Using spools as tools for play

I have no idea what these great big cardboard spools were originally used for but after collecting six of them from the local recycle center, I used them as tools for play in both my indoor and outdoor classroom…

Using spools as tools for play in preschool

If you are like me, once you find a fun item like these over-sized cardboard spools, you want to use them for anything and everything until they start to fall apart…

Using spools as tools for play in preschool

You may not have a set of large cardboard spools but what I am hoping you will get from this post is not that you need to run out and find some but that you will look at the things you do have or that you do come across and wonder “What else can this possibly be used for in my classroom?”…

Using spools as tools for play in preschool

As you can see from the photos I am sharing today, we used our spools in a variety of ways. The children rolled them, stacked them, and used them for play in our block center…

Using spools as tools for play in preschool

We also added them to our sand table for play…

Tools as Spools for Play by Teach Preschool

No matter where we added the cardboard spools, the children used them for unique and creative types of play…

Tools as Spools for Play by Teach Preschool

So my advice to anyone who is listening (or reading) is to think outside of the box when it comes to upcycling something like a set of large spools in the classroom. Upcycle your recycled collections for play, engineering, construction and all the other creative ways you can think of. These types of unique tools for play can be extremely inviting and engaging to young children and they are free!…

Tools as Spools for Play by Teach Preschool

Our cardboard spools did great until I left them out in the rain overnight and then they started to lose their shape so I took them back to the recycle center…

Tools as Spools for Play by Teach Preschool

But I’m keeping an eye out in hopes that whoever brought the first set of cardboard spools to the recycle center will soon be bringing more!

Use spools as tools for play by Teach Preschool!

 

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By | June 26th, 2014|Categories: Engineering|Tags: , , , , |7 Comments

Spools of fun!

Cardboard spools are such a fun resource to upcycle into all kinds of uses in the preschool classroom. The children and I started saving different sizes of cardboard spools about half-way into our school year and once we had a nice collection, we put them to good use…

Spools of Fun by Teach Preschool

When I say I collected all sizes of cardboard spools, I mean ALL sizes including these really big cardboard spools I found at our local box recycle place. There were six very large spools in all that someone dropped off so I gathered them up to add to our spool collection…

Spools of Fun by Teach Preschool

The rest of the cardboard spools I saved were mostly empty ribbon spools…

Spools of Fun by Teach Preschool

Now that we had a nice collection of cardboard spools it was time to put them to good use. One of our first uses was to engineer up a fun painting process. The children made their own paint rollers by pushing a small dowel rod through the center of one or more spools…

Spools of Fun by Teach Preschool

Once their paint rollers were put together, then the children rolled the spools through paint…

Spools of Fun by Teach Preschool

And then rolled their spools on paper…

Spools of Fun by Teach Preschool

This process is a great way to bring STEAM into the classroom as it combines the engineering of a painting tool with the creative art experience of painting with the painting tool…

Spools of Fun by Teach Preschool

For some of the children, the engineering aspect was what they found most interesting while others looked forward to the painting process…

Spools of Fun by Teach Preschool

I have some more ideas to share with you on how we used both our big spools and small spools as tools in the classroom so be sure to check back!

Spools of Fun by Teach Preschool

Available on Amazon

By | June 25th, 2014|Categories: Engineering, Painting|Tags: , , , |2 Comments

Spielgaben: a new and innovative learning resource [give-away]

You may have already heard the buzz about the remarkable and beautiful new learning resource from Spielgaben but if you haven’t (or even if you have) you will surely enjoy scrolling down through the photos to see this beautiful and uniquely designed learning resource…

Spielgaben Learning Resource (give-away included) by Teach Preschool

The Spielgaben learning resources arrived at my door in a large box and after taking each beautiful and natural-to-brightly colored piece out of the wrapper and setting all the pieces out on my table, I stood back for a minute to admire them and consider what I wanted to dive in to explore first…

Spielgaben Learning Resource (give-away included) by Teach Preschool

Fortunately, the innovative designers behind Spielgaben also provide a very large and detailed 700 page online user guide for how to put the learning resources into playful learning. I decided to go ahead and print most of the user guide and put it in a binder so you could see some of the pages. You certainly wouldn’t need to print it all like I did. Instead, you could just print what you need as you are ready. Included in the online resources are all kinds of printables (Inspiration Cards) that go along nicely with each type of learning resource…

Spielgaben Learning Resource (give-away included) by Teach Preschool

So now that my guide was printed, I moved everything off to a shelf in my classroom so I could use my table to begin sampling a few ideas shared in the user guide along with the learning resources they provide. (I will most likely store the materials in the beautiful and very organized wooden Spielgaben storage case rather than on a shelf in the classroom during the school year but I am still deciding)...

Spielgaben Learning Resource (give-away included) by Teach Preschool

First up, I wanted to play with Spielgaben box #1 which consists of 12 beautifully woven “cotton balls.” Now you should know that Spielgaben goes through great lengths in their learning guide to…

  1. Walk you step by step through how to use the materials
  2. Give you tips on how to introduce the learning resources to young children
  3. And to reinforce the message that it is extremely important when introducing the materials, to go through each box in sequential order over a period of time.

I bring this up because I am just giving you a little photo gallery of some of the materials along with a look at the very beginning uses of some of the materials that Spielgaben provides and NOT a tutorial on how to use the materials. You will want to consult the user guide on your own before introducing the learning resources in your home or classroom…

Speilgaben #1: 

Spielgaben Box #1

Spielgaben #2 and #3

Spielgaben boxes 2 & 3

Spielgaben #4

Spielgaben # 4

Spielgaben 4-4

Spielgaben #6

Spielgaben #8

Spielgaben #9

Spielgaben 9

Spielgaben #10

Spielgaben 10

Recommended age range

The Spielgaben program is intended for children starting at age three going on up through and beyond the age of five.

In the Classroom

You may ask if I plan to use these materials in my preschool classroom and the answer is an absolute “Yes!” I can see lots of potential for putting the materials to good use promoting critical thinking skills in math, engineering, construction, and design as well as promoting fine motor skills and creativity in my classroom.  To see the materials in action in a classroom environment, take a look at the “Why Schools Love Us” video on the Spielgaben website!

Applying Froebel

Although the materials are being promoted as a way to integrate the Froebel philosophy into the classroom, it is important to note that as with all philosophies such as Froebel, Reggio, Montessori, and so on, it requires training and study of the philosophy to adequately implement the philosophy. To learn more about Froebel, you might also find this resource helpful.

New storage system

The Spielgaben storage system I received has since gotten a new look! Here is what the new storage case will look like (which is not shown in the photos above)…

Spielgaben-Complete-Set

A winning comment has been drawn by Random Generator.

Congratulations to Julie Bulver

Comment #240

Give-Away

Entries are now closed!

One very lucky winner of this give-away will receive one complete set of the Spielgaben learning resource so be sure to read the following rules for entering this give-away. This give-away is only being made available to residents living in the US or UK ...

How to Enter

  1. Visit the Spielgaben website
  2. Come back here TO THIS POST and leave a comment below telling me something you read or learned about the Speilgaben learning resource that was of interest to you.
  3. Make sure to leave a correct email address when you leave a comment (no website is necessary) as this is how the winner will be contacted.
  4. Only one entry per person please!

Give-Away Rules

  • The give-away will close on Friday, August 2, 2013 by 10pm EST.
  • The winner will be selected by Random Generator.
  • The winner will be notified by email and must respond to my email within 48 hours from notification or a new winner will be chosen.
  • The winner will need to provide a shipping address which will be forwarded to Spielgaben.
  • Spielgaben will send the winner of this give-away one complete Spielgaben learning resource set.
  • No entries will be accepted by email, on Facebook or any other forum. YOU MUST LEAVE YOUR COMMENT BELOW ON THIS POST TO ENTER.

Disclosure: I received one Spielgaben Learning Resource set to review in my classroom. I was not compensated in any other way and all opinions are 100% my own! This give-away is void where prohibited by law.

Neighborhood under construction in preschool

The process of building our own neighborhood would have to be considered one of my most favorite or at least right up there at the top of the list of favorite studies we did last year.  I will share with you what we did and why I place it so high up on my list of to dos…

Be my neighbor by Teach Preschool

Like we do on most occasions in my classroom, we began our study with a focus on houses. We read the book How a House is Built by Gail Gibbons…

Be my neighbor by Teach Preschool

My original thought was to focus solely on houses but houses naturally lead to neighborhoods and community…

Be my neighbor by Teach Preschool

After reading our book about houses, we took a few minutes to look over a blueprint that I stole borrowed from my husband’s construction office…

Be my neighbor by Teach Preschool

We talked about the different parts of the blueprint including the lines and measurements and windows and doors and other aspects, without going into too much detail, that a blueprint of a house provides for constructing a house…

Be my neighbor by Teach Preschool

Be my neighbor by Teach Preschool

the children were then sent off to explore our centers for the morning.  At the easel, the children found rulers and pencils and highlighters to expand the idea of creating a blueprint of their own…

Be my neighbor by Teach Preschool

I had included some drawings on the paper already to give them a place to start but the children mostly used the pencils and rulers to draw lines in various directions which I thought was great skill building work in itself…

Be my neighbor by Teach Preschool

At the table, the children found cardboard house shapes that they were invited to personalize any way they wished…

Be my neighbor by Teach Preschool

A slit was cut in the bottom of each house shape so a small cardboard rectangle could be placed inside the slits to help the houses stand on our large table later on…

Be my neighbor by Teach Preschool

Every house was unique in design and included many of the different parts that we had pointed out during our circletime discussion…

Be my neighbor by Teach Preschool

Once the children completed their houses, they took them over to the large table covered with butcher paper and stood them up.  In the mean time, two of our students got busy making roads on our butcher paper with black construction paper and chalk…

Be my neighbor by Teach Preschool

The children used glue sticks to tack the roads down on the paper. The children worked together until the roads went all the way around our paper…

Be my neighbor by Teach Preschool

The entire morning was an amazing sight of young children working together to build their neighborhood. From exploring the blueprint process to designing houses to building roads, the children stayed engaged and focused and continued to each work at their own pace at what they found to be the most interesting part of the process…

Be my neighbor by Teach Preschool

Throughout the morning, the children continued to add roads and houses to our paper and then came the cars, signs, people, and animals from our block center…

Be my neighbor by Teach Preschool

The neighborhood was left open for play and for adding more items throughout the morning…

Be my neighbor by Teach Preschool

So  why was this unit at the top of my list? The first reason is because the children were engaged in the process and each contributed something a little different to the process. The second reason is because of the collaboration that was involved and how that collaboration truly resulted in a community that you could both feel and see…

Be my neighbor by Teach Preschool

The third reason is because the process invited creativity, writing,  pretend play, cutting, gluing, coloring, construction, engineering, and the list of skills goes on. The fourth reason is because the entire day was rich with new words and language such as construction, elevation, blueprint, design and so on.  Finally, I loved how the process was both open ended and yet intentional. The making of the houses and roads were intentional at each center but  each center then led to the community in the middle and  was open ended in design, play, conversation, and materials….

http://www.teachpreschool.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/Houses-and-Pigs-151.jpg

Available on Amazon

Links to Grow on

Three Little Pigs and a DIY puppet stage by Teach Preschool

House Painting by Brick by Brick

Measure the House by Let’s Explore

H is for House from Play and Learn with Dana

 Rainbow Village Printable by Inner Child Fun

Making simple boats that float

We have been exploring a broad range of under-the-sea type things from sea animals to water to boats that float in the water. For our exploration in boats, we read the book Little Tug by Steven Savage and then the children were invited to make two different types of boats…

Making boats that float by Teach Preschool

Little Tug is a simple book with fun illustrations about the smallest boat in the water and all the ways Little Tug helps the big boats…

Making boats that float by Teach Preschool

It is a great book for promoting discussion on the different kinds of boats illustrated throughout the book…

 It is a great book for promoting discussion on the different kinds of boats illustrated throughout the book...

To extend our reading of Little Tug the children were invited to make their own boats using two different types of materials. At one table, the children found pieces of Styrofoam, scissors, markers, and toothpicks…

 Making boats that float by Teach Preschool

At the other boat making station, the children found wine corks (purchased by the bag full), rubber bands, craft foam, and toothpicks…

 Making boats that float by Teach Preschool

The children went right to work making their boats. The Styrofoam boats were the easiest because the children only needed to decorate the foam sheets, add a Styrofoam sail with a toothpick, and they were ready to go…

 Making boats that float by Teach Preschool

The wine cork boats were a little more challenging but only because the children had to wrap the corks with a rubber band to keep them in place then poke a toothpick through the craft foam to stand up on their boat…

 Making boats that float by Teach Preschool

 Making boats that float by Teach Preschool

As the children made each type of boat, they were invited to take them over to our lake and give them a spin…

 Making boats that float by Teach Preschool

To invite pretend play with the boats, we set small animals all around the lake that the children could put on their boats. The children decided to add some of our larger animals to the mix and soon found out that the big animals would fall off or sink their boats…

 Making boats that float by Teach Preschool

We had lots and lots of boat making and floating and pretend play going on all throughout the morning…

 Making boats that float by Teach Preschool

Since our cork boats wouldn’t hold the animals, the children preferred just to put those boats in their cubbies to take home and only play with the Styrofoam boats.  Some children, however, did try a little experimenting with both types of boats though…

 Making boats that float by Teach Preschool

This was a super fun day of exploring water, boats, floating, sinking, balance, wind, air, and sails. And talk about pretend play – the children took these animals on so many boat rides that I am quite sure most of the animals ended up a little sea-sick!

 Making boats that float by Teach Preschool

Available on Amazon

Links to Grow On

Exploring Sink or Float in Preschool

Ice Boats from Learning 4 Kids

Sink or Swim from Happy Whimsical Hearts

Balancing bubbles in preschool

As mentioned in the previous post, we have been exploring two words:  “level” and “balance.” To expand on our exploration of level and balance, the children tried their hand at balancing bubbles…

Balancing bubbles by Teach Preschool

Each child filled up a clear plastic tube with water making sure that the water level was almost at the very top of the tube. Then they added a lid to the tube to keep the water sealed inside…

Balancing bubbles by Teach Preschool

Because the tubes were not filled all the way to the very top, a small pocket of air was left in the tube which created a bubble in each child’s tube.  The more air that was left inside, the bigger the bubble (air pocket) but the goal was to have a little bubble so we needed to try leave the smallest amount of air inside  the tube as possible…

Balancing bubbles by Teach Preschool

Once the children had filled their tubes with water and put the lid on tight, then each held their tube sideways and tried to  get the bubble that was inside the tube to balance in the middle by tilting the tube from side to side…

Balancing bubbles by Teach Preschool

Getting the bubble to balance in the middle was a challenge for our students. The task required using gentle and slight tilting movements, a steady hand, and keeping a close eye on the bubble…

Balancing bubbles by Teach Preschool

Not only was this an interesting exercise for the kids to explore, but the process gave us the opportunity to reinforce lots of scientific and engineering terms such as tilt, balance, level, middle, side, top, bottom, air, water, bubbles, air pocket, and steady. The process also promoted the use of eye-hand coordination and fine motor control in a rather unique way…

Balancing bubbles by Teach Preschool

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Links to Grow On

Fun with Colorful Bubble Science by Teach Preschool

B is for Bbbbbb Bubble by Teach Preschool

Science for Kids: Hanger Balance by Kids Activity Blog

DIY ramps and cars for toddlers

My grandson loves his cars and trucks so I thought I would introduce him to a simple version of ramps and cars this week. I started by making a simple toddler-sized ramp that he could easily explore…

DIY Ramps and Cars for Toddlers by Teach Preschool

To make the ramp, I taped together two pieces of left-over foam board that I have had sitting on my dining room table for over a week. I was thrilled to find some use for the pieces of foam board to at least get them off the table for awhile…

DIY Ramps and Cars for Toddlers by Teach Preschool

While my grandson was off playing in the other room, I set up our new ramp by taping one end of the foam board ramp to a kid-size table leaving the other piece of foam board hanging over the edge of the table. At first I set out three little trucks I had picked up from the dollar store and then waited for my grandson to come back into the kitchen so I could introduce him to my newly made DIY really cool toddler-sized ramp…

DIY Ramps and Cars for Toddlers by Teach Preschool

All it took was one demonstration of what to do and then it was time for grandma to move out of the way and let this toddler have at it…

DIY Ramps and Cars for Toddlers by Teach Preschool

And it wasn’t long before more cars and trucks were added to the ramp…

DIY Ramps and Cars for Toddlers by Teach Preschool

And off they went across the track and down the ramp…

Cardboard Ramps 037

After awhile, my grandson decided to drive the cars and trucks up the ramp. Well as you know, foam board will not hold up well to being climbed on so after it was bent up a little, my grandson figured out (with a little help from me) if he stood to the side of the ramp, he could drive back up…

DIY Ramps and Cars for Toddlers by Teach Preschool

And back up the ramp went all the cars and trucks. We used the words “up” and “down” a lot during my grandson’s play….

DIY Ramps and Cars for Toddlers by Teach Preschool

I had a teacher recently mention on Facebook that she was looking for idea on how to introduce the concept of “Up and Down” to her students in the classroom. My suggestion to anyone wishing to teach directional words is to put them into action. The act of making those cars go up and down gave my grandson and I ample opportunity to use the words “up and down” in a fun and meaningful way…

DIY Ramps and Cars for Toddlers by Teach Preschool

Available on Amazon

Links to Grow on

Engineering with ramp making materials in preschool by Teach Preschool

Cars down ramps in paint by Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds

Discovery Box: Ramps and Chutes by The Imagination Tree

Bathtub Play: Car City by Play Create Explore

By | March 24th, 2013|Categories: DIY, Infant and Toddler|Tags: , , , , , |3 Comments

Salt tray mazes

In our classroom, we have used salt trays in many different ways to promote handwriting skills.  Come discover how our preschool children also used their engineering skills to create their own salt tray mazes…

Salt tray mazes by Teach Preschool

The inspiration for this activity came from our very own big cardboard box maze.  You can read all about it here.  After playing with our large cardboard box maze as a group, we wanted the children to be able to recreate their own personal-sized mazes to explore…

Salt tray mazes by Teach Preschool

This activity is super simple to set up.  First set out trays or shoe box lids.  These mini art trays are available from Discount School Supply or United Arts and Education.  Add just enough salt to cover the bottom of each tray.  Lastly, set out straws that have been cut down to a variety of lengths.  Before the children were set loose to explore this activity on their own, we demonstrated a few ways that they could create their mazes…

Salt tray mazes by Teach Preschool

We also shared with the children a few tips and reminders about how to play with the salt trays.   We reminded the children that this isn’t a scooping and pouring activity.  Throughout the school year, we give the children plenty of opportunity to scoop and pour with a variety of sensory materials.  This isn’t one of those opportunities.  Instead, we asked that they use the salt just for writing or drawing or tracing with their fingers.  We showed the children how to gently shake or tap the tray on the table to “erase” the salt lines that they created.  With a few guidelines in place, the children are free to explore writing and drawing in the salt trays as they wish…

Salt tray mazes by Teach Preschool

Some children enjoyed laying the straws out in various patterns, while others focused on creating shapes…

Salt tray mazes by Teach Preschool

Some of the mazes that the children built were amazing!  The colorful straw mazes were complete with dead ends, forcing their little fingers to backtrack to find an alternate route…

Salt tray mazes by Teach Preschool

These salt tray mazes were a lot of fun for the children to create.  Activities that promote fine motor skills and explore engineering concepts don’t have to be time consuming or costly…

Salt tray mazes by Teach Preschool

You can create amazing opportunities for exploration with simple things found around your home or classroom.  What fun everyday materials have you been exploring with lately?

Salt Tray Mazes by Teach Preschool

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Links to grow on:

Feather tip salt tray writing by Teach Preschool

Counting activity: A maze of numbers by Hands On: As We Grow

Moon dust sensory writing tray by The Imagination Tree

Lining up colored craft sticks

Earlier in the week, I shared some of our line up activities. Lining up colored craft sticks was one of my favorites…

Lining up colored craft sticks by Teach Preschool

I had previously told you about our class reading and enjoying “The Line Up Book” by Marisabino Russo. This is a fun book about a little boy who lines up all of his toys from his bedroom to the kitchen on his way to lunch. Along the way, his mother calls for him over and over. Each time, he says, “Just a minute.”   After reading our story, we brought out a large box of colored craft sticks for a math activity.  Each child was given ten craft sticks…

Lining up colored craft sticks by Teach Preschool

The children began this activity by counting their craft sticks. Once it was determined that all children had ten, Deborah and I asked them if they could make a square out of four craft sticks…

Lining up colored craft sticks by Teach Preschool

Once they had all made their squares, we asked the children if they could make a triangle with three craft sticks.  A few children figured out that they could place their triangle on top of their square to make a house…

Lining up colored craft sticks by Teach Preschool

Deborah and I asked them to make a few more shapes, before encouraging them to create something unique on their own…

Lining up colored craft sticks by Teach Preschool

The children made some really unique creations…

Lining up colored craft sticks by Teach Preschool

When the children were finished building their craft stick creations, we asked them if they would like to line up their craft sticks on the floor, similar to how the little boy in our story had lined up his toys.  They enthusiastically accepted this challenge…

Lining up colored craft sticks by Teach Preschool

A few children decided to line up their craft sticks on our three types of lines that were taped on the carpet…

Lining up colored craft sticks by Teach Preschool

The children were clearly enjoying this activity!  They loved seeing how far they could line up their craft sticks and they also enjoyed playing the role of the young boy in our book.  Deborah, acting as the mother in the book, asked the children over and over if they were almost finished. The children would all emphatically reply, “JUST A MINUTE…”

They couldn’t have possibly had more fun…

Lining up colored craft sticks by Teach Preschool

Available on Amazon

Links to grow on:

Building shapes by A, Bee, C, Preschool
Exploring craft sticks by Teach Preschool
DIY magnetic craft sticks by Teach Preschool

By | February 14th, 2013|Categories: Mathematics|Tags: , , , , , , |1 Comment

Exploring robots inside and out

To explore the inside and outside of a robot, we recently read “The Robot Book” by Heather Brown with all of its moving parts and then we created our own robots with movable parts too…

“The Robot Book” does have a few words to go with each page of the book. The words highlight the part of robot which is illustrated on each page…

As we read the book, the children took a few minutes to twist, turn, pull, or move each movable part of the robot inside the book…

Then the children were off to explore a couple of different centers related to our robot book including a center of Gears and a Robot making center…

We had two types of Gears set out on the table which might have proved to be a bit too many. The children enjoyed both types but I think it might have been best to separate the different types of gears and set each type of gear out on a different table…

But even though the table was filled with many different gears, my students still found the gear center interesting and spent lots of time learning how to put the gears together and operate them effectively…

At the robot making center, the children found foam shapes of different sizes and colors, Styrofoam, and short pieces of pipe cleaners and toothpicks…

The children selected and set out their foam shapes on the Styrofoam canvas to design the shape of their robot…

Some of the children even used a permanent marker to add their name and other features to their robots…

As the children added each piece of foam to their robot, they used the pipe cleaner (approximately one inch pieces) or toothpicks (half of a toothpick) to “pin” or hold the foam pieces in place…

While the children worked, we talked about how adding more than one “robot nail” into the leg or arm would cause the arm or leg not to move. The children explored how to make their robots so that the arms and legs would still move just like they do in the book…

Robot Nails

As you can see in the photos above, there is a difference between pipe cleaner “nails” and toothpick “nails” in this process…

Toothpicks are easier for the children to press down into the foam and Styrofoam but they stick up which some of my students didn’t care about and others did…

Pipe cleaners are more challenging to use because they might bend in the process but many of my students preferred using the pipe cleaners because they could bend down the top afterwards which left the top of the pipe cleaner soft to the touch rather than poking out like the toothpicks. Oh and we found that the quality of pipe cleaner makes a difference too. The better the quality, the less it bends…

Both types of robot nails did the trick so you will have to decide based on what your kids are ready for as to which will work best….

Here are a few more of our completed robots…

Available on Amazon