Activity/Photo of the Day Feed

Epcot International ๐ŸŒธFlower & Garden Festival

Spring is celebrated in Epcot with brilliant blooms, vibrant gardens, flower towers, wildlife habitats, walkways and interactive playgrounds.

DSC_0003The park boasts with more than 70 world-renowned Disney-themed topiaries.
DSC_0003
DSC_0003

DSC_0003

DSC_0089
DSC_0076 Kids smelling flowers closer
DSC_0221
DSC_0187

DSC_0230 Adrian Purple flowers
DSC_0187

DSC_0221

DSC_0221
DSC_0221Interactive playgrounds are build just for this event.
DSC_0221
DSC_0221Tomatoes.
DSC_0221Vertical Gardens.
DSC_0221
DSC_0221
DSC_0221

DSC_0115
I had never seen such a breathtaking display of flowers and gardens. This was our most favorite time of the year to visit Epcot!


Mighty Machines (Big Book of Big Machines)

Adrian loves transportation - Big Mighty machines in particular! He is in awe every time he reads about them or even better - sees them in action!

DSC_0072

Do you need to dig a big hole in the ground or a long ditch? Then you need a power shovel, which is like a huge scoop -"bucket" with a long handle, that sits on a crawler. Miners use power shovels to dig up coal, and almost every building site would have power shovel excavator. A driver sits in a cab on a rotating platform known as the "house", and pushes and pulls levers to work the shovel.

DSC_0092After witnessing the construction site, Adrian was obsessed with building site machines and anything that is big and powerful. The Usborne Big Book of Big Machines (buy here) features some of the world's biggest machines found on building sites, farms, airports and dockyards. 

DSC_0088

Constructed of thick, sturdy pages, this book has accurate yet simple bright illustrations with the names of machines, their functions and some of their key parts. Sensible groupings include "Farm Machines", "Flying Machines", "Road Machines", "Building Site Machines" and "Dockside Machines", as well as a mining machine, an excavator and a page of 'Biggest, longest, fastest...". The recommended age is 4+ but this book captivates my three year old who loves the content and colorful bright illustrations - some of which unfold four-page wide. He also loves learning the names of some less commonly seen machines while having fun acting out some of the machines' functions.

DSC_0053

Do you want to make a road or build a house? Then you need a bulldozer to get the ground ready. A bulldozer is a tractor with a big super-strong metal blade in the front that goes up and down. Most bulldozers are crawler tractors. Bulldozer can knock down bushes and small trees, and it can also push piles of dirt and make the ground smooth.   

DSC_0085

DSC_0053

A road roller is used to compact soil, gravel, concrete, or asphalt in the construction of roads and foundations. Rollers are used also at landfills or in agriculture.

IMG_4955
DSC_0088Building site machines. 

DSC_0053This excavator has crawler tracks to help it move over bumpy ground. The bucket has sharp metal teeth which cut through earth. Excavators are also called diggersmechanical shovels, or 360-degree excavators (tracked excavators are sometimes called "trackhoes"). 

Adrian was so excited to witness an excavator in action up close! 
IMG_4955

DSC_0085Farm Machines.
DSC_0085

For the biggest of machines, like the biggest aircraft here, the book opens up two giant foldout pages. 

The power and size of Mighty Machines is so impressive for a little mind! And since we like putting theory into practice, we could not think of a better way for Adrian to relate to all these big machines than by seeing them first-hand - a truly unforgettable experience!


Trees blooming on the first day of February!

Blooming tress while snow is on the ground? Spring can not be that early! Groundhog better not see its shadow tomorrow. We just had snow, and while taking a nature walk, we saw buds thickening, little yellow flowerets emerging, trees blooming! How is it possible? We are in the Northern Hemisphere, and we do not see the first blooms until late March, early April. We usually head down to Washington DC for a Cherry Blossom Festival because by us, there is usually nothing blooming at that time. We really did not expect to see blooming trees that early! No wonder Chinese New Year holiday, though in a winter, is called a "Spring Festival" because the "Start of Spring" (4โ€“18 February) is the first of the terms in the traditional solar calendar (read a post here).

DSC_0001

DSC_0003-2

DSC_0001
DSC_0001
DSC_0001

At the same time ... 

DSC_0043
DSC_0041-001Have you seen blooming trees๐ŸŒธ and snowโ„๏ธ๏ธ on the ground at the same time? This is the first time we are seeing such a dichotomy in nature!


Exploring Winter Nature with your Child

One of the central tenants of Montessori philosophy is the connection of children with nature. Maria Montessori placed a great emphasis on nature and nature education.

"Children are inherently connected to nature and fascinated by living things; there is a significant body of research discussing the benefits of children interacting with nature on a regular basis. Due to a variety of factors, including increased academic pressures in schools, over-scheduling of extracurricular activities, increased reliance on technology for entertainment, and fear of children being left alone outdoors, children are spending more time indoors than ever before in our history. Connection to nature and inspiring wonder are an integral part of the Montessori Philosophy and Method. The Montessori Method also stresses that immersion in nature is imperative for proper physical and psychological development. ...The research suggests that increasing childrenโ€™s interactions with nature will influence environmentally responsible lifestyles and support childrenโ€™s development as young naturalists." Connecting Children to Nature in a Montessori Primary Environment, by M.H. Russell.

DSC_0300

I grew up in an area where snow covered the ground for straight three months during the winter, and despite cold temperatures (well, if it was too cold (-30C) I would stay indoors, ) I learnt to appreciate snow and outdoor winter play immensely. During the winter months, the majority of my leisure time, I had spent sliding down the hills, making snowmen, and cross-country skiing with my grand-father. I came to love the snow sincerely, and I have passed on my passion for snow to my children.

DSC_0249

It can be challenging in the winter to encourage children to go outside and enjoy nature, when the weather is cold, when there are lots of layers to be put on, and when there is no purposeful activity. During snow, however, my children are always eager to go outside. Snow opens up endless possibilities of children-led play. They enjoy making snow-angels, building a snowman, playing snowball fights, and simply running after each other and throwing themselves in snow. 

DSC_0201

DSC_0347-2Besides being fun, it is great physical exercise as well!

DSC_0177
 Children-led play is a wonderful way to allow children to create, choose and follow their outdoor adventures in nature, while discovering and satisfying their curiosity. Below are some fun educational outdoor activities, through which the child will learn to appreciate nature and make observations during this special and magical time of the year.

DSC_0179Encourage your child to examine snowflakes up close. (Read a post here.)

DSC_0152Draw on a snow with a stick.

DSC_0211Create a pattern or wtire your name with sticks, rocks, and other objects found in nature. (Read here.)

DSC_0280Encourage practical life activities, such as helping to shovel snow, or clear up the path.

DSC_0255Make a snow-shower by standing under branches covered with snow and shaking them.

DSC_0191Make a Snow Volcano! (Read post here.)

Deer tracks in real snow- doubleLearn to identify animals by footprints on snow. (Read a post on it here.)

DSC_0205Set up a bird-feeder and observe which birds come to feed. 


DSC_0300Go on a winter-themed nature walk. (You can also try a nature scavenger hunt.)
DSC_0300All of the sudden, we heard, and then saw countless geese up in the sky. We knew there had to be a body of water nearby.
DSC_0300Surely, we found a lake nearby, and we could not believe how many geese had just arrived!
DSC_0300Geese were making so much noise! But interestingly, when they saw us approach, they stopped momentarily. 

DSC_0300

DSC_0300

DSC_0300

โ€œIt is necessary for his psychical development to place the soul of the child in contact with creation, in order that he may lay up for himself treasure from the directly educating forces of living nature.โ€ Maria Montessori