We started our New Year with a little three kings celebration and the traditional Italian and Eastern European story of Babushka, or Strega Nona. The children enjoyed making crowns in the traditional colors of red, green, or blue. Our circle time had the children galloping on horses and sweeping like Babushka. For children at this age, the image of strong kings riding on horses holds special appeal, and is also an aid to fostering pretend play with noble characters in mind. Later in the week, I heard many of the children pretending to be a king, and riding off on a horse. The story of Babushka is of an old woman who swept and swept all day. When three strange kings all knock on her door in turn, she continues sweeping. When she changes her mind and decides to follow them on their journey, she finds their footsteps are missing and she must search for a newborn king. She carries toys and cookies, and gives them to each child along the way. In many countries, on January 6, children receive gifts in their shoes from Babushka or Strega Nona.
When the children returned from winter break, we worked on stringing raisins, Cheerio's, popcorn and peanuts onto some string to make a garland for our now un-decorated Christmas tree for and birds and squirrels to nibble. The old Christmas Tree is outside of our nursery window so that we can watch to see if any come to nibble our garland. We'll be making some more edible treats soon for our little friends. On our make-up day, we also started working on using scissors to cut strips of paper into little squares. This is a Montessori exercise that helps children work on the tricky practice of both closing AND opening scissors.
As is often the case in winter, we had cold rainy days, very cold and icy days, and some cold sunny days. We made use of the rain pants on all days. The children enjoyed riding a "dragon" made of the outdoor building blocks, and later used the blocks to make a rocket ship and space station. Hammers came out for ice scavenger hunts. Children loved finding the ice and tapping away at it, and even discovered some "sand ice" in the sand box! Some children discovered that they've now grown strong enough to climb the steep banks of the dry creek bed in the woods. The children also discovered a "helping stick" that they use to give their friends something to grab onto and be pulled up when they are climbing.