Monday, December 13, 2010

winter ice ornamnets

With the below freezing wind chills, I thought it was a good time to try making ice ornaments. We reused disposable cereal cups as the mold for our ornaments and filled them with items from our ‘Beautiful Stuff’ collage collection.

After we filled the cups the children used watercolor paint and droppers to add color to their ornaments. Initially we only had a small amount of cups so each child could only make one (normally we have enough for each child to create until they are ‘done’. I practically had to swear on the life of my firstborn that we would make more on Monday.   

The results add a nice splash of color to our white winter wonderland!

Friday, December 3, 2010

scooters and bean bags

This great gross motor activity came from a very nice lady, Dr. Divya Sood, of our university’s occupational therapy department This is an activity she recommended for children who could benefit from vestibular stimulation. I'm not going to lie, I just Googled vestibular system.

What I did was have the children lay on their stomachs on scooters. The object was to scoot around, pick up bean bags and scoot them to a bucket. As the bean bags came in, I threw them back out on the floor. At first I threw them at random, but then I placed them strategically so that they had to scoot farther distances to acquire them.  
The children had a blast.

we used cheese graters (and no one got hurt!)

I learned about this activity from Lisa Murphy’s Ooey Gooey workshop. She has great resource books for parents and teachers alike, and I highly recommend them. We used the graters to shred Ivory soap. Lisa recommends Ivory because it’s softer and easier to shred.

Before I let the children use the graters, I demonstrated how to use them properly at the morning meeting. I showed the children how to hold them, and explained that they had to keep their fingers as far away from the metal as possible or it would cut them. The first child up to the table was a 3.3 year old. My assistant and I held our breath as he began, but we had nothing to worry about. All the children used the graters properly and no one got hurt. They were very eager to have their turns though, that’s for sure.

Here are some of their words:

M: This is softer than a blanket.
K: These are shavings.
A: This is hard snow. The flour is soft snow.
K: It looks like salt and pepper.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

we're going on a wheel hunt!

Since my parents ordered so many books from Scholastic Book Clubs, I received $60 in free books for the classrom. One of the books I ordered was, What do Wheels do all Day? by April Jones Prince. The book talks about the different jobs that wheels do. After reading the book to the class I asked if they wanted to go on a wheel hunt. They quickly agreed and we took off first discovering wheels in the classroom. We then expanded our seach to different wheels across the center.

Here are some of the wheels we saw and some of the things the children had to say about wheels:

M: Wheels Roll

A: Wheels play.

 A: Wheels spin.
K: The wheels on the chair roll.

Wheels push (technically wheels pull, but we'll explore that later):

A:Wheels pedal.
 We quickly discovered that whiles wheels roll, not all things that roll are wheels.

K: Pumpkins roll
Ms. Erin: Are pumpkins wheels?
K: No.

Cups roll, but they are not wheels:

These observations led to a discussion on the difference between wheels and things that roll, specifically balls. To facilitate this discussion we created a Venn diagram.
The children stated that 
-wheels are round on the outside only/ balls are round everywhere
-wheels can be seen on cars, wagons, bikes, and scooters while balls are seen outside
-both wheels and balls roll, are round, are circles, and can run out of air.

Bravo children!

The end!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

grinding corn with the mortar and pestles

We received a gift of corn kernels from Ms. Kelly and Ms. Beth after they were finished using them in their room. Score! We poured them in our sensory table and added some for grinding in the mortars. We quickly discovered that the less kernals in the mortar the easier it is to grind. 

The end!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Rockstar costumes and t-shirt designs

A certain group of children in the morning class love to use the rhythm sticks on pillows to pretend they are in a band called the Rockstar Band. They line up all the chairs for their audience, create tickets for the show time (6:30), and invite everyone to come and watch.

The most recent extension of their dramatic play experience was to create costumes. Two boys started by using a stencil to trace a star. They cut them out and taped them to their T-shirts.

The 'stars':

Some Rockstars chose different design for their shirts:

Other children not participating in the band thought this was a great idea and created designs for their shirts too:

The end!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

baking soda and vinegar experiment

Ah, science experiments. What's not to love? 

I set this experiment up in three stations on the long table. At one end I added baking soda to a tray and set out cups of vinegar with pipettes so the children could work as a group. 

At the other end I set up individual cups of vinegar and baking soda.

I also set up bottles of vinegar as well. 

After the children began using the pipettes I added watercolor to the vinegar so they could see the reaction better. The colors were lovely, but in retrospect I would have used only one color so they could focus on the reaction.

Some of their thoughts:

A: It's like pop cuz it gots bubbles.
K: It reminds me of the color of paper
E: It's bubbling up.
M: It's burning.
K: It doesn't work any more.
S: Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

self portraits- part one

For our study on identity this year, I decided to focus on self portraits. To begin I encouraged all the children draw a picture of themselves from memory (some refused). 

 (J's initial self portrait)

Next I had the children who were really interested draw another self portrait this time using a mirror as reference and pointing out some basic features. I photocopied their drawings onto watercolor paper and then they painted them.

 (J's watercolor)

Some of their words:
My eyebrows look like feathers
I love this picture, I look like an old man.

My picture is cool, I have a British voice.
My mom combs my hair and it hurts a little bit but I don't cry.
This one doesn't look like me, can I do it again?

After this we explored  how our drawings looked on wood (still using mirrors):

And finally (for this installment anyway) we added three dimensional objects to our portraits to represent out features:

(J's self portrait in middle)

The end!

marble painting

This activity was nice because we had the opportunity to make individual marble painting and group marble paintings.I gathered up some cardboard beverage trays from our recycle room and the children added their paper. They used spoons to fish out the marbles from the paint trays. In retrospect I think I added too much paint to the trays. Regardless they had a lot of fun with this activity.

The group marble tray was made of wood and it required some gross motor skill and steep tipping:

The final group product:

The end! 

Friday, October 29, 2010

ice in the mortars

A while ago I posted about our new mortar and pestles. 

We've been crushing various natural items like dried leaves and seeds but a little extra left over ice from the kitchen got me to thinking about switching it up a little bit. So I added to ice to the center and the children began to grind away.

The end result looked like slushy! Hmmmm homemade slushies?

The end!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

tube and funnel peg board

We definitely have some 'water babies' this year. You can always tell who needs more water play by observing the children who spend copious amounts of time 'washing' their hands and anything else that might be near the sink. Normally I am content to keep water in our atrium which has a lot of natural surfaces for water to drain on (it is essentially an outdoor space that is glassed in like a green house). But this year I thought it might be best to exchange the sand for water in our sensory table to free up the sink.

To everyone's delight, my colleague Kelly brought this beauty into the classroom and placed it in the atrium (both our classrooms open onto this atrium so we share everything out there). 

She assembled it by using a zip tie to fasten the tubes topped with funnels to a peg board. She added a low tub at the base for the water to drain into. At first we used plain water but the children had a hard time seeing which tube the water was flowing down. Once we added purple watercolor they could see that the tubes crisscrossed over each other.

They are totally engaged while learning about the effects of gravity on water, flow, measurement, and developing fine motor coordination.  Cool, huh?

The end!

the pendulum, AKA the wrecking ball

My dad built this pendulum for me over the summer using instructions by Bev Bos.  As you can see it is quite large so I had it in storage until I could find space for it. I dug this platform out of storage and placed it in our atrium (it was built by a former coworker and donated to the center when she left).

I showed the children how to build towers and use the 'wrecking balls' to knock them down. This is a nice outlet for children with a need to see things tumble! There is just something so inherently attractive about the creative and destructive processes. The foam blocks are light enough to be knocked over and can be built quickly for my friends with shorter attention spans.

For the older children who needed a greater challenge, I showed them how to make pyramids:

The end!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

blueberry play-dough dye

I got the recipe for blueberry colored play-dough from mini-eco. As in our last experiment with turmeric, I multiplied it out for mass classroom-quantity.

The room smelled delicious as the blueberries reduced. The children predicted what color the the dye would make the dough: blue, purple, and red. 

All the adults came by and smelled it expecting a sweet smell (I kept thinking grape bubble gum), but alas it just smelled like plain dough. To tie it all together we read Blueberries for Sal (they were totally engrossed in the story) and practiced wringing the letter B. 

The End!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

our 'beautiful stuff'ed envelopes

A few years ago our center collected items from home. They were sorted by color and displayed in the hallway until the university's education students dismantled them to display their educational projects. The beautiful jars of found objects lived in a box in the closet until I dragged them back out and set them out on the table, uncapped.

This year, a parent was generous enough to drop off a case of outdated software CDs that came in little envelopes with round windows. We used the CDs to create 'light catchers' and decided to use the envelopes to display some of the 'stuff'. The children had a blast going through the containers choosing their favorite items. I had a hard time convincing them to leave the envelopes here at school for me to display.

Since we don't have a lot of wall space due to a copious amount of windows, I've been trying to use our vertical space to display our work: 

The end!

fence weaving

After seeing how cheerful our playground fence looked after hanging up our coffee filter art, I wondered if the children would be interested in weaving fabric into the gate.

I organized this activity a little differently this time. Normally I have strips ready for them and they manipulate the fabric from start to finish. However, it's extremely challenging for the younger ones who tend to give up easily.

This time, I had the children rip the strips first (I gave them fabric that was pre-snipped at the top). 

Then I tied the strips to the fence at regular intervals and had the children partner up. One child would put the fabric through the fence and the other would pull it through and vice-versa.

Older children preferred to work alone:

When they got to the end of the fabric I tied a knot or they tied one themselves.

At the end of the day:

With our coffee filters:

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