Snowflake Catching Necklaces

img_0609

I had this brainstorm a few years ago when I was outside with my son. We were trying to catch snowflakes on black felt and black construction paper but they kept bending in half and blowing in the wind. My son had his mittens on so he was even more frustrated by not being able to hold the paper well.

That’s when it hit me, I need to make some “Snowflake Catching Necklaces”!

I wanted something that could hang around his neck so when he lost interest it could just hang there. I also wanted it to be firm enough that it wouldn’t fold or bend. I decided an old CD with a ribbon attached could fit this purpose.

To make them I covered one side with dark colored felt. The felt works well because it’s fuzzy texture kind of makes the snowflakes stand up so you can view it from multiple angles. I also made sure that the ribbon was long enough to easily fit over a hood or hat since these will be used while we have our big winter coats on.

For the reverse side of the snowflake catchers I have made a couple of different versions:
* For some I added a felt pocket where a magnifying glass could be stored. To make it more portable, I attached a plastic magnifying glass onto another ribbon so it would all stay together. (This option proved a little hard for 3 year olds to operate though.)
* Another idea was to draw a few types of common snowflakes to use as a quick reference.
* My favorite choice for preschoolers is to the leave the back side blank so they have a “mirror”. They like to check themselves, especially if they are trying to catch falling snowflakes on their tongues! This mirror would also be fun to show them how to make reflections with the sun and send an S.O.S. message!

Class set for my preschoolers…now if only we could have a nice snowfall!

Happy Snowflake Catching! Be sure to look up the life story of Snowflake Bentley, whose passion was catching and photographing snowflakes!

I also have a great Pinterest board of fun ideas to do outdoors in winter!

Save

Advertisements

Sensory Exploration: Touch

Outdoor Discovery Time– I love connecting what we are learning to meaningful and real experiences outdoors. So when learning about the sense of touch, I love to my children on a “Finding Textures Walk”. In fact, I feel like I can relate most things that I am teaching about to a nature walk. What is fun about nature walks is there is always something new to discover, and it take no ‘prep work’ on the teacher’s part. Do our walks fail sometimes? Absolutely, but isn’t failing also a great life lesson?

For our “Finding Textures Walk” we used our hands to explore different objects in our surroundings. The language and expressions that children come up with for different objects is inspiring and humorous. Recording the children’s dialogue while they are exploring, and then revisiting that dialogue back at a group meeting is a wonderful way to reflect on their experiences.

What might you find on a texture walk? Crunchy snow, slick ice, sticky pine cones, rough and bumpy bark, smooth and paper-like bark, prickly pine needs, thorny bushes, cold hard rocks, and the list is endless.

Ask your children…can you find something smooth? rough? hard? soft? bumpy? cold?

 

Gross Motor Activities

Sensory Obstacle Course: whether indoors or outside, you can set up an obstacle course that features many different types of textures. Spend time looking at the outdoor play toys to find a variety of materials to include. Ideas might include: hard stepping stone, nubby texture balls, squishy foam ball, lightweight scarves, bouncy playground balls, heavy medicine ball, coarse surface on the step aerobics step, smooth wooden balance beam, bouncy trampoline, soft pillows, dense gym mats, spinning sit and spin, wobbly balance board, hard river stone steps, and the list goes on.

Parachute Play: A fun way to explore the sense of touch is to put different types of materials onto the parachute to see how they react to our shaking them: foam balls vs plastic squish ball, juggling scarves, bean bags, plastic golf balls, ping pong balls, etc

Tag: We need our sense of touch in order to play tag. With preschoolers, I find tag is much more fun if there is a way to become un-frozen so that play can continue.

Princess and the Pea: gather up a bunch of pillows and a small firm ball and play a version the classic fairy tale. Many children are not familiar with this tale, so be sure to read a version or two before trying to play the game!

Dramatic Play

Add a wide variety of dress up clothes made of different materials. Prior to putting the new clothes at the center, explore the materials at circle time and discuss how they feel. I especially like to include ethnic clothes such as a silky kimono, woven Guatemalan skirts, or a wool vest.

Science Center

Explore Textures with Natural Materials: gather a variety of materials for children to explore. Acorns, bark, branches, feathers, flowers, horsetail, leaves, seeds, pods, pebbles, pine needles, pinecones, shells, spiky burdock burrs, and small tree cookies. Sweet gum balls are not native to my area, but I have a small collection that we gathered on a trip. My students are fascinated by them since they have never seen them before and they are so spiky.

I also have a great collection of pine cones from the teeny tiny Hemlock cones to a gigantic cone that a Grandma in my program donated years ago. Kids are amazed at how different the pinecones can be, and often are inspired to start their own collections.

Fabric Texture Match Ups: Cut out two swatches from a variety of fabrics. Children can practice matching the fabric swatches. Then provide a blindfold and have the children match with only their sense of touch.

Texture Collage Board: Send home a note explaining that we are learning about textures and invite parents to help their child to glue a bunch of the same items to the cardboard piece enclosed. Once the collage boards are returned, keep them at the science center for children to explore.

 

Language and Literacy

Building Our Descriptive Words using the “Mystery Box” “We’ve been learning about our sense of Touch. We are going to use our sense of touch to figure out what is in our Mystery Box.” We will do the mystery box each day during the time we are exploring our senses (or as long as it’s interesting). Use common objects from the classroom that would be easy to identify: ball, train car, paint brush, bell, cookie cutter, dollhouse furniture, thick crayon, mini binoculars, plush owl, and a block.            To make the Mystery Box I took a medium sized coffee can and stretched a black knee-high nylon on the top. It held on great and the kids could reach their hand all the way inside to feel the object but could not pull it out! The nylon was dark enough that they couldn’t see the object either!

 

Tactile Letters, Names or Sight Words – depending on what your children are working on, you could create either sand paper letters or words. Use white glue and play sand to make each child’s name, letters, or sight words.

 

Writing CenterRubbings– cut out a variety of shapes from cardstock, paper doilies, or sandpaper. For young children, tape the shapes to the table so it won’t shift. Show the children how to place a piece of thin white copy paper over the shapes and rub with a thick crayon. (Note: the tape does show up in the rubbing, so if the children have the dexterity to hold the paper down without tape, the results might be better.

These types of rubbings are great to do throughout the year – we explore leaves, cloud shapes, geometric shapes, hearts, egg shapes, and a variety of holiday shapes. This builds fine motor skills and is often exciting for children as the mystery picture is revealed!

Art Projects

img_3474

Sensory Texture Painting – put tempera paint in paint cups and add one of the following to each cup: coffee grounds, crumbled leaves, coarse salt, and sand.

Since this paint is thicker, you might want to use it to paint onto card stock, recycled cereal boxes, or corrugated cardboard. While painting, encourage the kids to use descriptive words for how the paint feels & what they see.

Paint in groups at the table to encourage dialogue between students! You could also provide a variety of things to use as paintbrushes – sponges, toothbrushes, cotton balls, forks, toothpicks, pipe cleaners, and Popsicle sticks to make their own special textures.

img_3488

Easel painting – open the easel after the art project at the tables is done, use the same paint cups with textured paints. Cut out the shape of an over sized hand for the kids to paint! (Granted, the red paint looks a bit creepy dripping down. Think I’d offer a variety of colors next time.)

Finger Painting: What’s the best way to explore the sense of touch…FINGER PAINT! Offer the three primary colors and slick finger painting paper, and then watch the fun exploration begin!

img_3467

Textured Alphabet Letter Boards: give each child a small piece of corrugated card board that is cut out in the shape of their first initial. Lay out a variety of materials: sand paper, aluminum foil, lace doilies, cloth, string, curling ribbon, crinkled gift bag stuffing, cotton balls, painted paper scraps, etc. The children paint on watered down glue and select items to make their own textured board. Display them on the bulletin board. (Perhaps make an entire alphabet to display in your classroom!)
Fine Motor Skills

Draw on Your Partner’s Back – explain to children that they are going to use their finger to draw a simple shape on their friends back and then the friend guesses the shape.

Princess and the Yarn – place a short piece of yarn under several sheets of copy paper. Have the children try to find the yarn and trace it with their finger. Then peek under the paper to see if they found it in the right place. (If this is challenging, try it with just one sheet of paper at first or use tracing paper which is slightly transparent.)

Sandpaper and Yarn – show the children how to use small pieces of yarn to ‘draw’ on the sandpaper. The yarn sticks to sandpaper so their picture will stay without any glue or tape.

Play Dough Center 

Cloud Dough: Mix 8 cups of flour and 1 cup of vegetable oil in a large bin. This is a wonderful texture for the children to squish, mold, and play with!

DIY Play Dough Tools: Have the children help you create popsicle sticks with a variety of materials glued on such as beads, buttons, large sequins, fuzzy sticks, and glue designs. Once the materials are dry, have the children add them to the play dough to explore what types of imprints are made when the sticks are squished into the dough.

Nature Texture Impressions: offer a several natural materials for children to squish into play dough to explore textures

Clay vs. Play dough: children who have never played with clay before will be surprised how hard it is to squish and mold. Compare clay to play dough and talk about the differences in texture.

Water Table

Nature Stew: a fun way to explore textures is to gather some materials from outdoors and add them to the water table – flowers, leaves, pine cones, rocks, and bark all offer great exploration and imaginative play for making stew! Offer a ladle, bowls, and some soup spoons too!

Dissolving Salt: Salt has a great texture to examine, especially when you have a variety of coarseness to explore. Offer some small containers, water, and spoons for the children to try to dissolve the salt.

 

Warm Water vs. Cold Water Test – in the middle of water table put a medium sized bowl with very warm water. In the rest of the table, add cold water a few ice cubes and several large ice blocks.

Sensory Play

Sensory Texture Bin: wide selection of objects that have various textures (Soft: feathers, tulle, foam curlers, tissue paper balls. Hard: wooden bracelets, plastic curlers, rocks, popsicle sticks, plastic credit cards. Stretchy: plastic necklaces, rubber bands. (For this bin I also kept the color scheme to yellow, blue, and white since I will use the same materials for our SIGHT theme. That day we will sort objects in the bin by color.)

img_3486

Cooked spaghetti: I don’t use food often for play in my classroom, but the explore the texture of cooked spaghetti is quite fun when exploring the sense of touch. I like to cook two boxes and then divide it into six bowls. For each bowl I use food coloring to make the colors of the rainbow. As the children play with it, the colors all get mixed up.

Sensory Bin Base Materials that are Non-Food Items: shredded paper, pea gravel or aquarium gravel, snow, ice cube, pom poms, cotton balls, yarn, buttons, silk flowers, sand or colored sand, salt, dried herbs, and pinecones. Of course there are endless choices, so use what you have!

“Mess Free Paint Bags”: Seal gallon sized Ziploc bags with different colored tempera paint. Encourage mark making, name writing, and picture drawing in the bags. These are also fun to explore by taping to a window or patio door, since the light makes different effects on the paint.

Texture Tray: use a compartmented tray (like a veggie tray) – put out a variety of objects and help the kids sort the objects by similar texture (aluminum foil, sand paper, onion bag, feathers, double sided tape, salt dough ornament, sock, felt, cork, dried herbs, bark, pine cone, leaves, sponge, silk, and construction paper.)

Soft & Hard Sort Bins: using the same objects in the sensory texture bin, have students sort by soft/hard.
Blocks & Building

Adding fabric to the block center is a great way to offer a different texture to explore. Also offering a variety of small world play props such as plastic animals, wooden people, or metal cars can add variety as well.

 

Math Activities

Children need hands-on manipulatives to learn early math skills. Offer them a variety of natural materials such as shells or rocks to give them a different experience than the plastic teddy bear counters.

Play dough Math Mats: children can create snakes to form their numerals, and create little balls to match the number. Google “play dough math mat” for free printables to add to your play dough center!

Textures Numerals: create numeral cards by using white glue and sand, these cards can be kept with the math materials for children to feel.

Sand Tray Numeral: Provide a shallow tray of sand and numeral cards for the children to copy in the sand

Dot Mats – draw the numeral and matching number of dots, then the child uses pebbles to put on the dots to match the numeral.

 

Bulletin Board Ideas                   

In the Science Center section, I mentioned making “Texture Collage Boards” as a home/school project. Instead of putting these at the science center, create a “Texture Wall” as a fun collaborative bulletin board full of different textures for the children to touch and explore!

Thematic Healthy Snacks

Texture Snack: Ask families to send in snacks that have various textures. One year my preschoolers were shocked to find out that they loved seaweed and some only tried it because we were doing a texture investigation at snack time!

Mealtime: “What textures do we have on our plates?” Bring the children’s attention to the foods we serve and name the textures. These conversations boost their vocabulary and may also get them to try a food that they haven’t explored yet. “I spy a food that is crunchy!”

Books for teaching about Touch:

I Touch (Baby Beginner Board Books) by Helen Oxenbury

Quack! Quack! A Touch and Feel Book by Lousie Rupnik

Soft and Smooth, Rough and Bumpy: A Book About Touch by Dana Meachen Rau

Spiky, Slimy, Smooth: What is Texture by Jane Brocket

The Princess and the Pea by Carol Ottolenghi

Touch & Feel books

Touch (Five Senses Series) by Maria Rius

Touching (The Five Senses) by Rebecca Rissman

What I Touch (My Five Senses) by Alex Appleby

 

Check out my Pinterest board for even more Five Senses teaching ideas!

 

 

Senses Exploration: Taste

Oh the many ways we can explore our sense of TASTE!

Outdoor – Since I love integrating nature into my teaching with young children, I always include an outdoor learning activity into my curriculum. For our sense of taste, I asked my children,  “What are some things that we find outdoors that have flavors?” And even in the middle of winter in Vermont, my two children and I went on a walk in the yard and woods around our home and found several things that we could taste.

Research – We began our discussion about our sense of taste. What part of our body helps us taste? We looked in a resource book to see that our tongue we have taste buds and found that different foods have different flavors – salty, sweet, sour, & bitter. My children were interested to learn that our tongue has different areas that taste these different flavors.

Active Game: Play “Simon Says Flavor Game” If you like the flavor of — jump up and down. If you don’t like the flavor cross your arms. (No on gets out- it’s more just a survey of what kids think they like and dislike.)

ArtPizza Pies – children paint a paper plate with red colored glue and then sprinkle on a variety of herbs and spices. This was the first time we made these and the garlic salt made the whole room smell like a pizza shop! YUM!

Math Activity: Apple Jacks Pattern Necklaces – Tape one end of a piece of yarn to the table and wrap the other end so it’s easier to thread. Provide each child with a measured amount of cereal, which they can finish their necklace with or TASTE. I added a photocopy of a tongue about mid-way of their threading. The kids thought the tongues were really silly – next year I would like to draw on a picture to go with the flavor word!

Science Center: Tongue Mapping – I read about a family doing a tongue mapping activity and thought I would give it a go at preschool. Not all the kids got the idea that they were to touch a specific part of their tongue but they all enjoyed trying out a variety to flavors.  Each child got their own tray: salty= salt, sweet = sugar, sour = lemon, bitter = unsweetened cocoa. I planned on giving a fresh q-tip for each flavor but the kids just started dipping away! If I do this again, I would do it in small groups instead of all together! See the link at the end of this post for the printable to use with this activity.

Dramatic Play – kitchen set up with a large variety of foods!

Water Table – plastic foods to wash in water table along with a variety of spoons, cups, strainers, scoops, etc.

Sensory Table– beans, various cups, funnels, spoons, etc.

Writing Center – provide grocery store circulars and food magazines for kids to cut. Encourage them to glue pictures of foods that they like the taste of to a paper plate.

Closing Circle– “What is something you learned about TASTE today?” Pass around the Surprise Box with a fresh orange inside!

Books for the sense of taste:

Food Alphabet by David Drew

Green Eggs and Ham  by Dr. Seuss

Mouths Are For Smiling: The Sense of Taste  by Katherine Hengel

Tasting (The Five Senses) by Rebecca Rissman

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

What Do I Taste? by Annie Kubler

Yoko by Rosemary Wells (great message about diversity through food)

You Can’t Taste a Pickle with Your Ear by Harriet Ziefert

 

 

Other Taste Test Ideas for future lessons:

Taste bud Taste Test: salty – pretzels, sweet – honey, sour- lemon, bitter- unsweetened cocoa. Talk about which of the foods they like the best.

Tasting Party – have each child bring in a food to share. Serve small portions of each food. (The teacher could assign foods instead so a wider variety of foods would be sampled.) Suggest that families bring a food that is sweet, salty or sour such as fruits, vegetables, pickles, crackers, flavored cereal, etc. Children could sort them by taste or by texture (soft, chewy, crispy). Graph foods that the children liked the most.
“Bring two foods that look similar but taste very different (orange and lemon, sugar and salt, yogurt and sour cream, etc.) Put them in plates next to each other. Let your children use their 5 senses to try to determine which is which. Asked the children to describe how the substances smell, feel, look, sound (as you gently shake the plate) and finally taste.” idea from http://www.everythingpreschool.com/themes/fivesenses/science.htm

3 different clear liquids – sweet sugar water, salty salt water, and sour lemon juice!

Popcorn Varieties: Make three types of popcorn – one with brown sugar, one with salt, and one with lemon. The children taste each of the popcorn flavors and decide which their favorite is. Make a chart to show which is the favorite flavor.

On-line resources & ideas for teaching about TASTE:

The tongue mapping activity here – http://www.raisingthecameronclan.com/homeschooling/2012/01/30/tongue-mapping/

 

Check out my pinterest board for more 5 senses activities!

 

 

Senses Exploration: Sight

There are so many wonderful ways to explore our sense of sight….

Outdoor Activity – make pretend Binoculars by using hot glue to attach two toilet paper tubes together and add a string. Though these binoculars do not make objects appear closer, they do help children focus in on objects. Can you spy a squirrel nest? Can you find a pine cone still hanging in the tree?

Scavenger Hunt using pictures of things we can find outside in our courtyard we used our sense of SIGHT to find: spider web, bird, snow, ice, icicle, tree, fence

Eye Themed Snack – a fun little snack one of the my preschool parents came up with years ago– dehydrated apple ring with an apricot and raisin!

Guided Activity“Secret Message Hearts” – ahead of time I cut out heart shapes and with a white crayon wrote each child’s name onto them. Then they used water colors to reveal the hidden message. I had extra heart cut-outs and crayons available for them to design their own too!

Puzzles / Games – several different I Spy books & games available; Kaleidoscopes; Sunglasses, 3D glasses,  glasses with no lenses for pretend play, View-Master

ArtSelf Portraits using a 3 sided mirror. Children would look at themselves and then draw the details of their faces.

 

Science Center: “Sight Station”- illuminated magnifying glass and I-Spy pictures; microscope with simple slides, Paint chip book to view various shades of color, unbreakable mirror, hand-held magnifying glasses.

I was planning on having the children make their own “red vision tubes” but somehow have run out of toilet paper and paper towel tubes. How can that be?!?  I made just one to share by covering a paper towel tube with red cellophane over one end.

Water Table – rainbow colors using several plastic containers filled with water & liquid water colors. What do we SEE when the colors mix together?

Sensory Table– an “I Spy” sensory bin for the kids to play with each other. “I see something yellow and small.” I also added the bingo cards from an “I Spy ABC Bingo Game” and foam alphabet letters from a puzzle. I thought kids might like to LOOK for matching pairs or to sort by color!

Closing Circle– pass around the red vision tube. What part of our body helps us to see? When we look through the tube why do we see red? Why do people wear glasses?

Read aloud: Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do you See?

Home Connection:  a fun at home activity that reinforces our “Sight” would be to print this Dora themed vision chart. It’s like the test a doctor gives but instead of the letter E it’s the Dora characters in varying sizes. http://www.nickjr.com/printables/dora-eye-chart.jhtml

 

Books for the sense of sight:

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do you See? by Bill Martin & Eric Carle

Eye to Eye: How Animals see the World by Steve Jenkins

I Can Read with My Eyes Shut by Dr. Suess

I Spy Books by Jean Marzollo

Look!: A Book about Sight by Dana Meachen Rau

Seeing by Rebecca Rissman

Seven Blind Mice by Ed Young

The Eye Book by Dr. Suess

 

Check out my pinterest board for even more ideas about teaching about the 5 senses!