COUNTRY FUN

~ early education care ~ where our play supports our learning

January 28, 2016
by countryfun
Comments Off on A Snowball Sensory Box

A Snowball Sensory Box

Sensory play is not only fun, but it’s an important learning experience for young children. Today I brought out one of my winter sensory boxes. I think of this one as the “snowball box” because it’s all white and contains mostly round objects. The ribbon lengths add some of the glitter found with new snow.

To take this experience further I added some different tubes to the table. This group enjoys putting items into containers. They like to stack building blocks. They like to count. Knowing this and providing materials to support their interests, as I expected, the play changed.

To expand the learning I was able to direct the exploration into sizes and textures. We used different descriptive words starting from the concept of opposites. While exploring in this direction the children discovered that different sounds were occurring. They directed their learning at this point.

One simple sensory box =

  • cooperative play
  • fine motor
  • descriptive language
  • expressive language
  • self-esteem
  • math – shape, counting, volume
  • opposites/comparisons
  • sound
  • focus/attention span

One full morning of fun!

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As part of ongoing authentic assessment the videos here and additional ones taken will be used in planning future learning experiences and documented in ePortfolios connecting with the Maine Early Learning Developmental Standards (MELDS).

Here are 10 of the MELDS that were demonstrated this morning:

  1. Communicates math ideas verbally and non-verbally
  2. Recognizes the relationship between numbers and quantities
  3. Transitions from rote counting to 1:1 correspondence
  4. Matches similar shapes
  5. Explores three-dimensional and two-dimensional shapes in the environment
  6. Begins to speak audibly and, with prompting and support, express thoughts, feelings, and idea
  7. Chooses individual activities
  8. Develops increased capacity to share materials or caregiver/teacher’s attention
  9. Uses materials and equipment purposefully, safely and respectfully
  10. Explores objects and materials, and interacts with others in a variety of new settings

November 11, 2015
by countryfun
Comments Off on Supporting STEM with PVC Pipe

Supporting STEM with PVC Pipe

I love having a good variety of items available to build with within our space. Blocks offer incredible opportunities for learning.

DSC07099Today I brought our pvc pipe connector set inside to have available for indoor play during the winter. Of course, as soon as brought in, interested hands began to explore. For the youngest it was about taking in and out of the container. For the school-age it was about building a fort. (Interesting how inside and outside usage is different.)

DSC07101My challenge was to get the school-age to work through it not being about building the fort quickly, but to think/plan/try and solve. That means encouragement, guidance and keeping busy enough to not be able to place my hands on directly. Those clues or guidance were heard and the materials were organized/sorted to make easier to use.

DSC07102Then the first side was used to model the second.

 

 

 

 

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Solved that one cross brace would not hold the fort up or the structure together.  Needed 2.

Then how to move into place?  DSC07104

 

 

After fell apart when tried to move alone, asked directly for help as realized 1 on each side working together would move it in one piece.

 

 

Covered DSC07105 and using.DSC07106 Shortly joined by others.

This pvc connector set was low cost, easy to make, and offers great learning opportunities only limited by imaginations. I used 1″ pipe for strength. If making a set like this I strongly suggest purchasing a ratcheting pvc pipe cutting tool (under$15).

January 14, 2015
by countryfun
1 Comment

Making Our Own Body Part Game

I’m always on the look out for sites that will support the development of learning materials I can use with the children in my program. I do not purchase a curriculum, but prefer to construct my own around the interests and needed skill set of the children currently in care. My two go to sites are: 1) Pinterest – great resource for free and low cost materials and ideas, and 2) TeachersPayTeachers  where I continue to find free and low cost materials I can use as is.

Google Drive is my on-line depository for most of my curriculum materials – copy, store and print as need. Not only easy to use, but quicker and less physical storage space needed. Also great for sharing with parents and other early childhood educators.

Every now and then I have to do a wider on-line search to find the resources I need to complete an ideas for a lesson. Yesterday, I wanted an active body part game, but didn’t want to hand draw body parts and have no available flash cards. I found a site that let me pull pictures and print out a sheet/picture. I then copied the sheet, cut up the images and made 3″x3″ flipcards. I labeled each image (of course with help). Having the preschooler help with the labeling allowed her to see the connection between letters, words, writing, and language. Laminate the cards and we were ready to play.

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The first way we played was to chose an image on the sheet and then flip a card. You had to try to connect the 2 body parts picked. On the ones that we could not directly connect the children started to find other ways like touching a friend or placing hands on the 2 parts. Lots of  up and down moving, wiggling and laughing.

DSC06078 DSC06079

The next game try was to just flip 2 cards and try to connect the body parts. School-age involved now so even more movement. Lots of laughs when the younger remembered and solved one set by placing hands on the 2 body parts and standing there staring at the older ones twisting themselves around without success, until they saw her:)

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The new site I just chanced upon in a search for images of body parts to make a game is: LessonPix. I’m exploring with a free trial, before I spend $36 for annual membership. The site was developed by a special ed teacher and her husband with IT background.

  • Create custom materials such as Bingo, picture cards, coloring sheets, etc.
  • Clip art library with 1000’s of pictures
  • Use your own clip art or photos for custom materials
  • Download our clip art for your personal use in Word Documents, PowerPoint, etc.
  • Ideas on how to use LessonPix at home, in the classroom
  • Request pictures not available in picture library.

 

November 17, 2014
by countryfun
Comments Off on Playing with the ABC’s

Playing with the ABC’s

I love when a young learner finds their interest in the letters of the alphabet beyond just singing the song. That interest is shown in wanting to copy words found around the classroom, pointing out special letters in books reading, naming letters that star words we are talking about, adding additional words that start with the same letter, and playing the same ABC game over and over.

To support that interest and the emerging learner of even younger learners I have been trying to introduce new letter activities on a steady basis.

Two that have been enjoyed recently and repeatedly follow.

The first is a simple stamping with letter cookie cutters. The second is stenciling with cut-out letter stencils. Both activities started with a discussion of colors and color blending. Then letters from their names were used. Last was free choice of letters.

IMG_1208   IMG_1214  IMG_1209   IMG_1210  IMG_1213

The next activity could be said to have “popped” into my head. I was smiling as I rescued a nice circular piece of wood when cleaning out the garage. It was left-over from an engineering project of my college age son. It was too good to throw out and I knew I’d find a way to use it. Then came the “pop”. I had previously seen an activity come through on Pinterest from the Billings School Kindertips folder (now pinned to my ABC activity/games board) that showed ABC cards spread around a circular table top. The children sorted out ABC letters from the classroom to correspond with the letter cards. Now I’ve always done ABC paper plate wheels where you match up clothes pins, so this idea was really just taking it to the larger game play model, but without seeing that pin I might not have gone there.

The construction of the game was also a fun activity as I had help reminding me which letter needed to be written in the next space. The upper and lower case formation was also checked-on :). “R” could not wait to play, so out came a donated bag of mixed/matched magnetic letters. Lots of naming letters, coming up with words that start with each letter, labeling colors and up and down movement. The movement is what makes these larger games great to use with young children. It doesn’t get much better than learning while you’re moving.

 DSC05790  DSC05789DSC05791 We ended up with a wonderful rainbow sunburst of upper and lower case letters. To put away we counted the number of letters for each of the alphabet letters as we put them into the storage container. It was surprising how many had the same number of letters.

Both as a teacher and recycler, I couldn’t waste the reserve side of the wooden circle. That has our numbers through 15, plus twenty. Great for magnetic numbers, but even better for tower building.

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When older sibling arrives after school it becomes a team effort  and when completed “R” needs to “picture it”. IMG_1881

July 17, 2014
by countryfun
Comments Off on One Pool Noodle and (at least 2) Marbles = Science and Fun!

One Pool Noodle and (at least 2) Marbles = Science and Fun!

If you search pool noodles online you will find lots of creative ways to use this easy to find, low cost item with children. I have used for building blocks, ordering ABC’s and numbers, making obstacles courses, whack the beach ball…..

Using the marble raceway set recently reminded me of an idea I had seen where a large pool noodle was cut in half and used as a raceway.

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I just happen to have a few large noodles ready laying around and needing a new activity for another inside summer day I got it out. Pool noodles cut really easy with a serrated knife.

I cut completely through one side and then deeper so I was going part way into the opposite side. This allowed the pool noodle to open flat without separating into two pieces. (I taped for a bit more support as the noodle began to be bent in many directions)DSC05066

Then we just needed to add children, their creativity and marbles.

They found out they needed to capture the marbles and they needed a way to hold them at the top for an even start. I solved the start by cutting a slit across the noodle which would fit a jumbo craft stick.DSC05067 Perfect size for smaller fingers to handle – easy in and out.

IMG 1505 from Country Fun Child Care on Vimeo.

Many items have been used to capture the marbles as the children continue to explore the raceway.DSC05065

Where’s the science?

  • problem solving
  • discovering which size marble runs best and why
  • how curving the noodle affects run of the marbles
  • how angle (slope) of run affects speed
  • differences in number of marbles run together

September 23, 2013
by countryfun
Comments Off on Learning through Play

Learning through Play

As everyone here knows I believe that children learn best by being involved in what naturally occurs throughout their day as part of daily life and through their imaginative play.  It is also important for them to be involved with directed play also. A great way to incorporate that is through games, especially floor games.

As part of my effort to get my preschoolers ready for K next year we have set aside 2 mornings each week for more focused or structured learning time. This week I introduced them to a few of the styles of games they will be seeing through the year as we enrich our natural learning. These games are simple to make at home and year in and year out the kids love to play them.

A domino style:DSC03542

A lotto or bingo style:DSC03544

 

 

 

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