I think we all have a little case of the winter doldrums here. Our snow has melted and temperatures are back to a subtropical 65 degrees, but until this week, we were pretty cooped up indoors. Between winter break and snow days, re-acclimating to preschool and "normal" routine has taken some time and extra TLC. When S asked to do a story stretcher about rainbows (after re-reading a favorite book of his and his brother's, What Makes a Rainbow? by Betty Schwartz), I was game! And speaking of games--I felt like we all needed a little more playtime and movement in our day. So today's story stretcher will take us beyond the book of three of our favorite rainbow/colors themed children's books with an open play/gross motor twist!
Our three target books are:
- What Makes a Rainbow? A Magic Ribbon Book by Betty Schwartz. In this cute ribbon/pop-up book, a little rabbit asks his mother what makes a rainbow after a rainstorm ends. His mother encourages him to ask his colorful friends, and as each one responds, a ribbon of color is added to the rainbow. There is a beautiful pop-up ending that brings a smile to both my boys each and every time!
- Alphaprints Colors by Jo Ryan, Sarah Powell and Pip Tinsley was a wonderful Chanukah gift to Y from my sister this year. We love the colorful illustrations and Y especially likes touching the unique textured pages. I particularly adore the illustrations that are made from fingerprints!
- My Many Colored Days by Dr. Seuss is one of my favorite ways to teach about the plethora of emotions we experience and move through in the course of a week or even a day (or sometimes even an hour).
On some occasions, I formally introduce a book and sit and read with the boys. On other occasions, I like to strategically place them around our play area near a relevant activity. If S asks to read one, I certainly do. If the boys want to look at the books, they may and if they just want to play with the toys in that area or do an activity that is set up, that's fine, too!
In one area, I've set up our Grimm's Rainbow and some rainbow colored wooden peg dolls I painted. I want to invite the boys to play imaginatively and S in particular enjoys dramatic play with peg dolls. I am so excited to see how both boys, at their own level, will explore the variety of uses for a Grimm's Rainbow and these little peg dolls! When using peg dolls with very little ones, do make sure they are large enough not to pose a choking hazard and that you carefully supervise.
Across the span of the room, I tied a large piece of yarn between two chairs (better seen from the top photo) and affixed a rainbow of colored scarves to the garland using wooden clothes pins. Each of my boys are at very different stages of gross motor development. S and I can play a game of Rainbow Scarf Limbo and practice getting under the garland in different ways. Y has enjoyed sitting beneath the garland and grasping a pulling scarves from the clothespins! (That's the bonus of waking up from his nap while I was still setting up...)
Around the space, I've also set out a basket of colorful squeeze blocks, stacking rings, sensory balls, bean bags and giant pom poms to inspire a rainbow of ways to play using large and small muscles. Y had a blast
For our art and fine motor component, I set out a What Makes a Rainbow? Station with Model Magic Clay to which I added blue glitter and a collection of rainbow colored pipe cleaners. For the sake of a photo, I demonstrated my own way of building a rainbow, however for S I have merely set out the materials and a blob of clay to encourage him to build a rainbow in his own way. Model Magic has the texture and viscosity of real clay and can air dry into a permanent work of art. Clay is a great fine motor tool for preschool aged children and up and truly works those tiny little hand muscles. When S is done with his rainbow sculpture, we will allow it to dry and be able to put it on display!
Our Alphaprints Colors station is aimed to inspire some fingerprint creations of our own! When S was about Y's age, we worked together to create an entire set of alphabet pictures using his fingerprints. Now that he is older, he can more independently create fingerprint art using this giant washable ink pad and a variety of artists' pencils. Y will need a bit of help from me and I think we will all have fun!
Finally, for a sensory component, I set up our sensory table with rainbow colored waterbeads and a variety of fine motor tools for scooping, transferring, squeezing and pinching. I added a bit of lavender and peppermint oil to the waterbeads as I love including the sense of smell in our sensory play experiences. I do not recommend using waterbeads with young toddlers and infants, however they are great fun for preschool aged children and if you do wish to explore this medium in a taste-safe way, you can make your own using basil seeds.
If your day is in need of a splash of color or a bit of movement, these activities are all great in conjunction or as stand alone stations. Here's to an afternoon of colorful fun and, as always, happy playing!