During our week of polar bears, we learned all about these creatures and where they live.
We made them (and their habitats) with a variety of materials, we played gross motor games aimed at teaching their behaviors, and finally, we used play dough!
For this activity, students added plastic icicles and glitter to white play dough.
They then used polar bears to create habitats for them.
Finally, students created stories about their creatures with their friends!
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.
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.
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.
For this activity, we used a few different materials to create snowman slime. We first combined corn starch and water to create the “slime”. This is a malleable substance that appears as a solid when placed on a hard surface and liquid when it is picked up.
Following this, students added black rocks, foam sheets, and black cardboard. These materials made up the eyes, nose, and hat of the snowman. Lastly, we explored the substance, watching it ooze through our hands as we played with it!
Play dough activities are a great way to help young children develop fine motor skills as well as bilateral coordination skills!
There are many other benefits as well. For one, play dough provides a great sensory medium, which can be used to help children who struggle with sensory processing.
Play dough play can also help develop coordination skills.
For example, young children will use hand-eye coordination to cut, poke and prod play dough and when using cookie cutters in the dough.
Lastly, manipulating play dough helps to strengthen hand muscles and develop control over the fingers.
For our week of snowman-themed activities, we utilized this medium to create our very snowmen.
We did this by combining play dough, googly eyes, pipe cleaners and rocks. We had so much for creating and then tearing down our creations!
This month, we are learning all about arctic animals. These include the penguin, the polar bear, the snow owl, and the moose!
Using wooden play dough hammers, we practiced freeing our arctic friends from large chunks of ice.
This encouraged motor development, hand-eye coordination, creativity, and math and science skills!
As young children explore with age-appropriate tools, they use small and large muscles.
As they make decisions about the orientation of the hammer, they participate in problem solving skills.
Lastly, as they complete their project, they experience a feeling of accomplishment. Most importantly, they had fun while doing it!
Your preschooler consistently expresses her preference for tactile play. As young children seek to grasp new information, this form of play provides the perfect forum to apply newly acquired concepts.
As they interact with peers, their teacher, and provided materials, your budding ornithologist forms relationships to learned notions that enable them to make sense of their world. For this particular activity, we learned about how snow owls are born. Because they are reptiles, most birds lay eggs.
Using play dough, tiny snow owls, sticks, and rocks, we created our very own owl nests! We first made the play dough (using salt, flour and water), and then created our nests!
Your little scientist enjoyed spinning elaborate tales of baby owl cavorting through the “snow forest” as they followed their “parents”. Their conversations allowed for the processing of new vocabulary and the enjoyment of working together toward an idealized goal.
Although the formal study of reading and writing does not occur until kindergarten, young children are capable of recognizing letters and their functions.
Providing regular opportunities to practice pre-reading skills, is essential in gaining knowledge of the alphabet and its association to how words work.
Using flour and our fingers, we practiced tracing the letter W.
Throughout the week, we have been talking about different words that start with the letter W.
We have additionally been singing songs that reinforce the different sounds that W makes.
Using socks as flippers and white paint, we created our very own walruses! We began the project with a discussion about what walruses, where they live, what they eat, and what flippers are!
We then dove into the paint, and created a messy, but fun masterpiece! This sensory activity was one of the favorites for the week!
Sensory play is important because it gives children the change to play with different types of textures, which helps them to build new ways of talking about the world.
Sensory play is also calming for young children. It helps regulate their internal discomfort by soothing their senses and providing a creative outlet for their emotions.