STEAM Cart stocked with more structured play and learning activities he can do independently or together with me as he is interested. Our main play areas are set up for more open ended play and exploring, and also geared to include Y (who's having his own version of Mommy & Me Nursery School at home while S is in preschool).
|Honey sensory bag--all the fun without any of the sticky mess! Plus these great free printable honey bee lifecycle cards inspire playful learning about bees and the sweet honey they provide for us!|
|Y is too little to taste the honey this year, but he sure loved squishing it through the bag with his hands (and later his feet) while sneaking in some tummy time!|
Sensory play is a favorite activity here. I pulled out this parts of an apple dry oat sensory bin from last year and it's getting a whole new life of play and hands-on exploration this year. There are those who prefer not to use food for sensory play, and you can substitute in shredded paper as a base in your favorite shades of apple. However, if stored in a sealed and dry location, these oats definitely last--mine are from a year ago and still fresh. On the other hand, if your little ones play quite a bit with them or they end up getting unplanned additives, you may want to toss the base and replenish it the next time around. In addition to dry oats, we added the following to our Parts of an Apple Sensory Bin:
- decorative/toy apples
- artificial leaves
- cinnamon sticks
- dishes, recycled containers and scoops
Check out some of our previous apple themed posts for more play and sensory activities related to apples!
S remembers visiting a local produce shop last year to pick out different varieties of apples and is excited to make another visit this year in the coming week. We may even sneak in a mad science afternoon experiment if he's interested!
Our art and writing center is also set up with Rosh Hashanah in mind:
|In addition to the usual standard art and writing supplies I keep out and some that I rotate and swap, I have some Elul and Tishrei-themed activity sheets from A Jewish Homeschool Blog that I printed off and laminated for use with dry erase markers, some coloring sheets, some apple-colored paints, brushes and a smock at the ready, and our writing bin is stocked...|
S is very proud of going to school now. We proudly display every doodle and dot that comes home. I love when he tells me what he drew about and he often asks me to write it down for him. I use sticky notes to take his dictation so as not to compromise his original work and then I try really hard to enjoy the display but not save every single doodle forever. We are keeping a binder of special artwork.
Our reading area and felt board are also stocked with books about going to school, books about Rosh Hashanah, books related to our upcoming story stretcher and even a few about getting glasses. At our felt wall, I've set a basket of laminated pictures related to topics S is learning in his classroom this month, like English and Hebrew letters, numbers, colors, shapes, etc. I don't do structured lessons with them, but rather leave them for him to play with and use as he wishes. He loves the felt wall basket right now! And I love that not only does our playroom inspire creative play and learning, but it also encourages S to share with us what he is doing in school.
One of the most common concerns parents of students I taught expressed was that their children did not share with them what they did in school. With the exception of a few, most children when asked by their parents what they did in school responded with "I don't know" or "nothing." After this topic first came up in a parent orientation during my first year teaching here, I decided to create and initiate a curriculum on having conversations. After all, how many adults do you know that also respond to the question "what did you do at work today?" with a "nothing" or "I don't know!" Conversation is an art and it needs to be taught and practiced! I created spaces in my classrooms known as The Conversation Corner. I taught the word "conversation," because little kids love big words. And I taught that conversations have two players: the one who is talking and the one who is listening. Both players play both parts, just not at the same time! I introduced songs to encourage sharing a favorite thing about the day and we worked from sharing one thing we did to sharing one thing and with whom we did it all the way to creating newspaper reports and detailed accounts of a day in the life of a preschooler. I'm pleased to say that my own test subject at the time, S, has done quite well with reporting back to me what he does at school, but like many kids (and adults), he doesn't want to talk about his morning there all afternoon! I know some of what he does because he tells me, some of what he does because it comes home with him and some of what he does I know about because I see it in his play! Those are always my favorite glimpses!