Buffalove Challenge: Week 2, Discovery Days!

Throughout This is Where You Belong, Melody Warnick describes ways to become part of a community rather than just a person residing at an address in a particular city. One of the few community-based things Nathanael and I have become a part of in our town is The Family Room. It’s a play center for children ages 0-5 hosted in two nearby community centers, and it’s a great way to meet other parents of little kids. The Family Room also holds several classes and programs for toddlers and preschoolers throughout the year. One such program is called “Discovery Days,” and prior to our Buffalove Challenge, we had never enrolled Ella in any of these days. This session, we decided to go ahead and sign up for all of them that we could make (which is all but one).

You could say this was sort of a cop-out of our challenge since The Family Room is not new territory to us. But the point of the Buffalove Challenge is to be more connected to where we live. What better way to do that than to further plug in to something we have already enjoyed from a limited amount of exposure?

Discovery Days kicked off with an adorable pajama party. Between three classrooms at the community center, pajama-clad young’ns could:

  • Have a bedtime snack by stringing O-shaped cereals onto a string and then eating them (there was even a gluten free option!). I had to severely limit our time at this table and make a cereal necklace for Ella to take with her because she thought the idea was just to eat as much cereal as possible by the fistful. It was the kid’s first time having Fruit Loops. Let’s just say she was pretty into this station.
  • Count sheep! The kids could count out cotton balls onto corresponding laminated, numbered pictures of sheep. Ella counts “One, three, four, one, three, four, eight, nine!”
  • Make a teddy bear! Pre-cut bear face parts and paws were ready to glue onto brown bags that the kids stuffed with wadded paper.
  • Read a bedtime-themed story on a bean bag chair in the “book nook.”
  • Build a tent out of blankets and Imagination Playground blocks.
  • Play in the bubble bath: a water table with bath toys, dolls, and bubbly water inside! Ella LOVES the bath. She only discovered this station after the event had technically ended, and she played in it until the table was being emptied as part of the clean-up.
  • Jump on the bed! One room was solely dedicated to a small bounce house with balls in it. Ella spent the first half of our time here.

At the end of the hour that this event lasted, all the kids gathered on the rug of the “book nook” for a group bedtime story: How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight? Then we sang a couple of lullabies together, led by Miss Kristen (the director of The Family Room; she’s awesome!) and Mr. Matt (this was the first we met him; a young musician with a big beard that made Ella too scared to be in the same room as him until the very end when he played the guitar for the singalong. Guitar-playing makes scary people ok in Ella’s book).

All in all it was a SUPER cute event, and we had so much fun!

We’ve been to one more Discovery Day so far, and this time I remembered to take pictures! This one was called “Little Engineers” and featured lots of math, science, and art activities under the pavilion at the park.

Ella made “moon sand” (a moldable mixture of corn starch, brown sugar, oil, and food coloring) which she then smashed and cut and rolled using Play-Doh tools; painted a paper plate by moving a magnetic wand underneath the plate with a magnetic ball on top of the plate and its puddle of milk, thus spreading the paint around in colorful swirls; watercolor painted a flower made of coffee filters and a straw by dripping paint out of a medicine dropper (some serious fine motor skills put to work on this one!); matched magnetic shapes; built a tower out of giant Legos; and spelled her name with Duplo blocks that had the alphabet taped to them. Other activities that she could have done but didn’t because she wanted to hurry and get to the playground were mostly construction related. We just never made it to the construction end of the pavilion by the time she couldn’t resist the slides anymore! The only one we didn’t do that I recall is building structures out of marshmallows and popsicle sticks. Other parents who were there, comment and help me out! What activities am I missing?

“Ella, hold the flower you painted and smile so I can take your picture!” She takes the flower, I pick up my phone to take a picture, she’s gone, shouting, “Playground!!!” and giggling as she scampers away. K, I guess we’re done here at the pavilion :o)

In the coming weeks we’re looking forward to Discovery Days titled “Fiesta Finger Foods” in celebration of Cinco de Mayo and featuring “cooking” activities provided by Tastefully Simple, “Kidding Around Yoga,” and “Under the Big Top.” Ella asks to go to The Family Room at least four times per day, probably more now that we’ve been going to these extra fun Discovery Days. I’m so glad I learned about this awesome program that our town has to offer through its community centers last year! Thanks Brittany and Sarah for telling me about it!

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