Monday, January 27, 2014

Sensory Bin and Story Time: Chinese New Year

River sensory bin

Chinese New Year set up
12 animals for the swimming race
Story time with the sensory bin

Sorry, we moved!
Please, visit the updated version here:

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

A Birch - Russian Soul (Winter Olympic Games)

I love a Russian birch

Winter Olympic Games are held in Russia. I hope, terrorism will not be an issue there! Meanwhile, we are getting ready - it's time to learn about Russia. Everybody knows about Matryoshka.  There is another, very special for Russian people, symbol: a birch tree.

Birch is often described as a beautiful Russian girl dressed in a traditional bright Russian sundress. Sometimes, the birch is a beautiful bride in a white wedding dress. The painting above is "Birch Grove", a romantic landscape painted in 1901 by Arkhip Kuindzhi.

"Birch Grove" by famous Ivan Shishkin. There are several types of birch trees that survive in US (their common enemy is insects). As you can see, the Russian birch has white bark with black stripes, and a wonderful crown of leaves. This makes birch woods look outstanding and breath taking. Maybe that's why a lot of Russian poets devoted their poems to birch.
A beautiful white birch tree is in a Russian soul, she is a part of a Russian soul.

 Play-doh tree craft

I drew a tree on white construction paper and glued it onto the piece from a box for durability. Camilla made "carrots" from the black play-doh and stuck them to the tree for stripes. She also made snow under the tree from white play-doh "carrots". The activity is great for fine motor skills!

Tree activities for toddlers

We talked a lot for these activities. About different lands that look and feel different than what we are used to here. About the different kinds of trees. We looked at the paintings and talked about birch. I used several trees to compare the color and the size.
We built our small world winter forest with several trees and animals, and a fur rug for a snow. Camilla immediately decided that she wanted to sit in the forest and read a book.
The oak tree has pockets for animals/acorns. With our oak, we reviewed parts of the tree and how trees are used by people and animals. The Christmas tree is a great printout from 3 Dinosaurs. Camilla is very much into Do-a-Dot activities now!
 We have also read a beautiful Russian poem. It's written by Alexander Prokofiev. The translation is mine (Hmmm, blogging is interesting - it makes you do all kinds of things :) ).

I love a Russian birch.
Sometimes she's light,
but at other times she's sad.
In the white sundress,
kerchiefs in her pockets,
with beautiful clasps
and green earrings.
I love her standing over the river
in her festive mantle.
Sometimes she is bright and exuberant;
sometimes she's sad and crying.
I love the Russian birch.
She's always with her girl​​friends
dancing in the spring
and kissing, as it happens.
She goes to where she'd want to
and sings at places nobody else does.
In the wind, she bows to her feet,
and bends, but does not break!

What are your favorite trees? Tree activities?

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Chinese Year of the Green Horse 2014

Chinese New Year 2014

It starts on January,31 and is celebrated for 2 weeks. This year it is a green horse which favors finances.
Happy New Year, my dear readers!
May you get rich and famous in 2014! 

Out of twelve animals (Rat, Cow, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Sheep, Monkey, Chicken, Dog, and Pig), our family's birth years are Sheep, Dog, Rat, and Rabbit. Yay, some of us are friends with a horse and will have a lucky year!

Green Horse Craft - easy and fun for my 2 year old to assemble.

1. The activity is designed for fine motor skills.
The body is a 3-inch piece of a left over tube from wrapping paper. It's thick, but I cut it easily with the knife. The 4 wholes for legs have the diameter of a drinking straw.
2. I drew the head free hand on a thick box-like cardstock, used the markers for the face, and goggle eyes. It has a slot to attach the head to the body. The legs are 4 pieces of straw to insert into the wholes without any glue.
3. The parts that make a horse a horse: a mane and a tail. I cut pieces of green wool and tied them in the middle with a piece of chenille stem. They are to insert into the premade wholes above eyes, along the neck, and at the end of the tube.

Invitation to play

First, we looked at our toy horse and discussed the horse's body parts.
Then we looked over the content of the tray and made our first horse together. Camilla is into beading now. So she loved the activity and made all the horses with no problem. Sorry, no pictures because I was finishing the manes while she worked.

Pretend Play: Horses in a stable

We used our stable from the Nativity scene. The horses went to the stable, slept, woke up, and ate some grass and hay. Then they got real happy and started galloping to the song.
The little horse's galloping, galloping
Down the country lane.
The little horse's galloping, galloping
Down the country lane.
The little horse is coming home
All tired out. (Down to sleep)
Wake up!