Thursday, March 13, 2014

pom pom snowballs

I made a batch of pom-pom snowballs just for the fun of it. The children were able to safely have a snowball fight and practice catching and throwing. We also played hide and seek with them and used them as props for a song which was and still is a total hit. When we sing it, each child gets an opportunity to pick a body part for where their snow falls. We then see if we can balance our snowball or beanbag on that body part. Pom-poms are really easy to make, you can use a maker here, your hand, or cardboard.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

discovering discovery bottles

 One morning I was feeling a smidge under-the-weather and did not get everything together as planned for class. This called for a rifle through our sensory cabinet to see what I could come up with to set out and so I went with a small collection of discovery bottles. If you do not know what discovery bottles are they are upcycled clear plastic bottles filled with all sorts of wonderful things for children to look at.
 The children were so enthralled with the bottles that they asked if they could make their own. Luckily I had enough empty bottles in the cabinet and so while they were out playing and I was on my break I pulled together an assortment of items for them to add to their bottles.
 There were cut pieces of colorful straws, buttons, foil confetti, and more. The children worked their fine motor skills by picking up each item, one by one to add to their bottles. Some found items that were too big and some used the funnel to add their glitter in bulk.
 After they were satisfied with what they added, a pitcher was brought out and they poured their own water into their bottle. Some overfilled, some barely was an interesting lesson in volume and esitmation.
They LOVED their bottles and admired them during rest time, on the car rides home and later at bedtime.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

learning with ornamental corn

 My class begins with forty-five minutes of exploration time. This is when the children arrive and explore the room, centers, activities, and supplies I have set up for them. Sometimes what I set up is a hit and crowd pleaser with the children playing in the one spot every opportunity they have. Other times....not so much. It's all good as it helps me to get to know the children better and figure out what will engage them to higher levels of play and what will not (no matter how much encouragement they receive). This young man was a first arrival one morning while I was still setting up and discovered the wooden corn-on-he-cob holders I picked up at a local thrift. I got them mostly because htey were wood and an interesting shape. I thought they would be interesting to sort items into and/or accompany play dough play.
He asked me what it's name was and I told him it was intended to hold corn on the cob. His face crinkled up a moment and then his eyes flashed a wee light bulb and he was off looking for our ornamental corn that was no-longer on the nature shelves. I waited for him to use his words to ask me where the corn was and when he did I told him it had been put away and would he like to use it.
 He did indeed, and so we walked to the big teacher cabinet where the corn had been stored and I pulled out the bag for him. He immediately sat on the floor and attempted to fit the corn into the holder. When that didn't work I told him the husks were in the way and that maybe they needed to be shucked, explaining what shucking was. It took him awhile but he did it for each of the four ears of corn.
 Then he carried each holder over to a table. After placing two of the holders down he exclaimed "Hey! I made a L!"
The L became an O and then a train and then so many other lovely, wonderful, imaginative things. The best learning comes from within and this kiddo had a grand time of it!

Friday, March 7, 2014

sometimes flowers need to be studied

We were walking back from music to our classroom when one of the children spied a fallen camellia in his path. He immediately stopped, exclaimed, then picked it up. He held it out to me and I explained that he was holding a flower called a camellia. At that point the other children had to find their own and the hunt was on. We talked about only picking up the flowers that had already fallen and to not pick them from the bushes as there were plenty of fallen blooms.
The children were excited to explore their flowers in the classroom so instead of the planned activity and discussion, trays and magnifying glasses were pulled out. It was science time!
 The children touched their flowers, sniffed them, and peered at them closely through a magnifying glass. I showed them the parts of the flower, naming each one for them. Some of the children wanted to pull the petals off of their flowers and I encouraged them to explore.
This is Ellie's flower. It is red. She found it from the tree outside, at school. It is pretty.
This is Quincy's flower, it is grey. It has stripes. It has white on the inside.
I asked the children if they wished to create a scientific label for the flowers. I pulled down the typewriter and typed out their dictation. Later some of the petals made their way into our play dough while others were put in glass jars with water for observation. I love it when the day takes you somewhere else.