mud muffins from the outdoor kitchen

Oh, to bake in a muddy sandy outdoor kitchen.
Oh, to collect the sand,
bucket up the water,
sprinkle it all into a muffin pan,
smash it and stir it with a long blue spoon, and - don't forget - add a dash more water with a metal teapot...

Oh, to bake in a muddy sandy outdoor kitchen.
Come on in, order up a muffin and have a chat with this 4-year-old baker..there will likely be some magical ingredients in this clever recipe.

What are some of YOUR favorite tools to have available in your sand/mud area? 

three words: Uncover Their Story

I was inspired by Scott at Brick by Brick and his 'One Word: Listen' post this week.
I reflected back on my own post from last year with MY One Word: Brilliant post and do feel like I lived fairly brilliantly for 2012.
Uncovering Jack's story of his straw and stick flying aircraft.

My new word for 2013 is not one word but three...
My focus is to Uncover Their Story when working with children. 
To do this, it requires

I am fascinated by Process - and the Diversity of Process - by which individual children embrace their play.
I am fascinated by Use of Materials and how attaching, connecting, layering and technique come together to create some sort of collage or aircraft or kite.

I am fascinated by the life of children.
I am eager to Uncover Their Story and share those stories with you.

Do YOU have a word for 2013?

complex materials prompt inventive design

I am thrilled to write my first 2013 post for Zella. Bring on the New Year and new stories about children and their learning processes.

I have been thinking about the complexity of play and the importance of offering diverse materials for construction. Block play combined with pieces that roll or tilt or stack increase children's ways of thinking about balance, symmetry or design. 
Wow. Using brick blocks, window blocks, kapla block, and carefully placed blue rolling balls on upper tiers. Wow.
Observing the choices of these two children as they built this raised tower was fascinating.
Notice the exact symmetry of placed colored brick blocks, the equally symmetrical placement of window blocks in rectangular and triangle shapes, and the criss-cross kapla blocks placed on top. Amazing. 
Then, add carefully balanced blue and red rolling balls to the tower. Each ball was set slowly, made sure it didn't roll, then the hand let go and went to get another ball. 
This kind of work is no accident.

What kind of materials do you offer to prompt inventive construction and a unique kind of small motor work? 

 Happy New Year and Happy Building with Complex Materials.