I’ve been reading a lot lately about how great water beads are for the sensory and light tables and how much kids love them! So, I wanted to give them a try in my classroom. They sure looked awesome on all the blogs I saw them on and I knew my kids would love them! So, after reading that people were able to find them at the Dollar Tree (what teacher doesn’t love the dollar store?) I went to find some!
I was a little bummed that all my store had was clear water beads. But I bought them just the same (6 jars to be exact, all they had left). To add some color I found some plastic jewels in the craft section in various sizes and colors…I bought a pack of each color. So, today my kids got to play with the water beads for the first time!
I don’t have a sensory table, so I use an under the bed storage container, big enough for 2 kids to comfortably play together at a time. I would have loved to put the container on the light table, but I don’t have one of those either, so we made due. I put in some scoops and bowls and let them explore.
It was love at first touch! Haha! They love just running their hands through them and exploring the texture. Then they start to scoop and and pick them up, and drop them watching them bounce off one another. Then some kids start to sort the plastic jewels (their “treasures”). So much going on in one simple activity.
Other kids gather around the table to watch and wait their turn. They are very patient. They stand quietly. The children talk about how it feels and what they observe. They point out the sizes and colors of the jewels (and some even point out the different shades of the color families). Some notice how the beads are so clear they can see their fingers through them. And the jewels. They call them marbles or bubbles. They laugh. They tell me they like them. And I watch. I ask questions. I make sure water beads don’t get popped or eaten. But mostly I just enjoy their reactions to this new sensory world.
I enjoy sitting back and watching what my kids do. I think that’s one of the great things about teaching. When things are going smoothly and no one need help, we can have a few minutes to sit back and watch. To see what they’ll do next. And many times, we can be surprised by the way these little people think and act.
Today we were playing on the playground, as normal. They were all engaged in some sort of monster game…running around and screaming. I was standing back watching, occasionally reminding one or other of my boys to keep their hands to themselves and not push or pull people down.
Then suddenly they all got the idea to lay down and look at the clouds. At first the comments were, “Look how fluffy they are!” and “Wow, those are big!” Eventually the comments changed to things like, “Look, there’s a pirate ship!” and “Yeah, it’s chasing after a sea monster!”
I was very surprised, and delighted, to hear them taking turns pointing out cloud pictures and weaving it all into a collaborative story. It was quite possibly the most awesome thing to happen all day. And all unprovoked . All on their own. This is the first class I’ve ever had do something like this. Despite all of our difficult moments, all of our ups and downs, this class still holds a lot of pleasant surprises. 🙂
some of our creations displayed with easel paintings
I’ve been sick for almost 2 weeks now…but I feel almost human again! Last week I opened our Creation Station. This is basically a totally free art center with a variety of materials for them to use. I always wait until after Christmas to open this area because most of the children I get at the beginning of the year have not idea how to use basic materials such as scissors, glue, markers, hold punches, etc. So the beginning of the year is spent learning how to use and manipulate various art tools before I just let them at it!
My kids weren’t sure what to do…which is normal…and somewhat amusing. “What do you want me to do?” “What should I make?” “What can I use?” And so on. My answer is always the same, “Anything you want.” And with that, they’re off.
Some of my kids can spend close to an hour just cutting and gluing…sometimes even throwing it away when they’re done. Which always makes me wonder…as rare as it is. Some spend only a few minutes making their creation…and are insanely proud. But either way, I see their concentration and their joy in the process. And it makes it more then worth it…and they’ve asked for it everyday since. 🙂