In our class, we provide environments that encourage and enhance problem solving.
It is for this reason that we often incorporate block play into our curriculum.
Block play encourages a child to test spatial relationships and mentally rotate objects in the mind’s eye.
Such practice might lead kids to develop superior spatial abilities.
Within our week of the polar bear, we constructed a variety of polar bear habitats using a variety of materials.
For this activity, we constructed habitats out of white blocks. Using their thinking minds, students created a variety of structures with their friends!
Different creatures survive in different types of habitats.
On this day your little one learned that habitats are environments that a particular plant or animal is perfectly suited for.
To learn some more about polar bears, we used this particular Tuesday morning to talk about the snow that surrounds them!
We then used insta-snow to create the perfect environment for our bears!
Children learn through experiences, and the earlier they are exposed to STEM-based hands-on learning experiences, the better.
Engineering activities, by their nature, are an inquiry-based pedagogical strategy that promotes learning across disciplines. Engineering curricula introduces students of all ages to everyday applications of science, mathematics, technology and engineering that match their values and view of the world.
This, and many of our other activities are designed to engage students in hands-on STEM experiences in order to improve their understanding of fundamental concepts in a way that capitalizes upon their design, visualization, creativity and teamwork skills and yearnings.
For this STEM activity, students created white structures out of cups. These structures symbolized glaciers and other snow-topped bodies of land that surround polar bears. Using their hands, they stacked the cups in various formations and then stuck their bears into the middle. It was so much fun seeing what everyone came up with!
A sensory activity is anything that involves the 5 senses (taste, touch, smell, hearing, sight) and also the vestibular or proprioception systems.
Sensory activities for children can be messy, engaging, fun, and easy to put together.
As part of our polar bear theme, your little one engaged in a variety of sensory activities throughout the week.
For this one, students combined different ingredients to make polar bear “snow.” Using shaving cream, glitter, and flour, students both mixed and played with their new “snow”.
A polar bear’s fur is made up of two layers – an outer layer, with long ‘guard’ hairs, and a thick undercoat, with shorter hair. The outer layer of hair is clear – and a polar bear’s skin is black. Polar bears evolved to have black skin, as the color is the best for absorbing energy from the sun.
This is because objects that appear black don’t reflect any light – and as polar bears are found in countries around the Arctic Circle – Canada, Russia, Alaska in the US, Greenland and Norway – the colder conditions require as much sunlight as possible to be absorbed when it’s available.
The clear fur allows this sunlight to get to the skin – but it still looks white, so that the bear can blend in with its environment of ice and snow. To learn about this phenomena, we conducted a science experiment with black play dough, straws, and flashlights. Using their fingers, students manipulated black play dough with straws. They then shined their flashlights directly onto the straws. Doing so enabled them to see that even though the play dough was black, the light against it made it look white!
Walruses have long tusks and a prominent mustache. These large marine mammals are found near the Arctic Circle.
They are extremely social and snort and bellow loudly at their companions. Walruses also have wrinkled brown and pink skin, long, coarse whiskers, flat flippers, and lots of blubber on their bodies to keep them warm in the cold Arctic water.
They can slow down their heartbeat to withstand the chilly water temperatures and to help them stay under water for as long as ten minutes.
To help us learn more about their whiskers, we created our very own. With tweezers, toothpicks, and pre-cut walrus snouts, we placed our whiskers into their places, practicing our fine motor skills!
Storyboarding, or picture writing, is the origin of all written languages, used by ancient cultures before text evolved and as a natural bridge to text. The Chinese language was built using pictographs.
Egyptians used storyboards, or hieroglyphics, first etched in stone and later written on papyrus, to organize a complex society and to rule the ancient world. In our classroom, we use a variation of the story board.
We call it the story tray! Story trays are one of several tools introduced during circle time that work for younger students for whom the visual and the concrete are helpful elements in absorbing abstract ideas.
For this activity specifically, we recreated the story of Quickly Quigley, by Jeanne Gravois. This was a story about two penguins who are brothers. Throughout the story, they learn about how important it is to take their time and not rush things. This is why that, to begin with, students surrounded the story tray to reenact the story. They were then each given a part in the story. Their “part” was reflected by a three-dimensional object. As the story progressed, students placed their item onto the tray. We did this until the story was completed.
Though ungainly on land, the flightless penguin has physical characteristics perfect for swimming through water – fortunate, as some species are known to be at sea for up to 75 per cent of their lives.
Spending so much time in the water puts penguins at risk from predators, so swimming skills are essential. While their long, streamlined bodies and short legs give them a clumsy gait when waddling on land, penguins’ wings have a unique characteristic that gives them surprising agility in water.
While penguins’ wings are not suitable for aerial flight – mainly because, unlike the delicate lightweight bones of other birds, penguin bones are solid. Referred to as flippers, the penguin’s stiff wings act as the perfect natural paddle.
What’s most interesting, however, is the recent discovery that as well as being able to flap their flippers up and down like wings, penguins can also twist them in a corkscrewing motion.
To demonstrate this phenomena, we played with toy penguins in the water table! Using styrofoam as our “ice bergs”, students practiced making their penguins “swim” though the water, only to rest on their ice bergs!
Penguins generally live on islands and remote continental regions free from land predators, where their inability to fly is not detrimental to their survival.
These highly specialized marine birds are adapted to living at sea—some species spend months at a time at sea.
Penguins are usually found near nutrient-rich, cold-water currents that provide an abundant supply of food.
Different species thrive in varying climates, ranging from Galápagos penguins on tropical islands at the equator to emperor penguins restricted to the pack ice and waters of Antarctica.
For this activity, we attempted to recreate some of these habitats.
We used flour, glass jewels, white play dough, styrofoam, rocks, and toy penguins to do this.
Students enjoyed manipulating the flour as they created their own arctic wonderland!