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!
Many preschoolers are able to use numbers arbitrarily; pretending to count, or mixing up numbers and letters.
From about the age of four, preschoolers will begin to show one to one correspondence, or the ability to count objects correctly, as well as recognize most numbers 0-9 and sometimes recreate numerals when given an example.
As with many preschool skills, it is important for young students to be given many different opportunities for to see, touch and use numbers throughout the day. Including numbers in thematic play is one way that they can begin to recognize numbers.
For this activity, your little one participated in a sorting/numeral recognition activity that tied in with our snow owl theme. Using manipulatives and pictures of owl nests(with numbers printed on them), your little one practiced sorting and matching groups of snow owls with their corresponding numeral.
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 insta-snow and our fingers, we practiced tracing the letter S.
Throughout the week, we have been talking about different words that start with the letter S.
We have additionally been singing songs that reinforce the different sounds that S makes. Lastly, we traced these Ss, then constructed snowballs out of our insta-snow!
Children (and adults) learn best and retain the most information when they engage their senses.
By giving children the opportunity to investigate materials with no preconceived knowledge, you’re helping them develop and refine their cognitive, social and emotional, physical, creative and linguistic skillsets.
These sensory experiences provide open-ended opportunities where the process is more important than the product; how children use materials is much more important than what they make with them.
For this activity, we explored the physical properties of insta-snow. As your little ones manipulated the snow with their hands, they used many different words to describe its texture and temperature, giggling with their friends as they did so!
A primary vehicle to scientific instruction is that of example.
Because the study of scientific concepts incorporate both observation and experimentation, our classroom activities strive to both display and apply this type of instruction.
This activity involved the science of how things dissolve.
Your budding chemist first learned that all things are made up of molecules.
We talked about how when some molecules interact, exciting things happen, and the word that describes this (in our experiment) phenomena is dissolution.
Using two different materials (baking soda and soap), we constructed snowmen and observed how our creations dissolved once we added vinegar to them.
We then discussed why we thought some snowmen “disappeared” faster than others.
Everyone enjoyed constructing and then watching as their creations disappeared!
Your little one participated in yet another fun sensory activity!
Using large styrofoam as ice, rocks, and walruses, your little one created their very own winter wonderland!
We began this activity with a discussion and review of the various arctic animals that we have been learning about.
We then talked about where these creatures lived.
Our discussion concluded with a review of the new vocabulary that we have been learning, such as glacier, albatross, walrus, Antarctica, and leopard seal.
Your little explorer then happily constructed the perfect living space for his walrus. This was the definite favorite for the week, as your little one applied their understanding of various vocabulary and scientific concepts.