The materials we choose to bring into our classroom reveal the choices we have made about knowledge and what we think is important to know. How children are invited to use the materials indicates the role they shall have in their learning. Materials are the text of early childhood classrooms.
Unlike books filled with facts and printed with words, materials are more like outlines. They offer openings and pathways by and through which children may enter the world of knowledge. Materials become the tools with which children give form to and express their understanding of the world and the meanings they have constructed.
It is for this reason that almost all of our thematic activities are hands-on. We often integrate manipulatives, story trays, and natural materials to help your little one gain an understanding of the theme of the week.
For this activity, we used toy creatures and pictures of different habitats to practice comparing and contrasting environments. Students were given four different pictures. One included a picture of a desert, another a picture of a jungle, another a picture of an arctic scene, and finally a picture of a savannah. Students were then invited to sort and place their creatures in the environment that their creature might prefer.