Exploring our DIY rainbow rocks in preschool

Now that our outdoor classroom is back up and running, I enjoy filling it with all kinds of interesting things for the children to explore and one of my latest additions was a set of DIY rainbow rocks…

DIY Rainbow Rocks by Teach Preschool

To make a set of rainbow rocks, Mr. Hayden helped me gather up rocks (we have piles of them all over for various reasons) and spread them out on a sheet of paper…

DIY Rainbow Rocks by Teach Preschool

Then we painted our rocks with spray paint…

DIY Rainbow Rocks by Teach Preschool

We had all the rocks painted except for our last batch when my grandson showed up and wanted to help paint some rocks too! So he “helped” paint our orange rocks for a few minutes before losing interest and moving on to do something else…

DIY Rainbow Rocks by Teach Preschool

After our rocks were completely dry, we placed them in small jars to set out on our discovery table…

DIY Rainbow Rocks by Teach Preschool

In case you are new to reading my posts, then you might not know that we have an outdoor classroom that is only open during the warmer seasons. The outdoor classroom is actually a screened in porch that I converted into an outdoor classroom as a place we could go during warmer days to play. With our preschool surrounded by woods, the bees and other critters can be excessive at times so this gives us a way to be outdoors with a little protection in the process.  Oh, we still venture out into the woods and play outside of the outdoor classroom too but I can set up the outdoor classroom with some amazing furniture and materials without worrying about weather damage or the bees and wasps bugging us while the children play…

DIY Rainbow Rocks by Teach Preschool

Because the outdoor classroom floors are made of wood, I am also able to use clear glass jars instead of plastic jars to display our materials. I have both glass and plastic but I love the glass jars best for the outdoor classroom. These jars are made of a strong glass that has to be smashed pretty seriously before they will break. Dropping them on the shelf or on the floor wont break them but we still teach our students how to handle the jars with respect and care…

DIY Rainbow Rocks by Teach Preschool

We set our colorful jars of rainbow rocks out on the discovery table along with tools for play and exploration. We also had plenty of rainbow rocks left over to add to our sand table…

DIY Rainbow Rocks by Teach Preschool

The rainbow rocks are primarily a resource for the children to explore freely throughout the classroom. The children used them for play in the sand table…

DIY Rainbow Rocks by Teach Preschool

They weighed the rocks on our different types of scales around the classroom…

DIY Rainbow Rocks by Teach Preschool

DIY Rainbow Rocks by Teach Preschool

They sorted them in our sorting boxes…

DIY Rainbow Rocks by Teach Preschool

They explored them with the magnifying glasses…

DIY Rainbow Rocks by Teach Preschool

The rocks will remain available in the outdoor classroom for future play and as I add other tools and materials to the discovery table or the classroom, the children will continue to explore the rocks around the classroom. One of their favorite things to do for now is to take them all out of the jars!…

DIY Rainbow Rocks by Teach Preschool

A few of our DIY rainbow rocks have been taken home already. The children asked me if they could choose a favorite color to take home and since I made so many, I am happy to let them pick a rock to take home and share with mom and dad. What a great way to build their own collections and to bring home discussion about what we are doing at preschool too!

DIY Rainbow Rocks by Teach Preschool

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By | April 28th, 2014|Categories: DIY|Tags: , , , , , , |5 Comments

One-inch sandbox play

We don’t have a “real” built-in-the-ground sandbox in my outdoor play environment so I try to provide different opportunities for outdoor sand play in whatever way I can. My grandson always enjoys the simple exploration and play that one-inch sandbox play invites…

One-Inch sandbox play by Teach Preschool

Now before I continue on, please note that I am not suggesting that one-inch sandbox play is a good substitute for a large sandbox. The kinds of playful interactions, collaboration, communication, and imagination that take place in a large sandbox cannot be replaced by a one-inch sandbox. And as an FYI, we have a large area of nothing but dirt right now (due to some new landscaping going on) to simulate the kinds of play that happen in a sandbox even though this is still somewhat different…

One-Inch sandbox play by Teach Preschool

One-inch sandbox play is low maintenance and can be set up in a jiffy when you’re looking for something fun for your child to do.  I simply poor a little play sand out of the bag onto a tray and set it up outdoors where ever my grandson would like it to go…

One-Inch sandbox play by Teach Preschool

My grandson adds a variety of loose parts to his one-inch sandbox like cars or rocks or other items he enjoys…

One-Inch sandbox play by Teach Preschool

And he experiments with the sand like rubbing his hands through the sand, sprinkling sand in the air…

One-Inch sandbox play by Teach Preschool

And leaving a footprint in the sand. I think because the tray of sand is such a small space, the kind of play that it invites seems to focus more on the little things you can do with sand rather than the larger types of play…

One-Inch sandbox play by Teach Preschool

As I have observed my grandson playing with the sand on a tray, I have been thinking of also introducing the idea to my preschool class this year as a way to take sand tray writing, printing, and play outdoors too. I think my students would enjoy this experience as an additional type of sand play experience this year…

One-Inch sandbox play by Teach Preschool

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By | August 1st, 2013|Categories: Fine Motor Skills, Outdoor Play|Tags: , , |3 Comments

We made colored sand and fall leaves in preschool

Last week, we explored making colored sand. This was a process that I wasn’t quite sure how to do so we experimented a bit…

The first time we used colored chalk to try and color the sand but this process just didn’t work out that well for us…

I think that the kind of chalk I used was part of the problem. I figured out that the cheaper and more powdery the chalk, the easier it is to color the sand. I also didn’t care for how pale the colors were so on our next try, we just added food color to the sand…

The sand we are using for this process is white sand that comes in a jar purchased at the Dollar Tree…

And the shaker bottles that I put the colored sand in come from Deals (which is like a Dollar Store).  I had heard that if you bake the sand at a low temperature after adding food color, it will bake the color into the sand a bit better and possibly not leave color on your hands when you go to play with it.  I did not try baking the sand but I might for future reference. Instead, we just mixed up the food color and sand in baggies then poured the sand in the shakers…

We used the colored sand to make veins in our paper leafs.  The children first examined a real leaf then drew their own leaf veins on paper leaves with glue…

Then the children shook the colored sand on the glue…

Some of our students asked to make more than one leaf so we let them go at it…

Update

Some of our younger children simply made squiggly lines and circles on their leaves with the glue. One reason this is such a great process is that the children get to practice using a glue bottle. They are all getting quite proficient at managing the flow of glue from the bottle…

By | September 30th, 2011|Categories: DIY|Tags: , , , |16 Comments

Table top sandbox play in preschool

I hadn’t set out sand in the sensory table until this past week and boy did the children love it!

Along with the sand, I put out a large shallow box, some shovels, and some trucks for “tools for play”…

The box is on the table and the sand started out in the plastic bin. The children used shovels to add sand into the box then used the trucks to push the sand around…

By adding the shallow box, the children had a large open flat surface to explore the sand on. This led to some great imaginative play. The children made mountains and roads and tunnels…

At the end of each day, I poured all of the sand back into the bin so the children could start with a clean surface each day (well almost clean)…

The children added their own tools for play throughout the week as well. I have a shelf with all kinds of buckets and scoops that they can choose from as they wish. I also have a set of wooden blocks I picked up from a construction site for the children to use if they wish. Sometimes, the table gets a little overloaded…

I highly recommend table top sand play but keep a broom handy!

By | September 10th, 2011|Categories: Around the Classroom|Tags: , , , |8 Comments

Adding to the science and nature center in preschool

Lately, I have been trying to find items to add to our science centers. Filling baskets in the science center is an ongoing effort. I am trying to use items that I find already available in our school and so I have been searching through the old materials in the school storage area…

As you can see, there is room for a few more baskets so I keep working on it a little each week. Last week I added these fun little bottles of sand…

I found a basket of small left over bottles of sand art that were probably used in our summer program some time ago. I happened by this class to see the two year olds exploring the sand play items. In the basket I put the little bottles, the colored sand, little funnels, spoons, and cups…

The two year olds were scooping sand in the cups then pouring the sand into the funnels and then watching, with the most adorable expressions, as the sand flowed down into the bottles….

One goal I have for each basket I put on a shelf is to add tools for play. For example, if I add seashells, I also want to add other items that can be used with the seashells. I have a basket on the science center that is filled with science “tools” such as magnifying glasses, measuring cups, scales, spoons, sorting trays, and other items I pick up around the school…

After the twos fill up their plastic bottles, they dump the sand out into the plastic cups and start all over again. I like to add only clear cups where possible so the children can see the sand or other materials all the time from all angles.

When I initially put the sand out – it was separated into different colors. I knew it would only stay that way for about 10 minutes and then be all mixed together. My goal was to provide sand play not sand art so I didn’t worry about the sand mixing together…

But since I put this basket of sand materials together, I have been learning new ideas about how to make your own colored sand like this post from Irresistible Ideas for Play Based Learning.  So I think I will share this idea with the teachers and see if we can get the kids involved in making some more colored sand to add to our science center…

Even though I know it is just going to get all mixed up again – but that is part of the fun!

Digging up dinosaurs in preschool

It doesn’t matter how old the preschoolers are, they all seem to equally enjoy digging up dinosaurs…

For one of our activity boxes this week, we set out a container of sand with dinosaurs, spoons, cups, shells, and magnifying glasses. The goal was to try and create a dinosaur landscape for the children to explore through sand play…

This activity was never just sitting at a table being ignored. There was always someone who wanted to play in the dinosaur sandbox…

We have a large sand table open just across the room for the children to play in too but just by putting the sand and dinosaurs in a different container and on the table rather than in the sensory table – the children had new interest in digging in…

I won’t kid you though – we also had sand all over the floor all day long! It was a constant process of play and sweep:)

But a little extra sweeping was worth the value of watching the children remain engaged in their play…

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I am linking up with The Play Academy!

By | March 10th, 2011|Categories: Activity Boxes, Sensory Play|Tags: , , , |8 Comments