tape, glue, scissors, markers, crayons, etc. to do whatever they please during free play time.  Process art is all about letting the children discover what the materials can do and not interfering in any way, it is  art where the making of it is more important then the end product - the exploration, the freedom is what is essential.

3. Process art with a Product end -  There is a happy medium, it's not a hard thing to integrate -the children create unique things where they also learn skills and apply other subject area knowledge into their projects and have projects where the parents can recognize what is being taught.  This is the type of art I believe is best to do with preschoolers.  It allows for children to be creative, to do individual unique projects yet have something to take home that is worthy of being put on the fridge.  Pick a theme, any one, now pick something that has to do with that theme (fairy tales - sticks/straw/bricks, bean stalks/beans, crowns/jewels/swords) now pick an art material - paint, crayons, markers, glue/tape/staples, playdough - combine the two things in some manner, or just have them use any art material and then cut the end result into a theme based shape. Process art CAN be representative and still accomplish the goals of art. I was trained as an art teacher, there are reasons to do things that TEACH ART CONCEPTS and still are process art, you can have the end result match your theme, you can TEACH and do process art.   To teach them HOW to do a thing is just as important, no, MORE important then letting them just do whatever... in order to know how to go further with an art concept you need to be shown HOW to use that material. I teach when I do process art and it is STILL process art.  I also apply the lesson of the day to the art project.  When we learn about planets we may learn how to do balls out of playdough to be planets, and snakes out of playdough to be the rings on those planets.  When learning about flower parts we may use an actual flower as our paint brush.  Applying the theme into an art project allows all the subject areas to tie together.

How it works - In order to show how I take a lesson and make it into an art lesson I will show you projects done by the daycare children and I will describe how the process was done, what skills were taught and what lesson was reinforced. 

we were learning about outer space, we talked about how stars aren't really this shape but rather spheres like our sun.  That they were hot balls of gas, and since they were so far away we saw them as just points of light.  We sang Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, counted out stars and talked about how planets are spheres as well.  Then the children got to use small litle nails to push into the hole of the buttons and decorate the star or planet however they decided.  This worked on fine motor skills and while they were working we talked about the sizes of buttons they were using, the colors and when they were all done we counted how many buttons they had used.  Each child had a unique creation as you can see. 

This is crayon melting art. Each child picked out which crayons they wanted and which order to put them in.  After they had put them down in the order they wanted I hot glued them to the canvas.  then we used a hair dryer to melt the crayons.  While they were melting we talked about how the wax got hot and became a liquid.  When it got cold it became a solid again.  This was the xmas present for the parents.

The children painted paper plates that I had cut to be turkey shapes however they wanted to.  After they were done we added google eyes, wattles and beaks.  This day we had read turkey books, looked at pictures of real wild turkeys and learned some other facts about turkeys.

another turkey project we did that day - they painted a paper towel tube, I later cut it to look like a turkey.

we had been studying trees, to make these the children painted their arm and hand then put them onto the paper to be the trunk and branches.  Then they used different colored glues to glue down buttons.

We did these during our Halloween party, this was the first project we did with the nails and buttons and it is one they kept asking to do again which is why we did the stars and planets one.

We were talking about Halloween and how we go door to door saying trick or treat.  The kids were playing pretend trick or treating.  So I came up with this project - we talked about the shapes you see on houses - then I cut out those shapes and they created houses.  The love doing stickers too so I let them go wild with stickers too.   This was a group of 4 yr olds so I also was talking to them about realism - people have to walk on the ground, pumpkins don't just float in the air, bats and birds do go in the air.

We learned about plants, parts of a plant, read plant books, talked about seeds and leaves.  Then the children collected plants in the yard and we came inside and used them to paint with.  The next picture is using a huge leaf they found, I had them paint the leaf then we pressed a piece of paper onto the painted leaf.

I'll add more blog posts later featuring the art work the children create.  I try to do at least one project per day.

When the provider is sick

Posted by tarastoyland on April 2, 2015 at 10:45 AM Comments comments (0)

It's spring break week and I have been meaning to get so much done. I started out really great, well, kinda.  I had set up for a cleaning lady to come in and do some cleaning.  This was a first for me, never have had someone else do my cleaning and I am so glad I did.  She got tons done.  But only upstairs.  I ran a ton of errands and did straigtening and laundry that day.  But I was not at 100%.  I have a super bad cough that started last Thursday.

On Tuesday I went to the doctor and got some heavy duty cough syrup and an inhaler for the bronchitis.  I managed to get the stairs vacuumed and wash the daycare room floor.  It's THURSDAY already and that is about all that has been done.  I had such plans.  But my body is telling me to just rest.

When I was at the doctor she asked what happens when the daycare provider is sick.  I told her that luckily this week I was already scheduled off. 

But what does happen if I'm not scheduled off when I am sick?  Well, sometimes I have to close - when you are not able to leave the bathroom you can't really take care of little kids after all.  I had to close last year cause I sprained both my ankles really bad and had to have heavy duty pain killers to make it through those first few days.  And I closed for kidney stone surgery.   This school year though I have not closed once.  And I would not have closed for this illness either.

As a daycare provider out of my home I have a bit of an advantage - I can be lazy and have a TV day if I need, or just supervise the kids as they play if the group is a more mellow group.  During nap time if everyone sleeps I can rest on the couch.  I have my tea ready to make right here, and lots of water.  I don't take heavy duty cough syrup if kids are in attendance though because I do need to be alert.  As a general rule home daycare providers try not to close if at all possible because we know it's a hardship on a lot of different families.

I know of some providers who only took a weekend off after giving birth.  Others I know feel guilty over having to close even though they are having a major health crisis and they should go to the ER.  And I know of others who do end up closing and the daycare parents complain to them about it.  I, luckily, have not had that happen in a real long time.  

My true calling

Posted by tarastoyland on March 26, 2015 at 8:00 PM Comments comments (0)

December 1, 2011 originally published


This week has been a GREAT week with the daycare kids. On Wednesday I listened to the 16 month old have deep belly laughs as the 4 year olds danced for him. He tried to imitate their moves and soon we were all just laughing. The day was a perfect mix of group and individual activity. The kids improved their fine motor skills and creativity with an art project. It was too cold to go outside but we worked up a sweat using the parachute. We read stories together. Some kids built a huge wooden block castle while others played with the soft barn toy. There were the normal arguments, and a few bumps and falls, but the day sailed along. Everyone gobbled up lunch, which contained a perfect combination of grain, fruits, veggies, milk and protein. Then after a smooth transition of potty and books the kids were soon tucked in bed for nap time. And in no time at all all seven of them were in dream land.



It's days and weeks like this that make me happy in my career choice. There are the total opposite kinds of weeks sometimes. Kids can have their off times, and in this job it sometimes happens that every kid (and myself) have a crabby day and nothing goes right. But then there are days like today where we match lids to boxes then sort them into "cubes" and "cylinders" before we count and compare which group has the most. These days should be caught on film and documented, then wrapped in a bow so that when those crabby days happen we can pop in a DVD of a good day and get back on track.

Bucket list for a child under 24 months old

Posted by tarastoyland on March 22, 2015 at 9:20 AM Comments comments (0)

originally written April 2012

Below is my bucket list for a child under 24 months old. This was written out to the parents of Avery who had a terminal genetic disease and didn't  live to her second birthday. http://www.facebook.com/AverysBucketList They were asking for a bucket list of things for her to do while she is still alive. Lots of the things on the list were not aimed to an infant and toddler. Yes we may like to go white water rafting some day, but not when you are under 2 yrs old. So, I created a list for her that is more realistic and that SHE will enjoy.



*pet a cat, dog, horse, goat, hamster, bird, rabbit and as many other animals as you can

*splash in a puddle, a pond, a stream and a lake

*play in the rain, feel a nice warm rain on your face

*listen to the wind as you lay under a tree and watch the leaves

*paint with your hands and feet

*watch a sun rise in the morning, the sun set at night and the moon rise (a full moon)

*see the stars from somewhere there are no lights so you really SEE them

*collect worms

*watch a butterfly flutter, see if one can land on your hand

*pet a stingray, and a dolphin

*catch snowflakes on your tongue, make snow angels

*play in a ball pit

*color with a crayon, a marker, a pen, and a pencil

*eat chocolate, drink hot chocolate and eat as many foods as you can in that time period. ((If I knew I only had a few years to live I would try to not eat the same food twice. May not be possible for her though))

*listen to as many kinds of music as you can, classical, rock, raggea, jazz, African, etc.

*hear each instrument as an individual sound, then all together as a symphony

I work with children under 2 yrs old a lot, and as many of the 5 senses as you can stimulate the better experience they will have. So my list is geared towards what I wish every child under 2 gets to do.


Why I am glad I sent my kids to kindergaretn at 5

Posted by tarastoyland on March 22, 2015 at 8:55 AM Comments comments (0)

this was originally written July 2014

When I first started daycare in this house Elise was 4 months old. She couldn't sit up yet, let alone crawl, walk or talk. One of my first daycare girls was Kelsey who was 15 months old. She was talking, walking and doing toddler things. Five and a half years later Kelsey and Elise started kindergarten on the same day. Elise had just turned 5, that day, Kelsey was a month away from turning 6. Both started by the legal cut off start date for the district, but was Kelsey at the same level as Elise? Obviously not, she was 11 months older. So, should kids wait till they are closer to 6 yrs old or start when they are able to by age, most being 5 years old? This note is to examine that issue.



As they say, hindsight is 20/20.


I was reading some articles on why parents were going to "red shirt" their child by not sending the child who is 5 yrs old before the district guidelines to kindergarten. Since I have summer birthday kids who are now about to enter 7th and 10th grade I feel I can speak on this in the hindsight view. Tara was 5 years and 2.5 months old when she started kindergarten, Elise started kindergarten on her 5th birthday. Additionally I do home daycare so both of them had only ME as their first teacher. We did make sure to have them experience other adults in charge through library story time, swim lessons and other sports, but I was the primary teacher in their lives.


I must say that they both had the most amazingly fabulous kindergarten teacher, Miss Nowak. I think that was essential in their schooling going smoothly that first year. Neither of them had any anxiety over school, only excitement. Tara started with a speech problem not being able to say her /th/ or /y/ or r controlled vowels. Elise had lots of fevers and missed about 30 days of school each year up until 4th grade when she had kidney reflux surgery. They were average as first day of kindergarten kids, but very confident in themselves and in being away from home for school. Our kindergarten is a half day here so they still had lunch at home that year.



So, today I am reading articles about redshirting. I often read such things because although my kids are old I work with parents of preschoolers. Here are some reasons the parents gave to not send their child to kindergarten as a 5 yr old, and my hindsight view.


1. Wanting their child to be the oldest. My children are tiny, skinny, and short. Sorry kids, you know it's true. But they never suffered for being the last to grow tall, the last to develop. Yes it was hard when Tara was in 6th grade and only wearing a size 12.5 shoe and finding shoes that weren't Dora, sparkly or little kid looking was next to impossible. And it was irritating that both girls were told in 6th grade gym class they MUST have bras on even though they were not anywhere near needing them. But there were other girls that didn't need them yet either. The girls that had issues were those that started having to wear a bra in 4th grade, or those that started their period in grade school. Those kids were friends with my girls and hated being the mature ones. Next year Tara would have taken Driver's Ed, but instead she is going to a school that won't offer it and will be so academically challenging that she isn't going to even try to take it until after she is 16 anyway, driving is not something she wants to do yet just like half the kids her age.


2. Wanting to wait to start their formal education. As the person who taught my kids for preschool I knew my kids were ready academically for kindergarten. They knew all their letter names and sounds, they could count out objects, add and subtract, count by 2s, 5s and 10s, do patterns, and many other things. One of my daycare boys missed the cut off and spent an extra year of preschool with me, he was reading by Thanksgiving just like the kids that went to kindergarten. He's now about to enter 5th grade and doing math and reading at the 6th or 7th grade level and luckily is at a school that will let him do that, otherwise he would have been bored or had to skip a grade (which is harder to do then holding back a grade). Tara went to school with a set of twins that were literally hours younger then her. They struggled in school and repeated 3rd grade. It was their choice and they are about to enter high school confident and academically ready. It was no big deal for them to stay back that year, no one teased them, they made new friends easily and fit in fine. Being held back a year was easier then skipping ahead, we had to fight to get Tara into advanced classes and she was never "allowed" to be in the gifted program but is going to an elite high school this fall and is 2 yrs ahead in math. So, starting sooner or later can go either way but from what I've seen it's easier to repeat a year of school instead of skip ahead. I didn't want to hold my kids back. Oh, that boy who missed the cut off - the day he turned 5 he thought he would be allowed to start kindergarten even though it was a month into the school year, the poor boy was so upset that he wasn't allowed to start school with his friends who were only months older. I think this was harder on him then starting kindergarten early could ever have been.


3. I want my oldest child to stay close to her younger siblings. Really? Maybe it's cause my child went to afternoon kindergarten but it has not hurt their relationship at all. Elise napped when Tara went to school. There were some very cute photos of Elise waiting at the corner of the yard for her sister to get home from school, but it just made the bond between them stronger.


4. I want her to be a leader in school. My daughters have both been leaders, and some of the older kids in the class have not been. It has nothing to do with age, everything to do with personality.


5. Along the same lines as 2, I want my child to be able to enjoy childhood longer. My kids were lucky in that I do daycare I guess, but they played with toys until they were 11, their friends would come to our house to play cause we still had lots of toys. And as recently as last week they were playing on the swings out back.


6. I want her to be more emotionally mature. My girls were very emotionally mature, again, personality more then age.


7. (The parent) is just not ready. Who is schooling for? The parent or the child? As a parent there are many times that we must make a sacrifice in order for our children to get what they need. In the case of my kids this meant me letting go of them when they had just turned 5. As an early education expert I have looked at actual research, peer reviewed studies, and those say that starting them when they are legally able to (usually at 5 yrs old, it varies by state with when cut offs are) is the best option.



Now MY main reason for sending kids to school at the age they qualify is, as this article http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/25/opinion/sunday/dont-delay-your-kindergartners-start.html?_r=0

so clearly states - the one main way to increase academic success is by being IN school. I had a daycare boy who had a spring birthday who was very behind in skills. No matter how I tried this child would not understand and retain information. I encouraged his parents to send him to kindergarten on time, knowing full well that his new daycare would say the exact opposite. My main reason for saying he should go was that in a formal school setting he would get the help he needed from people trained in that area of education. Being in elementary school was the best thing that could happen to him, it would give him daily academic help in ways he needed. Another year of daycare, even good daycare, would not do what he needed. I have not researched this subject since 2004 when Tara was turning 5, so I revisited the studies to see if my earlier findings were still true, that the studies prove it's best to send them with their cut off age. It seems that the studies still support my view.




this article seems to indicate that poor families should hold their kids back, but for non poor families it doesn't matter http://www.rand.org/pubs/research_briefs/RB9082/index1.html




this study says that it's other factors instead of age that need to be considered, and that knosing the age of the child makes the teacher biased in expectations




another article, I found this one interesting because it follows kids that were born in 74. Page 161 in the report (it is not that long, just think it was in a journal that had it there in the magazine) shows the results. Basically saying that redshirted kids have MORE issues. However if kids were redshirted for them to "get more mature" it seems that this would mean that they did not need that year to get mature, they just were more prone to behavior issues. This article followed kids through college graduation and first years in the job market and surprised me when it said that younger students did better on test scores in high school. Page 171 states that there is no difference in economic status or gender of child either.




this article shows results of long term studies, and sorry, redshirting hurts kids in the long run



this article is much more current, 2008, and says any edge disappears by 8th grade http://www.news.illinois.edu/news/08/0818kindergarten.html




this article talks about a 1998 study, but it says there are mixed results





and here is a list of cut off dates by state that I thought was interesting http://users.stargate.net/~cokids/kindergarten_cut-off_dates.htm

and this one had a few different dates on it http://www.superpages.com/supertips/age-to-start-kindergarten-by-state.html



referenced links http://thehumbledhomemaker.com/2013/08/10-reasons-why-im-not-sending-my-5-year-old-to-kindergarten-why-im-redshirting-my-daughter.html


Outer Space Theme Activities

Posted by tarastoyland on March 19, 2015 at 3:35 PM Comments comments (0)

We had so much fun learning about outer space.  Here are some pictures from our unit.

Very blurry picture of the solar system mobile we made.  We talked about the size relationships of the planets and the sun, it was hard to imagine so we found some youtube videos that showed how big the sun is compared to our planet.

Sun painting

I found this idea on pinterest and LOVED it so much!!  The yellow ball is the sun, it lights up one side of the moon and the other side is dark.  The child puts their head  in the middle and turns to look at each moon and they can see the phase of the moon.  One issue I had during this unit was a book that I had bought from Scholastic that said the wrong information about why the moon has phases.  I can't believe that the book was allowed to be published with such wrong information.

I have a set of Toy Story aliens and the kids found lots of ways to play with them.

Playing toy story aliens version of kerplunk

We made moon dough and then the kids used the astronaut play set to pretend they were on the moon, we talked about the moon rover, how many people have landed on the moon and watched videos of the moon landing from 1969

Our model to show how the moon goes around the earth, and the earth goes around the sun

Home Daycare Benefits

Posted by tarastoyland on March 16, 2015 at 8:00 AM Comments comments (0)

I've been working with children professionally since 1987.  I started babysitting way before that.  Over the years I have worked as a nanny, in multiple corporate centers, as a babysitter, as a substitute teacher, a regular teacher, and aide in a classroom.  After I had my daughter, Tara, I went back to working in a daycare center.  While I was working there a co-worker was talking about doing daycare in her home.  I never had even considered that as an option.  A few months later I opened up my home daycare and have never regretted that decision.

I have found so many benefits for myself and the families I serve in the home daycare environment.  I'll list some of the family and child benefits first, then I'll list some of my personal benefits.

Families and Children Benefits

*The children have the same care giver from the time they arrive until the time they go home.  This means that one person knows everything that has gone on with that child during the day.  They know the mood they arrived in, the foods they ate, the things they learned, the friends they interacted with and how those interactions happened, how naps went and the mood they woke up in.

*The children have other children here who are older or younger.  This allows for the child to hear different language opportunities then if the children were all the same age.  It allows the older children to learn to help the little ones.  The older children get to practice compassion, they teach the younger children how to do things and they learn to monitor their own behaviors since the little ones learn from the older ones.  The younger children learn from the older children directly and indirectly.  One time I had a group of 5 kids that were potty training and one girl who had just turned a year old.  Because all the other kids were sitting on the potty she wanted to sit too.  By 14 months old she was going pee and poop on the potty on her own.  She could barely walk but she went to the bathroom door and knocked on it to let me know she had to go.  She couldn't talk yet but she would pull on her diaper to let me know she had to go potty.  The older children often teach the younger ones how to build with blocks or to count.

*The child is with me for years, sometimes from 6 weeks old until they go off to kindergarten.  This means I know what the child knows and needs to learn at all times.  I know the family situations, I know the stresses the child or parents are under.  I can tailor the day according to the needs of each child.  I know how they ate last week and last year.  I know if the child sleeps on their side or their tummy, if they like to cuddle with a lovie, if they wake up easy or hard.  Because they are with me for so many hours, so many years, I love the kids more deeply then I ever did as a center employee.

*The family saves money by using a home daycare over a center.  This does have a draw back in that if I am throwing up there is no daycare that day, but the overall savings usually negates that.

MY Benefits

*Commute of 16 stairs

*If I get barfed or peed on I just go upstairs and change my clothes.

*I get to pick the toys to be played with, the themes to do, the lessons I want to do, the set up of the room, the families that I enroll.

*When my kids were younger I got to spend all day with them and I was able to teach them all the skills they needed for school and know that they had mastered those skills.  I wasn't able to be lazy on parenting because I had the daycare kids that needed lessons and structure so I was forced to be a better parent.  My kids got to sleep in and had way more awesome toys then they would have had if I didn't do daycare.

*My dress code is whatever I choose.  I hated working at the few centers where dress clothes were required, it did not make any sense to me.

*I get to buy cool toys and not feel guilty.

There are lots more but those are the ones I came up with today.  

Outer Space Theme

Posted by tarastoyland on March 15, 2015 at 7:25 PM Comments comments (0)

I had so much fun getting ready for the Outer Space Theme!  I got the loft all spaceship looking by covering it in foil, putting up black garbage bags to make it more enclosed and dark and covering the things up there in foil too.  On the play kitchen I duct taped a light up ABC toy to be their control panels, put a circuit board inside the oven so they could "fix" the rocket and attached another circuit board to the outside.  I also hung LED light strips that changed colors.  The kids LOVED it!!