Monday, January 28, 2013

Snowflake Inquiry

We had a wonderful snowfall here last Friday and on the way home from school the children noticed the perfectly formed snowflakes sticking to the van windows. This interest in the formation of the snowflakes became the provocation for some exploration outdoors.

We used black construction paper that I popped outside while the kids dressed. This way the paper would be cold and could easily catch the snowflakes without melting them. 

Because the snow was falling so gently it was easy to quickly fill up our papers.

We brought our magnifying glasses outside with us in order to see the formation of the flakes even more clearly.

We also noticed that there were hundreds of perfectly formed flakes on our black BBQ - making it even easier to view the snowflakes up close! This was also a great chance to talk about why the metal BBQ was better at keeping the snowflakes cold and formed compared to our construction paper.

Once inside we looked up some nonfiction information about snowflakes. Highlights Kids has a great article here!

Cadence was eager to represent the snowflakes we had observed outside, so after making some out of various kinds of paper (printing paper, parchment paper, wax paper) we stuck them to our back window which had been covered with sticky contact paper.

We now have a beautiful collection of snowflakes decorating our door and reminding us of the beauty we observed outside!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Valentine Bath

We've had valentine fever around here so I thought I'd create a fun bath experience for the kids that encouraged creativity. These activities would also be a lot of fun in a large water table.

We used large and small foam hearts, bath time crayons (made out of soap), and valentine's paint (shaving cream coloured with red food colouring and sprinkled with sparkles and mini foil cut outs).

I added lots of bubbles and coloured the water in the tub red with a bit of food colouring. The foam hearts floated on the top of the water and looked so pretty!

The wet foam pieces stuck to the sides of the tub and wall and the kids were able to create pictures and also paint on top of them. The paint also acted as a glue and could also be used to stick pieces together.

The paint was so pretty and lots of fun to use. It was great with brushes or as a finger paint!

Every Day Messages

Cadence has been very interested in writing lately so in order to encourage this further, I have been leaving little notes around the house for her to read and then leave a response to. After she's left the response I add another question or comment for her to read and consider.

Recording how many mini daffodils have bloomed over night...

Thinking about what story to read at bedtime (she wanted a 'fiction' story)...

Planning what kind of sandwich to pack in the next day's lunch...

Monday, January 14, 2013

Insect Dramascape

Caleb has been very interested in insects lately so I turned our portable water table into an insect drama/playscape using some potting soil, sand, shells, and plastic insects. I also added a few branches for interest and different levels of play.

He was immediately drawn to the playscape and began to dramatize using the various props.

I joined in the play and we had a great conversation about what bugs in the winter do - this lead to some rich vocabulary building (e.g., burrowing, layers, hibernation).

Dramascapes are a great way to encourage creativity and sensory play in a small space. Tonight I plan on reading a few nonfiction books about insects to help build our understanding and hopefully inspire more adventures in the bin tomorrow!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Contained Finger Painting

Providing opportunities for children to explore materials like paint with their hands/fingers is an important developmental experience. It encourages fine motor strengthening and control, creative expression, and early experiences with mark making. When children are encouraged to make marks with different materials, they develop experience and interest in pre-writing behaviours - realizing that they have the ability to permanently record something tangible that can be observed, discussed, and interpreted by others. This behaviour is an important milestone for children who are learning to write. Early marks will eventually turn into drawings and as children share the 'story' behind each drawing, they will come to understand that these pictures can also be explained in oral and written words. (Schickendanz, J.A. & Collins, M.F. (2013). So much more than the ABCs: The early phases of reading and writing. National Association for the Education of Young Children)

I love to encourage children to draw and finger print in paint but know that many people are reluctant to encourage this due to the extreme messiness that is natural with the activity.  In order to contain the paint and still encourage free exploration, we used our portable water table as the canvas for our work.

Caleb selected some complimentary colours of washable paint (anything else will be much harder to clean) to use in the bin.

At first he was interested in using various painting tools to explore the paint.

I encouraged him to use all the space in the bin, including the inside walls.

Of course any kind of paint with young children will often turn to finger painting and because I wasn't worried about the messiness of this activity, I encouraged him to explore painting his hands with the various brushes.

Even though the paint was repeatedly swirled together, the complimentary colours blended into a beautiful shade of aqua green and was still appealing to use.

The paint was cool and felt so smooth and Caleb spent a long time exploring it.

This activity was fun and so easy to do! An easy way to save any pictures or printing done in the paint is to lightly press a piece of large paper against it and make a print of the work. This way children's experiences can still be saved for classroom display or portfolio use.

When we were done we simply washed the bin out in our tub. Any large water/tactile table would work well for including many children at once. Smaller bins could also be placed together on a table top with many different colour combinations.

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