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…

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