Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Colored rice sensory work

We have many students who are still working to learn their colors. One way we facilitate color practice is in our sensory bin. This month our color of focus is yellow. Last week we made yellow rice. The directions are the same as dying beans.

We put different "hidden items" in the rice each week. Last week we were studying the story of Goldilocks and the 3 Bears. We hid some yellow plastic bears in the rice for the kids to discover. This week we are working with the 5 senses, so we hid so giant googly eyes in the rice.

Other ideas:
-plastic letters/numbers
-small animal toys
-colored wooden beads
-small plastic people figures
-small cars

Anything small! The kids love to dig out the hidden items and then re-hide them!
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Fine motor work that SPARKLES!

My partner teacher bought a big bag of jewels to use in our classroom for various projects. The jewels are right around an inch (average--as they are all different shapes). I put out one fine motor work station that involves simply dropping the jewels into a bottle.

To take into consideration:
-find a bottle that will make this challenging yet appropriate for the specific child. My students are 3 and 4, so they are ready for something a little more difficult. I found a bottle with a neck that just barely allows all of the jewels to fit inside. This requires a great deal of precision to fit the jewels inside, and some of the jewels (heart, etc.) have to be rotated the right way to fit. Younger children could fit the jewels into a larger-necked bottle.

-make sure all the jewels you put out will fit inside, unless you want the child to sort by "jewels that fit" and "jewels that don't fit"

-you're promotiong fine motor development (wrist control, hand-eye coordination, pincer grasp, arm strength), spatial awareness and exploration of different shapes.

This is a popular work item with our kiddos--they love working with the sparkly jewels!

I believe the jewels were bought at Hobby Lobby!
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Monday, September 27, 2010

Texture Board

This semester I am covering for the infant teacher for an hour every day so she can have her lunch break. During that time, I am constantly scoping her room for all her great ideas to share with my readers! Here's a new one she put up today:


She cut white cardboard (heavy cardstock, back of cereal boxes, shirt boxes, etc.) into squares and rectangles.

She hot-glued different textures onto the cardboard. She used a lot of glue, especially around the edges and worked to pull the materials tight, so hopefully there are no lifted-up areas that encourage the babies to pull them off. But if they do, no sweat. Just pull out that trusty hot glue gun!

She cut textures from materials she had around her house or begged off of other teachers--she didn't buy a thing!
From left to right, top to bottom.

Gold heavy tissue paper that crinkles when you touch it, pink shaggy piece from an old bathroom rug, brown shaggy fur from a repurposed stuffed animal, tin foil, burlap, gold shiny fabric, yellow mesh--maybe tulle?, white satin fabric with a pattern.

These are the textures she happened to have....anything would work! Raid your trash bin and I bet you could find plenty of great textures!

She then mounted the cardstock pieces on a sheet of black posterboard (love the contrast!!) and mounted on the wall at the babies' eye level, where they would be encouraged to stand/sit and touch the textures.

This is a free/very cheap activity that provides great opportunities for introducing touch vocabulary--describe what each piece feels like as your child touches it. Does it make a sound? Talk about this, too! Touch different body parts to the textures--elbow to rug, nose to satin, etc.

LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this!!!!
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Bean Shaker helps prepare future writers!

Really? Shaking dry pinto beans out of an empty parmesan cheese can helps children prepare to write?
Yep! One of the major skills children must master before they are ready to write is wrist control. They have to have enough strength to keep their wrist in the writing position, apply proper pressure on the writing utensil, and do all this while moving their wrist across the page AND holding it up off the paper. Bet you didn't remember it being that complicated, did you! :)

In preschool we work hard to get our children ready to write. One area we focus intently is upon fine motor--namely wrist control. BUT....we also want to keep our children motivated through fun.

Let me tell you, they LOVE this activity. We just fill the empty parm cheese shaker with dried beans. We teach them how to open the side with the large holes and shake the beans into a small box. This teaches the children to be precise in their wrist movements. Notice this little guy is still using two hands together. Over time he will develop stronger wrists and more control and be able to use one hand to shake the beans out.

Once the beans are all shaken out, we teach the children to open the other side--which is just an open compartment--and use their pincer grasp to put the beans back into the jar. This allows them to practice the grasp they will use to hold a pencil and sharpen their hand-eye coordination as they fit the beans into a small space.

My 2 year old toddler works on this activity (with just a small amount of beans) and we give our 3 year olds at school slightly more beans to work with.

Plus the sound the beans make when the jar is shaken--beautiful! Definitely part of the appeal.
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Shape and Letter traces

One activity we do all the time with our preschoolers (3's) is tracing the perimeter of shapes with tactile objects. For this particular project (we were focusing on circles at the particular time), the children glued dried beans around a drawn circle (predrawn by the teacher/parent). We had a variety of levels of "gluers" for this activity--for some of our kids they were able to trace the circle perimeter with the liquid glue bottle all on their own. Others needed some hand-over-hand help squeezing the bottle. For our young-uns/inexperienced glue-ers we applied the glue for them and let them focus on applying the beans. We talked to them and modeled gluing the next bean against the one before so as to not leave any gaps.

Our kids love this type of activity. It's rhythmic, soothing, and allows them to learn the properties of shapes through their tactile modalities.

It addresses:
-fine motor skills (picking up small beans and setting them down, squeezing the glue bottle and tracing a line with glue)
-geometric awareness
-art (see below accomodations)
-spatial awareness (applying beans against one another)

Other accomodations we make:
-glue other objects--buttons, beads, pasta, cereal pieces, torn scraps of paper, hole-punched circles, round dot circles, BINGO dauber from Dollar Store, etc. Really the possibilities are endless.

-you can color your beans/pasta--mix together 3 T rubbing alcohol with enough food coloring to get the desired brightness in a glass jar with a lid. Add pasta/beans and shake until coated with color. Pour out on layered newspaper (may want to do this outside so you don't stain your counter! I'd also recommend wearing plastic gloves so your hands don't end up colored!!) Allow to dry for several hours, and once dry the alcohol makes the pasta/beans colorfast!!
***this means you could make several colors of beans/pasta and let the child apply colors as desired

We trace each shape several times with various mediums.

We also use the same process for gluing objects on letters--of course starting with the first letter of the child's name!!
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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Sponge painting...the cheap way!

*Dollar store pack of sponges
*dampen one
*cut into focus shape with a sharp pair of scissors (or letter or number...)
*dip into paint and stamp away!
*can also clip on a clothespin to make a handle, however I haven't had great luck with this--comes off easily, and I also think it's good grasping and fingertip (fine motor) practice for the children to hold the sides of the sponge.
*great for making cute wrapping paper!
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We buy bulk glitter at school. It's cheaper. And when it gets shaken out all over the table, we just pour it back the teacher I worked with shared this great tip for making your own little shakers.

She just filled a tiny paper cup (you could use a small tupperware container, a large lid, etc.) with some glitter, wrapped it in foil and then used some pointy scissors to make holes all over the top.

The great thing is you can make the holes as big or small as you want--depending on how fast you want the glitter to come out!

You could make the same thing for shaking out tiny confetti, small beans, beads, etc. This is great fine motor work, as it uses the child's wrist movement.

I loved a new twist on glittering, and it's great for kids to experience the same art medium in different ways!
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