Snow Slime

From birth through to early childhood, children use their senses to explore and try to make sense of the world around them. They do this by touching, tasting, smelling, seeing, moving and hearing.

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Providing opportunities for children to actively use their senses as they explore their world through ‘sensory play’ is crucial to brain development – it helps to build nerve connections in the brain’s pathways.

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This leads to a child’s ability to complete more complex learning tasks and supports cognitive growth, language development, gross motor skills, social interaction and problem solving skills.

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To help your little one learn more about winter, we created our very own snow slime! Using saline solution, glue, glitter, and toy animals, students loved manipulating their sticky goo, and creating a variety of experiences for their creatures!

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Santa’s Village: Small World Play

Small world play is acting out scenarios (scenes from real life, stories and/or imagination) in a miniature play scene, created with small figures and objects.Small worlds are often set up in a certain theme (construction area, pirates at sea, ducks in a pond) that are relevant and meaningful to the child at the time and they usually include a sensory element (water, sand, dry pasta, leaves, …) which adds more layers to the play.

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As with any kind of play, there are numerous ways in which small world play supports your child in it’s development. By providing children with opportunities to re-enact certain experiences, you are helping then to reflect on feelings and events in life in a safe way. While engaged in small world play, children can explore and experiment with different emotions and act out these scenes in their play.

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Small world play invites children to be creative, and boosts confidence when children are able to experiment with different (both new and familiar) materials and build something they think is awesome. It is also an excellent way to practice social skills (when for instance building a small world on a play date) where children can connect with each other and learn to take turns, listen to someone else’s ideas, compromise and so on.

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There are always many problems to solve in small worlds (“Not all the dinosaurs fit in my cave!”) and children learn how to work through these by reasoning and experimenting. Small world play helps to develop numeracy by giving lots of opportunities for grouping or sorting items and counting them (“How may small dinosaurs do you have? How many do go in your cave?” “Now, how many are left?”) Small world play is great for building language because it allows children to practice their language in a meaningful context. While playing, children are vocalising and learning about nouns, verbs, adjectives and prepositions and so on (“parking the red truck next to the yellow tractor”).

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Through small world play children get to learn about cause and effect while experimenting and manipulating different items (“letting a car go down a slope will make it go faster”). Children also get the chance to explore certain ideas in the world, like how a hospital would operate differently from a police station or a school and why. Children as young as 2 years old can engage in (simple) small world play and start telling their own stories.

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As part of our Christmas week, we constructed our very own version of Santa’s Village! Students used a variety of sensory materials to accomplish this. The figures utilized were one Santa and three elves made out of blocks. There were also polar bears and even a narwal that landed themselves in our village! In addition to this, we constructed log cabins out of Lincoln Logs and made it snow with flour!

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Bodies are water were created with blue glitter, and students delighted in making their figures and animals go swimming! Lastly, students decorated the landscape with toy candy canes and icicles.

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Circular Wreaths

The origin of the Christmas wreath dates back to the ancient times of the Persian Empire. During that time, wreaths were believed to be a symbol of importance as well as success.

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They were much smaller in size than the present ones and were known as ‘diadems’. Only the royal and upper class members of the society used to wear the wreaths as headbands, sometimes along with jewels.

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It is believed that other cultures became fascinated with this tradition of wearing wreaths and adopted them into their respective cultures. Somewhere around 776 BC, Greeks started placing wreaths made of laurel on the heads of the athletes who came first in the Olympic Games.

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Very soon, important military and political leaders of Roman Empire started wearing wreaths. One popular example from ancient Rome is Julius Caesar, who used to wear wreath on his head, just like the crown of a king.  The transition of the wreaths from a headgear to a wall/door decoration is not known with much accuracy. However, it is believed that once an athlete decided to save the headgear as a souvenir of his/her victory and since then began the tradition of using wreaths as a Christmas door/wall decoration.

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The tradition of using evergreen branches as a material in wreaths is influenced by the Egyptian, Chinese and Hebrew cultures who believed that evergreen branches are a symbol of eternal life. With the passage of time, the custom of Christmas wreath became an important tradition widely followed by people from different parts of the world.

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As part of our Christmas week, we enjoyed exploring the different decorations and learning about the history behind them! For this project specifically, students were broken up into groups of two. They were then instructed to trace a circle that was drawn onto the sidewalk with chalk. Lastly, they were instructed to place their wreath segments onto the circle!

Bear Dens

Bears den in a variety of places.  They investigate possible den sites throughout the summer.

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If a bear is disturbed during the winter, it will often move directly to another den. Standing hollow trees are favorite denning spots, but few trees are allowed to reach the mature stage at which the center rots and becomes hollow.

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Such trees can be found in portions of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area in northeastern Minnesota, especially where they were fire-scarred a half century or more ago.

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Rock crevices and caves are also used as dens, and these can remain useable for centuries, but usually not by the same bear

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Dens are also dug into hillsides or under the root system of a tree.  These dens may be dug during the summer months, long before they are needed.

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Dug dens often collapse after use and therefore are seldom reused. As part of our Bear week, we created bear caves using sand blocks, soil, rocks, and pine cones. Everyone enjoyed manipulating the blocks to create the perfect home!

 

Fox Burrows

Foxes live in forested areas, but they are also found in mountains, grasslands and deserts.

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They make their homes by digging burrows in the ground.

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These burrows, also called dens, provide a cool area to sleep, a good location to store food and a safe place to have their pups.

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Burrows are dug-out tunnels that have rooms for the fox and its family to live in.

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The burrows also have several exits so that they can flee if a predator enters the burrow.

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As part of our Fox week, we created our very own burrows using a few key ingredients.

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These include toy foxes, wood chips, artificial grass, rocks, and pine cones!

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Everyone enjoyed creating little scenarios with their dens, seeing all of the different ways they could create a home for their foxes!

Fox Puzzles

One way to put your  child’s mind to work is with the continued exposure to puzzles!

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Children of all ages can gain benefits from playing with puzzles.

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These brain-building activities help develop cognitive and fine-motor skills, foster cooperative play and spur problem-solving prowess.

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Not only are puzzles a perfect way to spend some quality time together, but kids feel proud of themselves for completing one.

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Better yet, they’re an interactive way to teach colors, letters, numbers, shapes, animals and beyond.

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For this activity, we completed a fox puzzle!

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 Each puzzle had anywhere from three to seven pieces, and students were encouraged to try and work out the puzzles on their own.

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They were told to first count the pieces and then arrange them into a shape.

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Following the completion of the puzzles, students were instructed to try them again!

 

H-O-O-T Manipulatives

As early childhood education gains more attention on the national level, more attention is being paid to early literacy.

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Early childhood professionals have long recognized the importance of language and literacy in preparing children to succeed in school.

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Early literacy plays a key role in enabling the kind of early learning experiences that research shows are linked with academic achievement, reduced grade retention, higher graduation rates and enhanced productivity in adult life.

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In our classroom, we are constantly being exposed to letters.

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With a variety of play experiences, we gain an understanding of letters and their functions, and have fun while doing so!

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For this activity, we used manipulatives to spell the word HOOT.

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Using letters printed on cardstock, students matched the letters to identical letters printed on a mat.

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We discussed the sound each letter made, and then combined the sounds to create a word!

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Collaborative Owl Nests

Three dimensional media occupies space defined through the dimensions of height, weight and depth.

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It includes sculpture, installation and performance art, decorative art and product design.

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Two processes are responsible for all three dimensional art: additive, in which material is built up to create form, and subtractive, where material is removed from an existing mass, such as a chunk of stone, wood, or clay.

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The additive piece that we created involved a few key materials.

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With floor, twigs, feathers, googly eyes, and pipe cleaners, we assembled them to make two items: an owl and it’s nest.

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One great thing about children, is that they are always learning.

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And every experience is a learning opportunity ready to be absorbed.

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For this activity, we talked about opposites, specifically targeting the words, INSIDE, OUTSIDE, TOP, and BOTTOM.

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This activity was also broken up into four different days.

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On the first day, we talked about the anatomy of an owl. 

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We focused on saying that the eyes are “on top” and the legs are “on the bottom” of the owl. 

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We then used play dough, pipe cleaners, googly eyes, and feathers to create our very own owls! IMG_20191115_102354891The second day involved us creating individual nests for our owls.

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For this portion of our project, we stuck twigs and hay into play dough.

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We again talked about the words, INSIDE, OUTSIDE, TOP and BOTTOM.

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On the third day we created a large nest made of twigs, twine, wood chips, grass, and hay.

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Students then placed their owls and nests into the larger nest.

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For one last time,Following we visited the words INSIDE, OUTSIDE, TOP and Bottom. During each creation of each day, they were directed to place the materials. To incorporate the mathematical domain into our project, we also counted the total number of owls in the nest. 

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Lastly, they enjoyed displaying their nests for all to see!

GHOST Glitter Tracing

There are many activities children can enjoy that will improve their pre-writing skills. If you visit some of our other tracing activities, you’ll find lots of great information on the importance of pre-writing skills, what they are, and how to develop them.

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Tracing lines is just one way of helping children get ready to write.

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And they don’t even have to pick up a pencil to do it. It’s valuable to start out tracing with fingers because holding a writing tool can be tricky!

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So as part of our ghost theme, your little one participated in an activity that honed their tracing skills. With a few simple materials, we learned about the letters that make up the word GHOST.

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Throughout the week, we talked about the letter G.

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We then discussed the sounds that G made. Following this, we sung a song about the different words that start with G. Lastly, we used flower and glitter to trace G,H,O,S,T!

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Ghost Slime

Sensory activities play a key role in the maturation process of young children.

Activities that require manipulation and touch enable children to heighten the adaptive response through their senses.

They are an integral component in early childhood education.

They not only engage the child, but stimulate cognitive development.

To access this, your young one participated in an activity where they made ghost slime!

Using corn starch, googly eyes, water, and glitter, we manipulated and created various combinations to create the perfect consistency for our goo!