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!