Exploring the possible ways items can be used in the preschool classroom

by Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. on August 17, 2011

in Activity Boxes, Cork Board and Tacks

The beginning of a new preschool year is just less than a week away for me and so I have been putting into place all the final pieces before school begins. One thing I am not short on this year is lots of creative ideas for open ended play in my centers….

I have tried to think outside of the box and anytime I have come across something that is affordable and might be interesting for children to explore, I pick it up. I don’t always know exactly what I will do with the items but I usually have some idea of what I would like to try…

Because school is getting ready to start, I have seen lots of these cork boards for sale and so I bought a few. I thought I would use them for one of my walls but then decided they would make a great tool for play…

My nephew, Wy, is a great help when it comes to figuring out what will work or not work once school begins. WY is kind of like my “center tester”. Once he starts to play with something, I can begin to evaluate whether the center will be manageable or interesting or in much need of tweeking. I also can see where I need to proceed with caution :)

Wy loved sticking the over sized tacks into the cork boards. The tacks are so big though that I had to put two cork boards together so the tack would stand up nicely once he pushed it through the boards. Wy liked looking at tacks from all angles as he pushed them through the boards…

Wy also liked feeling the pointed end of the tack. Before letting Wy have the tacks, I sat down with him and showed him how the ends were sharp and would hurt if he poked himself. Wy was very intrigued by the pins and played with them very responsibly..

What I learned from this activity is not to put out too many tacks at one time and to set them out on a tray rather than in a jar. When we would reach into the jar, it was hard not to get poked. By having out too many, it was hard to keep track of one that might have fallen on the floor.

This is definitely a must do activity but a must “proceed with caution” activity too! This is something I wouldn’t just set out and then totally walk away from. Instead, I would want to check in to make sure no tacks are on the floor and that the children are using them in a safe way…

After Wy got the hang of putting the tacks in the cork boards, then I sat out some rubberbands. I showed Wy how to stretch them across the boards and wrap them around a tack. Wy spent quite awhile exploring this process….

For now, Wy is still exploring all the new materials I have been preparing for preschool. This will be what most of my students will need to do as well. Wy wasn’t interested in making patterns with the pins or making shapes with the rubber bands. His focus was solely on exploration…

I am very excited to introduce all the things I have prepared over the summer to the children next week. I wont bombard them with it all at one time and I wont structure the materials into any formal learning plan. Instead, what the children will need to do is learn about the things that are in their classroom and then we will go from there…

Available on Amazon

This article is being shared with you by Deborah Stewart of Teach Preschool - Sharing the wonders of early learning in action!

Check out Deborah's new book and order your copy today!

-Teach Preschool on Pinterest
-Teach Preschool on Facebook
-Teach Preschool on Twitter
-Teach Preschool on Instagram
-Deborah Stewart on Google+


Teach Preschool Button or Logo

Subscribe to receive the latest Teach Preschool blog posts by email...

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner



Disclosure: Teach Preschool is a participating member in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program

Comments on this entry are closed.

1 Scott August 17, 2011 at 8:07 am

This looks like fun…and it’s an idea I haven’t seen before.

(And it’s a little “dangerous”! Always appealing to those boys.)

2 Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. August 17, 2011 at 9:02 am

Yes – a little danger is appealing for sure!!

3 Nadia August 17, 2011 at 10:38 am

I wish I could find the jumbo push pins here in South Africa. This child looks like he is really enjoying the activity and concentrating so hard. My daughter would LOVE this. I tried previously but I dont think my push pins were of a good quality. They kept breaking UGH.

4 Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. August 17, 2011 at 1:20 pm

Yes – these are very sturdy pushpins. You don’t want to step on them! LOL!

5 Amy August 17, 2011 at 11:32 am

There is a center similar to this at our local Discovery Museum. Instead of using tacks they use golf pins and a board with holes in it. If you wanted to take the risk factor out that would be a good substitution but would preserve the point of the activity :D

6 Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. August 17, 2011 at 1:19 pm

I have seen that Amy – I was thinking about putting something together like that too. I think Wy liked the “risk factor” and he did quite well but for days when I don’t like the “risk factor” this would be a good alternative:)

7 Andrea August 17, 2011 at 12:52 pm

I love this! And this is why I love coming to your blog – always such interesting ideas. I will have to keep this in mind for the days I have my assistant in my classroom!

8 Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. August 17, 2011 at 1:18 pm

LOL – it is a good idea to have that assistant helping out with this one!

9 Natalie August 17, 2011 at 10:56 pm

Love that they can make their own geoboards! We do a similar fine motor activity that we call push-pin art. We have small pieces of paper and/ or sentence strips on the carpet and they can push the pins in the paper to make names, designs… We also have out clip boards and writing utensils in case they want to draw it first. They think it’s magic when they place it up the the window.

10 Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. August 17, 2011 at 11:22 pm

Great ideas Natalie! I will keep them in mind this year for more to do in my class :)

11 Patricia August 18, 2011 at 1:19 pm

The risk factor is too scary for me, but what do you think about using the jumbo push pins and gluing them in place? I’ve seen DIY boards done elsewhere on the Internet, but using nails, but those push pins are so colorful.

12 Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. August 18, 2011 at 6:11 pm

If you want the pins to not be moveable – then you could certainly glue them in place. Just keep thinking out of the box!

13 Lisa February 11, 2012 at 10:53 am

when i was in grade school we were given a small square of wood embedded with nails. the nails were arranged to form a grid, and teacher gave us rubber bands in a similar fashion. we learned about squares, rectangles, trapezoids… etc. etc.

Previous post:

Next post:

wordpress stat