On Monday, I brought an ice cube tray to work. I put small winter animals in the tray and added water. Yesterday, I took the animal ice cubes and added them to our water table.
To introduce the activity, we played “What Sinks/What Floats”. I also asked who thought the ice cubes would melt before we went home at the end of the day, and who thought they would melt when we returned to the school the next day. I made a quick graph on one of our white boards. In our room, each child has a magnet with their name on it so making a graph is simple and quick and is also interactive for the children.
I then left the ice cubes in the water table for the children to play with throughout the day. They loved seeing the tiny animals inside.
Before we got dressed to go home, we all gathered around the water table to see if the ice cubes had melted. They had. We did a quick review of the graph before going to the coatroom to get ready. I will leave the animals in the water table for tomorrow.
A simple change in your classroom to make winter feel like it is inside, is to change what is in your sensory table. Instead of sand or water, try adding cottonballs, fake snow and white yarn. We even put some silver sparkles in our table. If you want to make it feel like the holidays, you can purchase plastic ornaments, and reindeer from the dollar store and add them too! After the Winter Break, take the holiday items out, and the children can still enjoy the feeling of a “snow” sensory table.
Our students have really enjoyed this activity this past week!
Before the children arrived this morning, I took out the toys we had in our sand table and put plastic Easter eggs in it. I bought various sizes and colours. The children can use them for measurement, transferring sand, and for their imaginations. When they came into class, a few of the children saw them in there and started yelling that the Easter Bunny had visited our classroom! It was great.
The sand table had children at it all day!
Finally, we got some snow outside. Last night, we received tons of snow. So today, we thought the snow should come inside!
We took the cotton out of our sensory table to empty it. We then filled the sensory table 3/4 of the way full with real snow. We gave the children mittens to play in it. Then, half way through the day when the snow had melted a little, we added paintbrushes and gave the children the opportunity to paint the snow. The mittens were filthy with various paint colours by the end of the day, but the kids had so much fun that it was worth bringing the mittens home to wash!
To change from the sand in our sensory table and to add something new, today we had “snow” in our kindergarten room.
We filled a large tub with cottonballs. I sprinkled a little bit of silver glitter on the cottonballs to make it sparkle like snow. We added small mittens, pine needles, pine cones and small shovels.
You could also use rice, shredded paper, shaving cream, flour, instant snow, fake snow from a dollar store, or instant mashed potatoe mix. Or, you could use each of these on different days to keep the children’s interest.
It is a very simple and easy activity that the children loved. It also brought some of the students’ interest back to sensory who usually do not play in sand or water.
Now that Winter Break is over, the children are getting back into the routine of our Kindergarten day. One of our students’ favourite activities is our sand table.
Before the break, we had items that are used for baking in the sand. Now that the holidays are over, we have changed the sand table toys in winter items. We put items the children can use if they pretended the sand was snow. We put in shovels, and toy pick-up trucks to plow, and to drive in the “snow”. I also added an ice cream scooper so they can pretend they are making snowballs.
The children enjoyed the new items in the sand table. I enjoyed watching them and listening to them using their imaginations.
Discussing the holiday season can be tricky in most schools. Trying to be all inclusive is not easy. For some, it is easier to avoid all of the holidays that occur this time of year. Instead of trying to include all holidays, you can use winter items, or items that are non-holiday specific.
In Kindergarten, sensory activities are important. In our sand table, we found baking items for the children to use. We put in snowmen cookie cutters, small measuring cups and spoons, and a rolling pin. Instead of holiday items, we are going to focus on baking as several families enjoy baking at this time of the year, regardless of which holiday they choose to celebrate.
Last year we had laminated chart paper for the children to record their thinking as they worked at the sand and water tables. This year, we had an extra easel so it made sense to place it between the sand and water table right where the children can access it as they work. We have been modeling writing by posing a question. The children can then record their discoveries like scientists and mathematicians. The children can also pose their own questions. Not every child is expected to complete a response. However, once a few children have recorded their learning it inspires the other children.
We plan to pose questions such as What do you notice about the way sand moves? What are some ways to make the water move?
Stay tuned for sample questions and response in future blogs.