Thursday, November 22, 2012

Straw Painting

Our morning message said we would "paint with air this week".  That led to a discussion of how we could do this.  One of the children actually said, "we could use a straw to blow it!"  

To do this we put slightly watered down tempera paint in cups with pipettes (eye droppers).
The children put a piece of paper on a small try and wrote their names.

Then they dripped several dots of paint onto the paper. 

 They took a straw and blew the paint around the paper.

They explored how changing the angle or the force changed the paint.

Some experimented with moving the tray in various positions or...

with moving their bodies.

I always love when science and art combine so beautifully.  Have lots of paper on hand as the children wanted to do this one again and again and again!!

Note: we did make sure each child threw out his/her straw when finished so we were not sharing straws.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Phase III of the Pasta Project-The Feast

Like many preschool classes, we had a feast today and invited parents.  The way ours was different, however, was that we served pasta and it was not a celebration of Thanksgiving.  We have come to the end of our Pasta Project that we have been involved with for about the last eight weeks. 

When we asked the children how they thought we could best show our parents what we had learned about pasta they decided that they wanted to cook it for them.  We discussed what we would need to make or buy for this event.  In this process, we learned about invitations and keeping track of RSVPs. 

We decided to make placemats like the ones we had seen on our field trip to the pasta restaurant (another post I need to write).  Each child also made a menu where they sounded out the words of the items we were serving. We also learned how to set the table.
We were expecting 45 people!  So when we made our "red" ravioli last week, we froze it.  We made tomato sauce on Monday. We also made two more batches of fettuccine noodles yesterday.

Today was the big day.
We gave parents a guide listing all the things they needed to check out in the classroom while the pasta cooked; our folders which held field notes, experiment documentation, a memory drawing, a culminating drawing, and surveys the children had conducted; the various cookbooks we had made; photographs of our field trip; documentation of learning that was displayed on the walls; as well as three pasta making stations.  We gave each child some dough and they taught their parents how to use the pasta machine to make noodles. 

And then we ate!! 

It was a wonderful celebration of our learning giving the children a chance to be the "experts" and teach the people most important to them how they have learned so much through their wonderings and their play.  

I am quite thankful that I teach in a school and community that embraces emergent learning.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Spatial Awareness Game-Home and School

We set up a game in the classroom for the children to play in pairs in order to foster their spatial awareness and use of their words in their vocabulary.  

We put big, flat boards held up vertically by support blocks on the rug with a tray of colored wooden blocks.  There are two of each color block.  

 One child gives the directions while the other child follows them.

 There are eight blocks for each set.

 One child tells the other child where to put each block.
"Put the white block down.""Put the yellow block on top of the white block."
"Put the green block on top of the yellow block"...

When they are finished, they lift the partition and see how similar the buildings look.  

This pair learned the hard way, that maybe they should build a bit away from the screen.  But they didn't give up.  They moved on to the other child giving directions.  

We did this in small groups and then the materials were left out for children to use on their own.  The pictures above were taken on the day that they could use these items as a choice and it was very popular. 

This would be a fun game to play with your child at home as well.  You can always use the top of a board game propped up as a partition.  If you do not have blocks handy, you can use buttons or bottle caps or any small toys of which have two each. When it is your turn to give directions use spatial terms such as behind, in front of, next to, on top of, under, on the left, on the right, and so on.  
Have fun playing!

Monday, November 12, 2012

A Multi-sensory Experience: Clean Mud

Clean mud is a mulit-step multi-sensory experience that everyone must try!

Take about 6 bars of white soap.  We started with Ivory and switched to Dove.  Grate the soap with cheese graters until it is in very small pieces.  We used the large side of the graters.  We grate it right into our sensory table.  

We have graters that are designated just for soap and crayons at our school.  As these are sharp, we have the children wear a glove on the hand holding the soap to avoid any nicks with the grater.
This took a couple of days with different children taking turns grating.  Some loved it and grated every day, others took one turn and were done...and some avoided this part. 

The soap smell becomes very strong during this part, so if that might bother some of your students, you can choose a soap with less scent.     

Once the soap has been grated all up, we move on to the toilet paper.  We ripped up about four rolls of toilet paper into teeny tiny pieces and added that to the soap. We hung ours from a rod above the sensory table to allow the children independent access to the toilet paper as they were ripping it.  This part took another couple of days.
You then have a fluffy, powdery, clean smelling
bunch of stuff in your sensory table.  Make sure the children take a look at it at this point for comparison later.

Then we added warm water a little at a time and watched what happened.

The fluffiness went down as more water was added.

As we mixed it up with our hands we could feel it changing. The dryness became moist, the fluffiness became smooth and sticky.

We added about 6 small pitchers of warm water, but this is purely preference and trial and error.  There is no "wrong" way to do it...after all, its the process that counts.
We noticed that a full sensory table full of material disappeared leaving what seemed like a small amount of stuff behind.

Until we started playing with it...
and it got fluffier....
and fluffier...
and fluffier once again.

It feels really good on your hands, especially that first day when it is warm. The children are using their senses of touch, sight and smell together with this experience. 

Yep! That good!

We used it for another day after that and now we will play with what we saved in our outdoor mud kitchen.
Give it a try!