Friday, October 29, 2010

ice in the mortars

A while ago I posted about our new mortar and pestles. 

We've been crushing various natural items like dried leaves and seeds but a little extra left over ice from the kitchen got me to thinking about switching it up a little bit. So I added to ice to the center and the children began to grind away.

The end result looked like slushy! Hmmmm homemade slushies?

The end!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

tube and funnel peg board

We definitely have some 'water babies' this year. You can always tell who needs more water play by observing the children who spend copious amounts of time 'washing' their hands and anything else that might be near the sink. Normally I am content to keep water in our atrium which has a lot of natural surfaces for water to drain on (it is essentially an outdoor space that is glassed in like a green house). But this year I thought it might be best to exchange the sand for water in our sensory table to free up the sink.

To everyone's delight, my colleague Kelly brought this beauty into the classroom and placed it in the atrium (both our classrooms open onto this atrium so we share everything out there). 

She assembled it by using a zip tie to fasten the tubes topped with funnels to a peg board. She added a low tub at the base for the water to drain into. At first we used plain water but the children had a hard time seeing which tube the water was flowing down. Once we added purple watercolor they could see that the tubes crisscrossed over each other.

They are totally engaged while learning about the effects of gravity on water, flow, measurement, and developing fine motor coordination.  Cool, huh?

The end!

the pendulum, AKA the wrecking ball

My dad built this pendulum for me over the summer using instructions by Bev Bos.  As you can see it is quite large so I had it in storage until I could find space for it. I dug this platform out of storage and placed it in our atrium (it was built by a former coworker and donated to the center when she left).

I showed the children how to build towers and use the 'wrecking balls' to knock them down. This is a nice outlet for children with a need to see things tumble! There is just something so inherently attractive about the creative and destructive processes. The foam blocks are light enough to be knocked over and can be built quickly for my friends with shorter attention spans.

For the older children who needed a greater challenge, I showed them how to make pyramids:

The end!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

blueberry play-dough dye

I got the recipe for blueberry colored play-dough from mini-eco. As in our last experiment with turmeric, I multiplied it out for mass classroom-quantity.

The room smelled delicious as the blueberries reduced. The children predicted what color the the dye would make the dough: blue, purple, and red. 

All the adults came by and smelled it expecting a sweet smell (I kept thinking grape bubble gum), but alas it just smelled like plain dough. To tie it all together we read Blueberries for Sal (they were totally engrossed in the story) and practiced wringing the letter B. 

The End!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

our 'beautiful stuff'ed envelopes

A few years ago our center collected items from home. They were sorted by color and displayed in the hallway until the university's education students dismantled them to display their educational projects. The beautiful jars of found objects lived in a box in the closet until I dragged them back out and set them out on the table, uncapped.

This year, a parent was generous enough to drop off a case of outdated software CDs that came in little envelopes with round windows. We used the CDs to create 'light catchers' and decided to use the envelopes to display some of the 'stuff'. The children had a blast going through the containers choosing their favorite items. I had a hard time convincing them to leave the envelopes here at school for me to display.

Since we don't have a lot of wall space due to a copious amount of windows, I've been trying to use our vertical space to display our work: 

The end!

fence weaving

After seeing how cheerful our playground fence looked after hanging up our coffee filter art, I wondered if the children would be interested in weaving fabric into the gate.

I organized this activity a little differently this time. Normally I have strips ready for them and they manipulate the fabric from start to finish. However, it's extremely challenging for the younger ones who tend to give up easily.

This time, I had the children rip the strips first (I gave them fabric that was pre-snipped at the top). 

Then I tied the strips to the fence at regular intervals and had the children partner up. One child would put the fabric through the fence and the other would pull it through and vice-versa.

Older children preferred to work alone:

When they got to the end of the fabric I tied a knot or they tied one themselves.

At the end of the day:

With our coffee filters:

Sunday, October 10, 2010

coffee filter art

I found a few of these ginormous coffee filters in our center's closet (I'm amazed at what one can uncover in vast amount of closets in our building). I set out watercolor paint and pipettes and we got to work coloring the filters. We worked together to color them since we only had a few.

Finding a place for these behemoths to dry was a little tricky, but a large drying rack in our atrium did the trick.

I couldn't figure out a nice place to display them in the building so I brought them outside and wove them in our fence so parents would be greeted with the children's work when they came to pick up (we dismiss from our playground). And seeing how it seems like we live in the desert and not the Midwest lately what with the drought I figured that they would last a while without fear of rain.

This is so cheerful looking it's inspiring me to think of other ways to spruce up the fence...

The end!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

the sailboat project

This project came about one day when we were sitting atop our playground picnic table. The children sitting with me wanted to pretend the table was a boat. S was pretending to raise and lower the sails while I was given the assignment of swabbing the deck. I asked them if they would like to research some sail boats and create some actual props for the boat. The agreed.

After looking at some reference books the children decided that they needed a mast, an anchor, and a mainsail. We raided the recycle room and found that a push broom would make the mast, a sheer curtain could be a mainsail and a book of drapery samples would be the anchor. The table would be the hull. S remembered she needed some rope to hoist the sails so we found two different kinds.

We brought the items outside to the picnic table and quickly realized we needed some way to attach the items. Tape was quickly agreed upon so we went back in to find some masking tape.

The tape didn't work so well, so we tried glue too:

Glue didn't work either. However while the children were playing with the items they discovered that the nylon rope could be threaded through the top of broom. This reminded me of a pulley system and I pointed out that if we attached the rope to the mast we could hoist mainsail (this was a very important process for S). So we set to work on attaching the nylon to the sail with glue and staples but those didn't work either. Finally I suggested we try to sew it and brought out my little travel sewing kit. I showed S, who was very  interested, how to manipulate the needle she sewed the pieces together.
At last we experienced success. The nylon rope stretched from here to eternity (practically) which was a good thing because many children grabbed hold of the rope and started shouting, "heave-ho, heave, ho!" By this time S decided the little boat in our backyard should be our sailboat so we had moved the props over there. 

The first try was a little too zealous and the broom went flying. We made sure we stopped when the mast reached the top, although it took a few tries before we got it.

More on this project as it continues to develop! 

The end!

play-dough impressions

The children discovered that pressing objects into our play-dough left impression. Every now and again some children would return to that discovery and show me what they made. I decided to make a formal lesson for them out of this discovery, so the children helped me make a special batch of play-dough especially for the activity. We put it on the art table and then set out in search of interesting objects to press into the dough. They found bottle caps, shells, pine cones, scissors, necklaces, and other miscellaneous items from the recycle center (this photo reminded me it was time to tidy up the studio, lol)

A view of our work area:

Pressing corn:

Sometimes the dough stuck to the table so we used a spatula to loosen it:

When I asked the children what the impressions reminded them of some children were quite literal. Scissor impressions were scissors.

This one, however reminded us of an owl:

Some children noticed the pattern the objects made like circles or rectangles. Once they began to understand the particular cause and effect of their actions they made comments like, 'I want to see what happens when I use the pumpkin'.

The end!

Friday, October 1, 2010

light catchers

Recently, one of our parents was generous enough to donate a large volume of outdated software CDs. I brought them outside along with markers to color. 

Some of the children noticed that there were rainbows inside them.

We also noticed that when the sunlight hit them, it reflected onto the canopy above us. We quickly had fun 'catching' light and bouncing it all over the place.

Some of the children's thoughts:

J: It's like a flashlight
S: it's yellow like big bird
S: J's is invisible (when he couldn't see 'his light')
A: Mine has a rainbow
B: this is for your baby, Ms. Erin.

Later, I attached some of the CDs that weren't squirreled away in backpacks to a branch to make a mobile. We decided it should hang outside our window in the atrium where it could catch some direct sunlight. This is my lovely assistant hanging it for us! 

Here you can see it from the classroom: 

The end!
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