Sunday, December 30, 2012

Scent-sational Colour Spray!

We made a super easy colour spray to use in the tub and outside on the snow using kool-aid and water. In addition to being very vibrant in colour, it smells delicious

We used clear spray bottles and an assortment of kool-aid.

We poured two packages of the same colour of kool-aid into the bottle using a funnel.

We added water and shook very carefully.

These spray bottles are so easy for little hands to use and a very fun way to add a little creativity into the bath tub. I would recommend spot testing them before use to make sure they don't stain your tub.

We made a lot of bubbles in the tub and used the spray bottles to colour them.

As the colours combined they created a beautiful tie dye effect!

This activity would also be fun to do in a large water table in the classroom!

We had left over water from the bath so the next day we used it to colour some fresh snow that had fallen overnight.

What a fun way to strengthen children's fine motor muscles and encourage creativity! The wonderful smell of the solution kept my children motivated for a long time!

Holiday Carnations

It's been so nice to have so much time with the kids over the holidays. I picked up a bouquet of carnations to have as decoration on our table and thought it would be fun to do a mini experiment with them. We placed four carnations in their own small vases and coloured the water with food colouring - red and green to celebrate Christmas.

After leaving them overnight we woke to find them beautifully coloured after they 'drank' the water from the vases. They look so pretty in our window and the experiment led to a great conversation with the children about how flowers get nourishment, specifically water, in order to grow in the garden. This experiment would be fun to do with any colour combinations!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Holiday Play Dough

This blog entry is dedicated to the brave teachers and children of Sandy Hook Elementary School and is written in solidarity with my fellow Bloggers for Sandy Hook. I hope that as you explore this entry and the rest of my blog you find many ideas for how to engage in creative play and exploration with your children and make every moment in our lives count.
Play dough is one of our favourite activities - helping children to strengthen their fine motor skills and encourage creativity and oral language through play. Because my children have been so interested in the holiday decorations and art materials in the house, I thought it would be fun to combine them into a festive play dough experience!

We started with some simple ornaments added to a giant ball of play dough! Caleb was eager to explore how he could decorate his cut outs (tree, angel, star) by using the garland and miniature ornaments.

As he did, he noticed that they left interesting prints in the dough, and he used these to further decorate his cutouts.  Here the prints become the ornaments on the tree!

I also added some holiday foil cutouts, sparkly silver foam balls, small treasures, and bottles of glitter and encouraged him to explore how these materials could be used with the dough.

He was thrilled to have control over how to use the materials - sprinkling glitter to his heart's content and decorating with the treasures!

His sister joined in and they used the cutters to make more prints in the dough, adding to the design.

What a beautiful masterpiece! This activity is so easy to do and so much fun! A word of warning to the faint of heart - the glitter is messy and will get everywhere but seeing as it's a time of holiday and cheer, who doesn't want their house filled with glitter!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Recycled Puzzles

We love using found and natural materials in our learning experiences at home and school. Here is a wonderful way to recycle an old food box that I learned from my friends at the Parenting and Family Literacy Centres.

First cut the face off a food box. I like to use products my children are very familiar with.

Cut it into random puzzle-type pieces.

Encourage your child to fit the pieces back together just like he or she would with a commercially bought puzzle.

Celebrate and do it again!

This activity can be repeated with any product packaging and is a great way to infuse a little math into your daily activities! So easy!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Organizing Construction Paper

I was eager to help the kids organize construction paper for our art area in the basement. We purchased large accordian-style folders and a big bin. Each colour of paper was sorted into its own folder. Similar to when we organized our writing materials, organizing paper in this way offers lots of choice for children when they are creating as they consider what shade of the needed colour to use. It also reinforces math concepts since papers are sorted by colour. There is plenty of paper in this bin to last for months yet it only takes up a fraction of the space it did before it was organized! A neat and easy way to help children be responsible when creating art and in charge of their own learning materials. 

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Water Bead Exploration

I have a fondness for water beads. They are interesting to play with and are fairly inexpensive to purchase. We bought three packs of blue ones last week and I thought it might be fun to explore them again. (They are not suitable for very young children as they could be a choking hazard).

Usually we put the water beads in water overnight so that when we wake up they are ready to play with. This time I thought it would be fun to play with them as they expanded. We placed the beads in our portable water table with more water than required. I added in some tools to play with (e.g., funnels, tubes, cups, spoons) and invited Caleb to play with the beads while we waited for them to expand. 

They started to absorb water almost instantly and it was interesting to see Caleb observe that the beads fit into all funnels at the beginning of his play, but as they expanded they were no longer able to.

The beads added another dimension to the water table and sustained his interest for almost two hours of uninterrupted play!

As the beads got larger his play changed in response.

Once the beads became fully formed we drained the extra water (if they absorb too much they become very fragile and will split easily) and Caleb continued to explore them with the tools. What fun!

Acrylic Snowflakes

'Loose parts' that consist of interesting objects and materials are an essential part of encouraging children to engage in creative play. Removing commercial materials from the classroom and instead introducing children to objects that are full of intrigue will inspire hours of problem solving and innovative thinking! 

While perusing our local dollar store I found these acrylic snowflakes! 

They are beautifully crafted and because they are clear, would be a great addition to our light table! 

I can just imagine the play these might inspire as children sort, stack, and pattern with them!

When we are done with the light table I may include them in our portable water table and see what happens there!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Meaningful Use of our Calendar

Ever since reading the article Calendar Time for Young Children: Good Intentions Gone Awry I have not used traditional calendar activities in my classroom. Instead I have tried to use life events to help children get a sense of timelines and used calendars to record events meaningful to them. 

A few weeks ago I bought an amaryllis bulb from our local grocery store.  My children were fascinated with it and spent a great deal of time examining it. I did not show them the box it came in, but rather asked them to imagine what they thought an amaryllis was and what the bulb would grow into.

They drew their predictions.

We planted the bulb and placed it in a sunny location in our kitchen, where it could be regularly viewed.

Using a calendar for the months of November and December, we recorded what day we planted the bulb. I asked each child to predict when they thought the bulb would bloom and we also recorded this on the calendar.

The calendar sits next to the bulb...

...and each day that passes that the bulb has not yet bloomed is crossed off on the calendar.

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