Outdoor play should happen every day. I love being outdoors and am a big fan of the multi-sensory, lesson filled world. Nature is the best classroom! Some fun outdoor activities I facilitate are leaf gathering/sorting, bird/bug identification, scavenger hunts, and puddle jumping.
I am a very active person and like to share this with my charges, whether that be daily strolls with an infant in a carrier or stroller, or daily walks/runs with a toddler-school age child. Rainy days are ripe for dance parties and puddle jumping! We also enjoy doing some basic yoga poses. Working on gross motor skills like hopping, jumping, skipping, kicking, and throwing are always fun as well, and, while I may not be the sportiest person in the world, I enjoy practicing basic sports skills with children old enough for such play.
Reading The Little Engine that Could, while holding our engines. ;)
Being quite the bookworm myself, I take a lot of pleasure in reading to my charges of all ages, and helping instill a love of reading. I bring a lot of books from my own extensive “home library” and also love bringing children to story times and just to choose books at the library. I have a card for both Cobb County and Smyrna City. I rotate books by season/holiday, and also love to take cues from children's' interests in book choices. My primary focus is to portray and excite interest in reading, but I also work on reading skills through read alouds by pointing to words and having children point out/identify letters/words, as developmentally appropriate. I work on phonics from a young age as well, and have moved into teaching sight words as well, to my preschool age charges, who are becoming pretty good little readers!
I love to bake and cook with children, and this is one of my favorite rainy day activities. Safety is always front and foremost, but even young toddlers enjoy helping dump ingredients in, and, as they grow, so does the activity, as I can introduce counting, sequencing, and science. For picky eaters, having them help to make a meal can be a great way to encourage them to eat new things as well. Also, play-dough, be it salt based or edible, is such a fun activity which allows even more multi-sensory exploration and introduces an art element!
While I mainly allow children free play, I do like to throw in planned activities from time to time, sometimes even a theme day. Planned activities range from making play-dough, to going on a scavenger hunt, to making fruit and vegetable stamps. Theme days usually are planned based on individual interests. In my last position we had an occurring theme day: camping! We made up a “campfire” from re-purposed packing paper (logs) and construction paper flames, hauled play tents out into the yard (or set up inside on a rainy day), and I made up hollow “marshmallow” and “hot dogs” for the boys to stick onto roasting sticks (fine motor skills!) that they searched for themselves (great opportunity to talk about designations like long/short, thick/thin, many/few). After the “roasting” was done, we read books about camping around our “campfire”
Artistic expression comes pretty natural to most children, so I consider my main responsibility to be providing ample, diverse materials for them to explore. Crayons, markers, chalk, glue, finger paints, watercolors, play-dough, glitter, even mud are all great art materials in my view point, and even better when we can make them ourselves. One of my favorite painting activities (a big hit with the kids) is shaving cream or whipped cream painting, which can be done in a high chair or bath tub, using either paint or food coloring as the “dye” for the white “paint.” Done in the bath, it's a pretty much no-mess, inside friendly painting activity!
I love playdates! Meeting up with neighborhood moms and nannies for playdates has been the highlight of many a week for my charges and I. As a member of Metro Atlanta Nannies, I have access to a fantastic group of professional nannies who host and attend playdates, which is a great opportunity for children to interact with children of various ages and to meet new folks.
I love to facilitate outside lessons for the children I care for. I have done music classes, story times, Little Gym, swim lessons, and ½ day preschool. I'm not a big believer in an overstuffed schedule, as I see free-play as important for development, but I also see a lot of value in outside lessons as a good way to expose children to working with others, sharing, and cooperating as part of a group.
Academics are important to me. While I don't think that this should be overdone with young children, pre-school age children (usually about 3 or so) often enjoy having a “circle time” of sorts to do some academic work. I student taught in a Kindergarten class and took a lot from that to use in creating my own evolving “circle time” to teach days of the week, months of the year, the date, address, phone number, numbers/counting, letters/phonics, and coin recognition and facts. I start out very basic, and move up in difficulty, staying in tune with my charges to make sure that we are moving at a good pace for them.