Indoor Camping

The weather has been horrible here so we decided to start our camping season indoors.

Indoor camping

Smores were prepped with chocolate covered biscuits and leftover peeps.

Indoor camping

30 seconds later the peeps were giant! This caused lots of excitement.

Indoor camping

We pretended to roast our marshmallows and ate our smores.

Indoor camping

The fire was made from blocks and a flashlight. These blocks would give even more light:

Junior Rainbow Blocks

The teepee was set up with sleeping bags inside.

Indoor camping

The flowers hunkered down for the night, after a story around the campfire.

Indoor camping

How do you make your indoor camping experiences fun?

Arctic Play with Bubber

Between working for Quality Classrooms and studying for my Masters in Education the blog posts have become fewer. The flowers; Daisy and Rose went into full time daycare for the first time last September. As a result, opportunities to schedule structured activities have slipped. I need a reminder… mama, stop and play!

Last night I set up an play invitation, using

The flowers were hopping up and down with excitement as I set up the tray, requesting to play.

Arctic-Play-with-BubberAnd they got straight into serious play!


Daisy made a den for the wolves and Rose’s animals began to fight and scold each other, the whale hit the rabbit with its tail.

A great conversation started on who ate who, and we were able to discuss how some animals are eaten by humans and people living in the Arctic often use the skin of the animals for clothing and shoes as well as other parts of the animal. I introduced the terms herbivore, carnivore and Inuit.

We also talked about how the animals are built to live in such a cold climate with warm fur, sometimes even on their feet.

Detail-on-figuresThe detail on the figures is wonderful. Here the people are making their way back to their igloo (scale doesn’t seem to be an issue when you are 3 and 6).

Snow-wonderlandThe wolves stuck together during play. Daisy declared they were mama and baby.

Wolf-denThe wolf den.

Hiding-bunnyCan you spot the bunny Rose put to sleep?

Putting-the-animals-to-sleeAs the play was winding up the girls put all the animals to sleep. For Daisy this meant laying them on their side. For Rose it involved covering them with Bubber.

And the light on the light table was turned out.

A much more relaxed mama was able to go put her flowers to bed and work on an assignment!

Fun with Family Counters

These All About Me Family Counters are one of the favourite things to play with at the moment.

Fun with Family Counters

I am not sure if it is the colour, the quality or the sheer amount of people that has the appeal but something works!

Fun with Family Counters

Daisy enjoyed organising them into parties. Here is a circle of friends.

She made patterns and asked Rose, “What comes next?”.

These counters are designed for making your family, patterning, sorting and counting but in our house everything is used for dramatic play.

Fun with Family Counters

With a little balancing, baby can sit on mama or papa’s hip.

Fun with Family Counters

Yet another of the girls parties. Rose likes to grab a few people, have conversations and move them about the house.

Yes they do end up everywhere.

Fun with Family Counters

They will be venturing outside to play in the garden soon. We will keep you posted as to what they get up to.

Number Fun Ducks and Water Play

With there not being a chance of getting a pool outside for months, we have been enjoying water play inside, in other ways.

Number Fun ducks

These include learning to dry non breakable dishes, playing in the bath and sensory water tub play using:

Water has such a wonderful, calming affect on Rose in particular. She is 2 1/2 and often struggles with temper and sensory overload. Water provides a break for her. She can focus on the feeling of water running through her fingers, play with the effects water has on objects and enjoy listening to the sounds made by moving water. The conversations that come from water play are great!


Here she is organsing her ‘ducks in a row’ and talking to them. Counting the dots on the duck’s back helps her remember number order and associate oral numbers with physical counts. The number figure on the bottom is more useful for Daisy who is currently working on number formation.

Ideas for Setting up Water Play

Memory Match Clams

  • Sort objects in water by colour, shape, size, weight etc.
  • Investigate which container holds more
  • Go fishing

  • Give a doll a bath

Ocean Miniature Animal Tube


Whatever you are doing at the water centre have fun and enjoy the conversations!



Storytelling puppets

Rose is at that great age where she is just beginning to tell stories. Her confidence is growing as she reads more books, telling the story with the help of pictures. The words may not match but she is so proud to be able to interact with a book in such a way.

Using the pictures as prompts encourages her to tell her the story with more detail. Using concrete things she can manipulate encourages even more interaction.

I modeled telling the story of Goldilocks and the 3 Bears using a Reversible Storytelling Puppet. Goldilocks is visible and then if you turn the puppets upside down you have Papa Bears on one side and Mama and baby bear on the other. It is cute and Rose is now able to tell the story herself. Having baby bear come out of his mama’s apron adds to the story.

She particularly enjoyed flipping the puppet over and saying “Look, bears!” and “Look, Goldilocks!”

Reversible Storytelling puppets are also available for Little Red Riding Hood and The Three Little Pigs.

Goldilocks and the 3 Bears

Little Red Riding Hood

3 Little Pigs

I have tried photographs and flannel board as well as the interactive whiteboard but nothing beats a stuffie they can cuddle too! What do you use to bring your stories to life?

Alphabet Soup

We have some lovely letters for letter and word exploration. As the girls were playing in their kitchen a while ago, I gathered them up. I also had a big black pot, perfect for soup.

Daisy began to put the letters into the pot. The magnetic teaching tiles stuck to the inside and outside of the enamel pot. Daisy immediately began making words. I supported her word making when asked.

She added her wooden letters and letters stones, enjoying the ‘plonk’ and ‘thud’ they made in the pot.

Next, it was off on an ingredient hunt… no she did not add ice-cream. She did add carrots and cucumber however!

Finally, to mix it all up, Daisy borrowed a big wooden spoon.

Yes, you can see some odd Halloween decorations in the background. We did this a while ago and I forgot to post it. A witches hat was handy and the alphabet soup was suddenly a potion which needed chanting and singing to accompany it. The only thing that came to my mind was Shakespeare; “Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn, and caldron bubble.” Daisy came up with alternatives which included a mishmash of what she was hearing from books at home and daycare.

Alphabet soup served up for Rose, Daisy and I. Yum!

And Miss Mischief enjoyed helping with the cooking.

The Meaning of Play

I attended a presentation at the weekend held by Winnipeg Attachment Minded Families . I have to admit I was a little nervous as I would not consider myself an attachment parent. I have an aversion to labels. I am any manner of parent… depending on my lovely daughter’s moods! Both are fiercely independent hence my reluctance to use the attachment parenting label. However on a bright spring Saturday morning my fears were calmed by a wonderful presentation by Pamela Whyte on the Meaning of Play. Pamela works exclusively from the approach developed by Dr. Gordon Neufeld.

I came to understand that attachment is not just baby wearing and helicopter parenting. It involves developing a secure and healthy relationship with your child. Pamela described attachment as building that strong connection to encourage children towards independence. They can then go out into the world and still retain their deep connection to you. I know my girls will travel and I will encourage them to explore the world but no matter how far away they are, I hope to always feel they are close.

I will attempt to give you the main gist of the presentation which turned out to be quite an undertaking. Pamela managed to convey so much information in less than three hours. I have struggled to do her justice. I will use bullets to try to highlight the main concepts I have taken away from this presentation.

  • We have a culture which feels determined to stamp out play. We are often obsessed with outcomes and readiness for Kindergarten forgetting that young children need to play (being a teacher; I have this issue).
  • Play dates back to our beginnings, all  (mammals play) and has a long and beautiful history. I think of parlor games and singing and all those wonderful things we used to do to entertain ourselves before TV, computers and social media invaded our lives. As adults we have often forgotten how to play, with work influencing more and more of our lives.
  • Play v Work?
  • Play does not have outcomes. Play is free of consequences. A wonderful example which Pamela used is the game of marbles. When you play for ‘funsies’ you are playing. When you play for ‘keepsies’ it changes the dynamic of the play. There is a chance you could lose your marbles!
  • Play is outside of reality. Life can be practiced, children can role play ‘being in charge’ without consequences or risk. Play is expressive and about exploration. Plato described it as a ‘leap’ and when watching my cats and dogs in particular I can see that leap in the physical sense.
  • Play is freedom. Pamela discussed a period of time when she was homeschooling her young children. She was embracing Waldorf theories and building a beautiful natural wooden play and learning space. Lego did not fit into this ideal but her son had a natural engineering bent, and needed more materials to work with. Pamela struggled with her educational decisions (as many of us educators and parents do) and decided a place for Lego had to be found in her family’s home. Creative outlets through interests, allow expression of the self. The more we get to express ourselves the more space we have for creating.
  • Learning for learning sake is play. The difference in learning because I want to and because I have to for a course or assignment, is clear to me. The former is fun, the latter is a chore.
  • Work has outcomes and objectives. Work has pressure and expectations. Screen time displaces play time. While tech. is an inevitable part of our lives don’t let it take over.
  •  To become capable of “work” a child must have a working pre-frontal cortex: they must be able to experience more than one conflicting thought or feeling simultaneously. Young children are not wired up to do this, and some children take longer than others to develop this capacity. An example is giving a child a choice. Often children cannot choose between two concepts. We often expect too much at too young an age.
  • Are we giving our children and students enough play time? In an ideal world an average 2 year old may be able to and want to play alone for 5 minutes. Many children cannot do this because they do not have not suck deeply enough into attachment.
  • Everything in the early years can be achieved through play. Pamela gave the example of a study which showed Kindergarten play based curriculum, results in children performing better than the academic based children, by grade four
  • Protect play – we need it and our children and students need it!

If you would like to contact Pamela please see her website or new facebook page for further information.

We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.” George Bernard Shaw