I packed up my kiddos and away we went for a long needed vacation. Ten days of fishing, swimming, boating, campfires, cards and reading was AMAZING. I knew my kids were enjoy every moment when my daughter woke up about 4 days into our stay and stated, “Mommy are we STILL at the cottage? I love it here!”. Sometimes living simply comes so easy, like on a holiday. Most of the time, however, it takes work.

Just before my family went on vacation, I worked at a personal goal: how to create an entire day of simple living practices in the daycare setting.  This seems easy enough, given that majority of teacher’s practice simple living techniques in the classroom on a regular basis. (re-using materials, found objects, recycling projects, child centered approaches) However  my goal was to create a non-themed experience; or better said; to use ideas the kids can bring home & replicate with their families. What I came up with was fondly referred to by the turtles as “messy day”.

Daycare Tip #1: In lieu of the days events to come, I forwarned the families enrolled about “messy day”. I did this not only to ensure they send extra clothing, but so they could also discuss the events with their kiddos. Sometimes kids can be hesitant about becoming involved in a messy activity. If a parent has a positive conversation about it, this can encourage the child to be more exploratory.

First activity of “messy day”: Pancakes for breakfast. Pancakes are not messy in and of themselves, but add toddlers & preschoolers to the “mix” [pun intended] and it becomes a big old fun mess.


Second activity of “messy day”: Water Play. What better way to “clean” off pancake batter & sticky hands then a big tub of warm soapy water, towels, and kitchen utensils. [FYI…water play for me is one of my number one re-direct activities…if I am having a rough day with my daycare kiddos (or my own children) I break out the water and go to town..it seems to create an instant calm focus for kids, and expels some of the more intense energy].

Third activity of “messy day”: Body Painting. I really wanted the kids to get fully into the painting process, and experience the paint with their entire bodies focusing on texture of the paint and the movements that they can create. So naturally, this was an outdoor activity. We used larger paper (Originally I intended to use butcher paper, but ran out), and placed it on our driveway. Each child was given their own plate of paint to work with two color palate, and plenty of room! At first I intended for the experience to be a clothes-on scenario. But I soon realized this inhibited some of the more tactile sensitive kids, so we switched it to a “swimsuit” activity. (all except my daughter who’s suit was packed for vacation) Once the switch occurred, well…a picture is a thousand words.

Fourth activity of “messy day”: Swimming Obviously not a messy activity, but after all the mornings messes, it was a nice shift into cleanliness, and really fun! It also calmed the kiddos and happened right before lunch & nap time, ergo a great transition activity…who knew?