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.
So this week we’re learning about orange. Yes, we are still in our farm theme – but it’s fall so I put this mini unit into the mix. This past weekend I made a batch of yellow and a batch of red playdough. As you’ve probably guessed, we are mixing the two together to get orange. I give each child a little ball of yellow and a little ball of red and just let them play – most mix the colors, a few choose not to. However, the color is coming out more of a red-orange then a true orange. I should have made a batch and a half of yellow and a half batch of red because as it stands now the red is overpowering the yellow. Oh well, I’ll have to mental-note that for next year.
Another activity we did was I put a squirt of yellow and a squirt of red paint into a small zip-lock sandwich baggie, sealed it, and gave one to each child to squish around. After a bunch of manipulation we discovered that the two colors mixed and made orange! Some children told me they already knew that would happen – but I could tell that for a lot of them it was a new discovery! I loved the looks on some of their faces when they saw the color changing!
One of the last activities we’ve done so far this week is painting with yellow and red. I put some red and yellow on a large piece of white construction paper and give them a paintbrush. Almost every child mixed their paints and painted until their entire paper was covered in orange! Then, when their painting was finished I put a strip of paper in the middle that read “Red + Yellow = Orange” – which made the kids excited because they had a “real” math problem on their paper! (We had talked about the “+” and “=” signs as a group beforehand when we did the paint in the baggies and I wrote it on the board)
So far, a good start to our week! 🙂
On Friday we taught the children that the water in the ocean is different from the water we drink (or the water in lakes and rivers). I told the children that the ocean was made up of salt water. Then I made some salt water and together we looked at it, smelled it, and then tasted it! Each child got a small cup with about a tablespoon of saltwater (I only gave them this much because I accidentally made it REALLY salty!). After I gave them their cup I asked them to smell the saltwater and tell me what they thought. Some thought it smelled “dirty” others said they “just smelled the cup”, and others said it smelled “like salt”. Then I asked them if it looked different from the water we get from the drinking fountain – and we decided it didn’t. Then I let them drink their water – and it was about a 50-50 split on who liked the saltwater and who didn’t!
I then gave them a small cup with freshwater in it and we repeated the same process. When I asked the children what they fresh water smelled like some said “clean” while others said “nothing”. We agreed it looked like saltwater and most of us said it tasted better then the saltwater! It was a good discussion and I’m glad we got the opportunity to talk about how the animals in the ocean have to live in a special kind of water.
I just got done making two batches of homemade playdough for my classroom! I made one green batch and one blue – I figured when they played with them and the colors mixed, it would turn a nice blue-green color – like the color of the ocean! This will be the first time some of my kids have played with playdough (sad – I know!) so I’m looking forward to seeing what they do with it! I put a couple tablespoons of vanilla extract in both batches to give it a nice smell – so I’ll need to talk about how we don’t eat playdough even though it smells good! lol Wish me luck!
Ms. Bennet and I are also working on turning our playhouse into a beach area. We have a couple beach balls, a couple small inflatable inner tubes, two child size beach chairs, a few beach towels, a small play barbecue, various sandles and flip flops, sunglasses, sun hats, child size Hawaiian shirts, and we are going to cover up our kitchen (a simple plastic one) with brown butcher paper and call it a sand dune! It’s not quite done – but almost there – we are aiming to have it completed by Monday! I think the children will really enjoy playing there! I know I’m excited!
I like to start the school year off by doing an ocean theme. I mean, we start so early that it’s still summer – and what better time to go to the ocean than during the summer? Not to mention that the children always love doing this theme! On Monday we had a class discussion about what we know about the ocean. We talked about what we saw when we went to the beach and what animals we knew lived in the ocean. They gave me some good answers – everything from seaweed and waves to fish and people – I was proud! I told them if any of them had ever been to the beach they could bring in pictures of themselves at the ocean and even shells and rocks they might have collected. So today one of my children did just this – and everyone was very excited!
Today and tomorrow we are learning about starfish. We are also making them. I cut out a starfish shape for each child. Then I mixed plain sand with various colors of glitter – I found a muffin tin works well to keep the colors separated. I like to keep one muffin tin space open to put the glitter sand (I like that term!) with all the colors that get shaken off with each starfish. Next, each child got to put glue on their starfish and sprinkle on the color(s) of glitter sand they want! They loved this project and the starfish turned out great! We also hung our jellyfish from the ceiling so our room is looking more and more like an ocean each day! The children were awestruck when they walked in to discover them hanging!
So far, it’s been a good start to the week. Tomorrow we finish up our starfish. I will also be getting a water table together complete with blue water, ocean animals, and seashells! I know the children will absolutely love this! And it will be a good sensory activity for them – a first time for some! I look forward to seeing all their reactions to the things we have planned! 🙂
Today was a great day! It felt like our classroom was running like a well oiled machine. The children are independent and confident enough to get through most of their centers without needing tons of help. They are able to resolve their disputes without constant tattling…a very nice feeling. Sometimes they need help finding the right words…but that’s natural. They are happy and engaged…you can see it in their faces. I like knowing this…it means I’ve done my job.
They are really enjoying our dinosaur theme. We still have our jungle in the playhouse area…but now it’s a dinosaur habitat! I put these inflatable dinosaurs in the playhouse/jungle area. I bought them on clearance 50% off at the beginning of the school year and I’m glad I finally have an excuse to use them! Despite the so-so reviews of them not working, mine seem to be doing fine! There is one that must have a tiny leak because at the end of the day about 1/3 of the air was out. But I don’t mind adding a little air each day – it’s a small price to pay for the children having sooo much fun with them!
I’ve also added some small dinos to our playdough – and the children have been having a blast using them to make footprints and landscapes with the playdough! Some of the kids even put a couple of them in a ball of playdough and pretended that they were hatching from eggs! Too cute! There are dinosaur rubbing plates to use with the crayons as well – a new experience for most of my class – but they’re starting to understand how to do it correctly! 🙂 Our oatmeal table now houses these skeleton dinosaurs as well as some brushes and scoops so the children can bury and them and then excavate the bones. I love these dinosaurs and the children seem to as well!
Right now, we seem to be working in perfect harmony with each other – an engaged, happy class! Let’s hope it continues! 🙂
What teacher does just love a dollar store?! I have found such great finds in our local Dollar Tree – from art supplies to toys to storage baskets! I also find a lot of my playhouse clothes and great books in local thrift stores and Goodwill’s – great items and low prices! I would love to hear if any of you out there have found great items at a dollar or thrift store and how you use them! Sometimes I find great items but don’t buy them because I can’t quite figure out what I would use them for. Either that or I leave them because I don’t have any place to store them when they aren’t in my classroom! I have officially run out of storage in my home and classroom! 😦
My most recent find was a ladybug and worm that start out small but grow when you put them in water. So, I put them in clear plastic containers so we could observe how they change. The children are getting a kick out of watching them grow! The good thing is the package says if you take them out again they will shrink back to their original size and then they can be reused – this is great to hear because now for an investment of $2 I can use these year after year until they stop working! Awesome!
Next week I think we’ll walk around the grounds of our building (lets hope Ms. Lezze-Faire says yes) in search of insects to observe…I’m sure the children will get a kick out of that! Not quite as cool a walk around the neighborhood would be but at this point I’ll take what can get! The children have been drawing bugs in their journals lately…lots of ladybugs and butterflies. They even draw the very hungry caterpillar – a green body with a red head – very cool!
I’ve put plastic bugs in the oatmeal table and I die-cut leaves and wrote numbers on them and we’ve used them as counting mats with our bug counters. I’ve also added large bug stuffed animals that I found around the school to our Jungle (read: playhouse area). Furthermore, I’ve been reading books about insects and stories that have insects as the main character. All I need to do is find an art project for next week and I’ll be set….so I’m off to search the web for something good!