Monday, October 21, 2013

the nature and science table

The preschool class I teach is fairly new to the school I teach in. Our children are three-going-on-four, many of them are new threes and school is a new experience for them. Along with the usual preschool suspects of creamy tempera paint, waxy crayons, and colorful blocks, we like to bring in new objects from home and nature to share with the children.

Our nature table began as a mish-mash of wooden boxes from the thrift store, sea-shells scavenged from our shelves, and rocks selected from our gardens. I purchased the magnifying glasses from a dollar store hoping their sturdiness would withstand the wild abandon of a three or four-year old at play. So good.

As the children move through the various classes held in our room over the course of a week, we teachers gather to brainstorm on new ways to engage the children and to talk about what their interests are. The room is shared between myself, and two other teachers, none of us actually working with the other so our small moments are greedily grabbed and gabbed at whenever possible.

While it would be lovely to be able to all work together all the time, I am always thrilled when I discover something new in the classroom along with the children. The one area that changes the most is our nature and science table.

The rocks and shells are still there. New boxes are added...fall leaves both real and man-made are brought in...acorns make an appearance, new jewel-toned glass jewels spill into the bellies of the large shells that are scattered about along with seed pods pulled from our late summer gardens. It seems there is always something new yet familiar waiting to be explored. Even the children have begun to bring in precious rocks and stones or sticks and leaves.

I discovered the quite nifty laminate tiles at the hardware store sometime last year. They are about four inches square and I picked them up for a coaster project but I think they are quite happy hanging out on the table hosting the various objects the children delight in arranging. The natural colors of the laminate with the faux-woodgrain switch it up a bit. It's something small and budget-friendly (free even) that elevated our hodge-podge of seed pods to small works of art.

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