Saturday, March 30, 2013

Sink Sensory Play

The weather around here has been wonderful the last few days and we have spent some time at our local nature sanctuary. This inspired Caleb to want to play with some pond creatures in water - especially snakes, turtles, and frogs.

An easy way to set up a water sensory experience for children without the hassle of a large table is to use the bathroom (or kitchen) sink. The water is easily contained and super easy to clean up.

For this experience we just used small polished river rocks and Caleb's plastic pond creatures.


A small activity that inspired hours of play!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Honouring Children's Questions

A few weeks ago Cadence ran off the school bus and excitedly held something in her hand. It was an orange seed that she had saved from a snack the school had served. "I wonder if it will grow," she yelled to me as she ran across the front yard.

Seeing this as an excellent provocation for inquiry, we planted the seed in a clear cup, using cotton balls for soil. The cotton balls held moisture and the clear cup allowed us to observe the changes in the seed.

We also planted peas and bean seeds alongside the orange seed. I thought it would be interesting to compare the seeds to each other and see the differences in how they sprouted. We placed the cups in a sunny window and kept track of how many days it took for them to sprout by recording the number on a post it note.

This was an incredibly engaging activity. Each morning the kids would rush to the window to see what changes had occurred in the seeds. It was so interesting to see the root systems develop and stems grow longer until they bent upwards and reached out the cup. 

When it was time to transplant the seedlings to pots with real soil, we spent a few minutes examining them on the light table and discussing the names of each part of the plant. The root systems were so complex and it was really neat to observe them when illuminated by the light table.

We carefully transplanted the seedlings to little pots that can be planted directly in our garden as soon as it's warm enough. These are now sitting next to a sunny window.

The orange seed never grew. It turned moldy after a few days and then we threw it out. This lead to some really interesting conversations about why the kids thought it didn't grow (perhaps because oranges grow in warmer climates than ours?) and what the needs of plants and living things are. By honouring Cadence's question about whether the orange seed would grow, we spent three weeks exploring and examining how seeds grow and what living things need in order to thrive.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Patterns Around the House

I've been continuing to explore the possibilities with our new ipad app, Pic Collage. Today Cadence and I had some fun scavenger hunts around the house looking for, and finding patterns. We played the game this way. First I secretly found some interesting patterns from around our house and compiled them using the Pic Collage app. Here is a screen shot of what it looked like:

Cadence was able to search the house and see if she could spot where the patterns were. Her initial observations of the patterns were really interesting to hear. She noticed how size, shapes, and colours repeated and expressed what the pictures reminded her of.

It was so much fun to search the house and compare objects to the patterns and see if her guess was right!

When she had found all nine patterns we switched and she created her own pic collage with nine patterns that I had to then find. It was a great way to infuse patterning with technology and help us to become more comfortable using the ipad!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Art in Unconventional Places

We have a forsythia bush in our backyard and I thought it would be interesting to cut some branches to force open indoors. Cadence was interested in painting a still life of them. 

We recycled an old shoe box lid as the canvas because the frame around the perimeter of the painting area really gives the artwork a feeling of importance. The art is instantly framed!

The painting turned out lovely and I appreciated the various blends of brown and green she used to represent what she interpreted when examining the branches in the vase.

Because I want to validate and appreciate my children's artwork, I like to use it as decor in our home - not just as postings for the fridge - helping them feel as though they are contributing to the 'culture' of our family life. I want them to see themselves represented in a way that honours their work. The shoe box lid was a perfect frame because it also helped the painting stand up without needing any additional support or adhesive, which allowed it to adorn the window ledge just above my sink. Now when I look out my window while doing dishes I'm inspired to think lovely green thoughts of spring instead of staring at bare tree branches!

How do you display your children's artwork at home and school?

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Deconstructing Colours

The kids have been very interested in colour mixing lately and instead of mixing primary colours together to get a secondary colour, I thought we'd deconstruct secondary colours by diluting them with water.

Cadence wrote the name of a colour on a piece of paper towel and we placed it on top of our light table (that was protected with a clear plastic bag). She slowly dropped water using a pipette on the marker and after many drops, the colour became diluted and we could observe the individual colours that had been used to create the secondary colour. They are hard to see in the photos, but as the green diluted we could clearly see the yellow and blue that had been used to create the shade of green separate from each other.  We tried this with many different colours - even black!

I thought it would be fun to document our exploration using a new app called Pic Collage that has lots of potential for sharing information and student creation in the classroom!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Floral Sensory Table

There has been a very interested buzz in our house lately over flowers - perhaps we all have spring fever? This past week I filled our sensory table with some beautiful river rocks, four galvanized containers, and dozens of assorted silk flowers (all from the local dollar store).

The kids were captivated and the materials have inspired much creative arranging as they have sorted the flowers by colour and size while designing different vases.

 I was really surprised by the high level of interest and engagement these materials inspired.

Free floral arrangements for the taking!

An interesting extension to this centre might be to add some shovels, gardening gloves and dirt, and replace the galvanized pots with terra cotta ones in order to turn the floral arrangement centre into a flower garden!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Documenting Spring Digitally

It was a beautiful spring day around here today and I was eager for the children to explore the changes happening in our yard. After taking a walk around and looking for 'signs of spring' I encouraged them to use the ipad to document what they saw. They noticed many interesting things like...

...a blooming crocus

...not wearing coats

...growing plants

I was recently introduced to an app called My Story, that allows children to create their own digital books. They can draw their own illustrations, use pictures from their photo library, type text, and record audio. We imported the photos that were taken outside into a digital book that the kids named "Spring". I helped them type the words and they recorded the audio.

It was a great way to infuse literacy into our experience exploring the arrival of spring-like weather! I see great implications for this app in the classroom! Children can become authors and illustrators and share their own books. Documentation from an experience (e.g., field trip) or inquiry can be created and shared using this very easy app!

Check out our finished spring book here!
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