Monday, December 12, 2011

Holiday Gift Suggestions Version 2.0

It is that time of year again when we are shopping for the children in our lives.  I just reviewed my blog post with gift suggestions from last year.  I am still a fan of that list but have a couple of things to add.

There are three games that my students love to play, and can play  fairly independently.
The game Hsss! combines color identification and visual logic.  It also uses counting skills when children are tallying up their score at the end.

Zingo is an adaptation of bingo where players match a picture chip to the picture on their boards.  The words are also listed allowing children to make connections to print.  They love sliding the chip holder to reveal the next pictures.  

The last game is The Storybook Game.  In this game a player draws a card and has to incorporate the item featured into the story that is being told by the group.  It is great for language development. 

The last new item I want to suggest is very simple and open ended.  A dry erase board and markers from your local office supply store.  

Children love the feel of using this material traditionally used by adults.  The fact that erasing is so easy is very freeing.  I have a large bin of them that I keep out in my classroom.  The children use them to draw ideas for block structures, signs for dramatic play and as their easels for playing school.  They have been very fond of making graphs lately and having their classmates respond to their questions.  They come in various sizes so your child could have one to use while driving in the car and a bigger one to use at home.  And don't forget to get the eraser...they LOVE the eraser!

This child is now building the idea he sketched on the white board

The white board became a "specials" menu.  Pizza, ice cream and pie are being served.

I would love to hear your suggestions for the young children in your lives.  Share with us the great things you have discovered.  

Happy Holidays!

Sensory Sachets

We do a lot of baking in our classroom.  Around this time of year we use a great deal of fragrant spices in our baking such as ginger, cinnamon and allspice.  When we bake, we simply measure out these spices from the jars purchased at the store.

A great sensory experience that we wanted the children to explore was to see these spices before they are ground up and placed in containers.

We purchased the whole spices from a spice store and put them out with mortars and pestles for grinding.

We had fennel seed, cloves, star anise, allspice, nutmeg, cinnamon sticks and fresh ginger(for this we added a grater).

The children enjoyed using the mortar and pestle and seeing how the spices changed under their twisting.  The room was incredibly fragrant as the children discussed among themselves how they felt about each smell.

The clerk at the spice store even found a large piece of natural cinnamon for me to show the children.  In this state it really looks just like tree bark from the back yard.

After a few days of grinding and exploring spices, we had quite a bowl full of ground up material.  Rather than waste it, we decided to make sachets.  This was another learning opportunity as the children did not know what that term meant.

We cut up some fabric that we had on hand.

Put out fabric markers for the children to use to decorate the material.

Then they scooped out a couple of spoonfuls of the spice mixture and we helped them tie it up.

This way, although this was primarily a process oriented activity, the children had a piece of it to bring home and use to explain their experiences to their families.