There are some challenges to including nature in a room that primarily caters to the toddler set. Since our young friends tend to put things in their mouths, we have to be ever vigilant about choking hazards. But, it is really important to include nature objects in our daycare spaces, especially when our outside time is somewhat limited with the extreme weather conditions we experience here in Eastern Ontario during the winter months. Most of the year, we are very lucky to be able to enjoy our natural setting daily, which not only features many trees and wild flowers, it also welcomes an abundance of birds, rabbits, chipmunks, bugs and snakes, and the occasional deer, and porcupine too. To encourage an appreciation for nature, as well as develop awareness and vocabulary, we have recently added some glass bowls filled with natural items. These are out of reach of the tots due to the fact that the bowls are glass, and the objects are choking hazards, but they are visible to the children from the floor, and they can have an up close view while being held by an adult. We are also allowing closely supervised opportunities to handle some of the materials. We will be changing the objects over time, but right now they make a very pretty natural display and point of interest!
This past week has been particularly bitter with extreme cold temperatures, and as a result we were unable to take the tiny tots outside this past week. I have checked the forecast for next week, and it will be warmer, so I am looking forward to taking the children outside again! A few tiny tots love the outside all year round, but many do not love the cold, ice and snow. It is a challenge to find things to do outside to engage them because their mobility is pretty limited. One of the things I like to do is get them moving without them really realizing that they are moving – we quite often blow bubbles in winter - a great distraction from all the things they do not love about being outside right now. I prepared a surprise for the children for next week – some frozen coloured ice blocks. They look pretty interesting, and I hope that it will draw them out into the space to explore and experiment. They are made with water and food colouring in one litre milk or cream cartons. If I did it again I would use smaller containers, or not fill the one litre containers up, as the blocks are considerably heavier than I was anticipating – which could be a challenge for the group. On the other hand the size means they will probably last a little longer if we get some thawing. I’m looking forward to seeing what the tiny tots will teach me about frozen blocks of ice!