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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Finger Plays

This is a great e-book link for some of the finger-plays we do at school.
The drawings are magical.

title page

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

More Fun at the Light Table

Light Table Button Game

The light table has become a staple explorations tool at school.

We started the button game after we had played for a while with the buttons on the table (something I saw on the internet.)  I have had these buttons since middle school, I inherited them from my great grandmother.  I have never done anything with them, and I am happy to be playing with them at school.

Of course you do not want to use these around really little ones because they are oh so tempting for them to put in their mouths.

Back to the button game, as I said we were playing with the buttons on the table, and as the kids started to lose interest, I took our well loved rainbow stir straws and began to push the buttons with the straws.  This then started a game of trying to push the buttons to one side of the table only using the stir straws.  The attempt was to try and get as many as we could to either side.

It kept them interested for a long time, and it really is great hand-eye coordination.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Magnet Board Fun!

A couple weeks ago I bought sheet metal to make a magnet board at school, but was waiting on hanging it up because I needed to make a frame for it.   Then I came across this fabulous idea on the Internet of using an oil pan as a magnet board.  It is great!  The pan itself is much lighter and bigger than the sheet metal, has curved finished edges, and is cheaper, mine was $9.00! 
We hung it up and the fun began.

We have a Melissa and Doug magnet dress up set, and had that available for the kids to play with.
I then took pictures of the kids, printed and placed then on adhesive magnet paper.
I also printed some pictures of bodies they may like playing with.  Some ides were Shrek, Superman, Elmo, etc.  Now the kids place their head on top of the bodies and it is great, humorous fun for us all.

It is so cute to see which bodies and outfits they choose out for themselves.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Wonderful World of Water Beads!

A couple months ago I saw a post by Play At Home Mom, about water beads, and since then they have been all over the internet. Those women had a brilliant idea, and I am happy to say, we too, have joined the water bead world!
They are so much FUN!

I ordered mine at, and paid less than a dollar for each pack. I know you can also get them at Michael’s and Wal-Mart, but this online store had a lot of colors and styles. It was also fun starting them from scratch. I had not known how little they are before they are soaked in water. I had fun with my daughter watching them grow.
The water beads came in small little bags, and even here, they are shown bigger than they really are, they are about the size of a large seed bead.

Elianna placed them in a bowl with 5 cups of purified water, and two things happened immediately, they started to grow and Elianna was enticed to play with them

We tried to wait the 5 hours it takes for them to grow, but we couldn't help ourselves.
We placed a bucket of them on the light table with color transparencies under them. It was so neat to look at them because the outside was clear so it was a weird illusion trying to pick them up because the color inside was smaller than the actual bead.

Using our colored stir sticks, we tried to pick them up

Here are the beads after they were removed from the water.
Now they are ready for some school playtime.

It was fun filling this clear tube

But even more fun when the beads were released...did I mention they bounce!

Water Crystals

Along with the water beads, we grew water crystals which aren't as bouncy or tactile as the water beads, but they are marvelously squishy in the hands and great for hiding things.

They are very pretty with a light glowing under them

Just as enticing as water beads, the kids got right into the bin.
I hid small flat glow in the dark animal and stars in the bin for them to find as they played.

Here are our two stations set up. One group worked with water beads, the other the water crystals and then they switched. They were so into this, they played for almost 40 minutes, and would have played longer had it not been that our bread came out of the oven and snack became a priority for them.
One thing I wanted to add about having both the beads and crystals is that water beads can be squished, which is fun, but we asked the kids to only squish one and to save the squishing for the crystals. I think it made it so that we still have whole water beads for future play.




salt painting

Salt painting is a neat process for the kids.  They learn about how salt absorbs moisture, but they do it in such a fun way, it is like magic to them.

We started this project off by having the kids make their own colors.  They love the process of adding food coloring to water and to tell you the truth I love watching it as well.

Once they mixed their colors, they then shared them with each other in small cups.

After they have their colors, they take glue and draw with it on their paper.  We used card stock.

Place the paper on top of a baking sheet and sprinkle salt all over their glue

Shake the excess salt off into a cookie sheet.

The children took their eyedroppers and placed them into the color cups and began to squeeze the water on the salt and glue trails.  I told them it works best when you place the dropper close the the glue and salt, because then it spreads along the line like magic.

It's a great project for exploring the properties of different materials, and the concept of absorption.
It is also great for fine motor skills, because the eyedroppers really help the children learn dexterity.

Marbeling Paper

I have been wanting to do marbeling with the kids for some time, and I was excited that we got to it this week.
I have marbeled paper a couple different ways, but this a simple technique for the kids.

Ahead of time I prepared the colors.  Take 1 tablespoon of cooking oil, and 1 teaspoon of food coloring and  then place it in a container with a lid.  Shake it up really well before using.
Use a large plastic tub with a little bit of water, about 1/2 inch.
Using eyedroppers, let this kids add the colors to the water

Once the disered colored oil combination is added, take a fork or some kind of tool that would move around the oil to create designs

Place paper in the pan for about 30 sec. and then slowly lift it up.

I used an old clothes drying rack as my paper drying rack, it works great!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Valentine's Day

I think the best way to celebrate Valentine's Day is to celebrate it with children.
They exude love daily, and most of the time without judgement, it is just there and it bubbles out of them.

Today we ate heart shaped pancakes, made Valentine's, sang songs, read stories, explored on the light table, made a second batch of crayons, danced, built forts, had a circus, played cars, built bird houses out of blocks, and was an exciting and fun filled day.
Here are some pictures of our projects from the day.  Some of these are from the days before Valentine's as well.

 Apple and Spelt Pancakes in  heart shapes.  For some reason I can't get
this picture to rotate, perhaps it would make us too hungry to see them
right side up!

An invitation to play with heart shaped gems on the light table.

Crayon Making
I saw this project posted on Pinterest and had to try it with the kids!

This is one of the crayons that did not melt all the way, but I love how it came out.

We started this project off by gathering our broken crayons as well as using some cheap crayons I purchased at the store.
I have never met a child who does not love to peel the paper off of crayons and break them,
An adult for that matter as well,  for if you saw my assistant and myself sitting with the kids, you would wonder who was more into this process.
With that said, have the children choose the colors they would like, and then peel the paper and break the crayons.  They should fill a small Dixie sized cup.

Using these rubber muffin tins, fill each slot with crayons.  I labeled the trays so we could keep track of each child's rainbow crayon.

Bake the crayons at 230 degrees for 15 minutes

Here are some of the finished projects.  Next time I would take out the dark crayons such as black and really dark blue because they over powered the other colors.

Yarn Hearts

This is a nice simple project, but it requires a couple days to dry.  I found this one in Family Fun.
You will need a heart cookie cutter, wax paper (I taped it down on card board), yarn cut into 10-12 inch strips, liquid starch and a pan to pour it in.

Have the children dip the yarn in the liquid starch and then squeeze some of it off between their fingers.  Then simply press the yarn into the cookie cutter shape.  Press down a couple times after all the yarn is in the cookie cutter so that the starch spreads over all the pieces.  Let dry a couple days, and then add a string to hang.

Valentine's Hearts

We love using eyedroppers at school, in particular when we color with washable markers and the let it bleed the colors into each other, today was no exception.
The results are beautiful

A heart after it has been colored with washable markers

It really is a fun and beautiful process watching the colors bleed together

After the heart dried, the children glued their pictures onto their hearts and then taking the glue bottle,
they drew a design with glue and sprinkled glitter all over the glue.  Again, this is a school favorite, because there seems to be magic in glitter.

I would say it was a very lovely Valentine's Day