Recycled Materials in The Garden Classroom!

The Garden Classroom has embraced Recycled Materials in their curriculum this year in a whole new way! By creating this color sorted recycle station families can bring recycled materials from home for children to create and tinker with. By color sorting them, we are elevating the materials from trash to treasure.

Here are a couple ways the Garden Classroom have used their recycled goods so far!

Collaborative Egg Carton Painting! This is such a simple and wonderful activity for children to explore texture, absorbency and color. By only providing a few egg cartons for the group, children were encouraged to share, collaborate and communicated their ideas!

Children were also given the opportunity to fill the egg cartons using bingo markers!

An invitation to create using cardboard boxes and markers! What a wonderful invitation to be greeted with when you walk into your classroom! I love the open ended-ness of this activity and the ability for children to work in small groups to collaborate and create!

And then of course they got to play with their creations!

Recycled Materials can be used to create simple and wonderful activities for children to explore numbers, quantities and numeracy. These egg cartons lend themselves so well to a simple counting activity that can be used in SO many ways!

Busy Bees in The Hive Classroom: An exploration of loose parts

When you give children access to loose parts and extended periods of time to explore and create….you will see amazing things. Year after year I ask my self, why are the students in The Hive Classroom always so engaged with loose parts? What creates this type of success? It is not just having access to wonderful materials…you can’t purchase creativity.

The teachers in The Hive Classroom do an incredible job of providing a variety of materials, quality work space and large periods of uninterrupted time. They carefully introduce each material, slowly and intentionally into the classroom, making sure children are ready to use it safely and properly. This process allows for children to push past the first idea, or the first moment of boredom or the first conflict and explore problem solving skills and deeper levels of innovation.

The students in The Hive have been pushing their creativity with magnetic builders, loose wooden parts, blocks and other interesting loose parts…check out some of their interesting work!

 

What can you make using stumps and other building materials? I love the symmetry and balance that was achieved!
The wooden platform that these children are working on is such an inspirational building space. When children have different levels to work on, their play is instantly changed. I love the combination of wooden blocks, animal figurines and magnetic tiles.
Building zoos, habitats and homes! Aways a popular activity!
Building doesn’t have to happen on the floor! Using vertical spaces for building with magnetics encourages a new type of thinking! Suddenly children have to think about their creation in a new way!
Having a variety of shapes and types of wooden blocks is critical. Different shapes force children to find new ways to create balance and symmetry. Window blocks bring beauty and light. And diffferent types of wood allows us to explore texture and touch.
I love when I see a child build one of these beautiful magnetic “quilts”!
Teamwork tower building!
Adding a light projector to a space with translucent materials is such an incredible way for children to explore light, shadow and color. I love that in order to see their results the children had to build something tall enough for the light to hit it! What a wonderful natural challenge!

 

Space Adventures

The galaxy is full of wonder….limitless possibilities…..endless freedom……Kind of like childhood right? Bringing the solar system to your students is a way to give them a hands on experience with something that feels….well…..very distant. Our students have the BIGGEST questions about life’s biggest mysteries…and it’s not our job to provide the answer, but instead to give them the chance to explore, gather information, investigate….and Blast Off!!

Intergalactic Sensory Bin! Black water beads, black dyed water, glitter and planets…..how can you resist putting your hands in that!?

 

3….2……1…..Blast Off! Building these name rockets was…..well….a blast!

 

What an awesome invitation to create! When students walked in they were invited to mix the colors in the shaving cream to create their own planets! Afterwards they used circular paper to make planet prints!

Paper Plate Planet Art! Each child explored the colors of our earth by making their own version of our world!

 

DIY Constellations! Being inspired by the sky to recreate famous constellations or make your own is such a great way to practice fine motor skills!

 

I love this small world invitation for individual students! Using black sand, glitter, rocks and planet cards students can explore sensory elements while also exploring the solar system!

Chicka Chicka…

Creating opportunities for children to explore and interact with letters is incredibly important, but they also need to have meaning and context during this exploration. If we just throw a bunch of letters in front of children and expect them to care about them…..were kidding ourselves……

However, when we connect them to an experience, suddenly, there is meaning. Chicka Chicka Boom Boom By Bill Martin Jr and John Archambault does that ENTIRE job for us. The story personifies the alphabet and invites the reader to care about their safety and comfort as they fall from the tree and search for loved ones. Its simple. Its catchy. Its rhythmic. And it lends itself perfectly to a bunch of literacy extensions in the classroom!

Check out some of the fun ways we used Chicka Chicka Boom Boom to explore and engage with the alphabet.

Using colored table on a magnetic surface we were able to create this Coconut tree for children to re-tell the story! Simple alphabet magnets were an easy way to allow children to manipulate and move the letters!

 

These SUPER inexpensive foam alphabet puzzles are kinda lame as puzzles……but they really do make the best stencils! They are easier to hold and no so wiggly on the paper, our students love using them to practice those fine motor skills!

 

These alphabet blocks are fun to stack and build with, but they are even better for making prints in Kinetic Sand! Our students love exploring the different letters they can make by pressing them into the sand!

 

Alphabet Soup! These personal sensory bins using colored water and colored water beads (we buy them in already separated color packs) are SO much fun to explore! Just add the foam letters from the puzzles in the previous picture, and start searching for letters! The laminated coconut trees on the table added another element and encouraged students to retell the story!

 

We love using a story to encourage a fun transition game! After students read this story at circle time, the teacher asked each child to come add a letter to the Coconut Tree before heading to the sink to wash their hands for lunch! Each child took their turn carefully adding a letter to the tree!

 

What fun ways have you used this wonderful story in your classroom? Is it a favorite with your littles? We would love to hear your ideas!

 

A Camping Expedition!

What do you do when all your students are talking about their latest adventure? You bring the outdoors in obviously! The Camping Experience is such a quintessential moment in childhood, but for some children it is not a possibility. I love how these teachers brought the adventure to the children, and made sure they were making memories that will last a life time!

Brining a tent into the classroom is such an easy dramatic play element! The students loved pretending to go on adventures, sleeping in their sleeping bags and hiding from bears!
Loose parts to inspire campfire building! These loose parts can be all the ingredients necessary to make their very own campfire! This was also a great opportunity to talk about fire safety, the different colors in a fire and what a fire needs to burn. 
Using our loose parts campfires, river rocks and our homemade smores to enjoy some dramatic play around the campfire! 
All the materials needed to make smores! Such a simple activity! Cardboard scraps, brown paper and cottons balls! 
Write your name in the DIRT! Children need as many opportunities as possible to practice their handwriting skills and letter recognition. As our children prepare to head to Kindergarten it is crucial that children are provided with engaging activities that go beyond just paper and pencil.

Spring Fever!

This time of year is always so much fun! Exploring color, flowers, insects, nature and weather…is always so exciting! When the weather gets warm, we all want to be outside….ALL THE TIME….however, at the Learning Loft our outdoor time is limited. Each classroom only gets a short amount of time outdoors….so we have to bring the outdoors in…..so we don’t catch that Spring Fever!

Flower Garden Sensory Bin! Such a fun way to explore color texture, insects and flowers. The students loved mixing the colors, matching the insects to their different colors and finding amazing hiding spaces!
Can you cut the grass!?! Practicing scissor skills is such an important kindergarten readiness. However, it can get kinda boring if you don’t find new and exciting ways to practice! This doggy park is such a fun way to engage in dramatic play, scissor skills and sensory exploration. 
Color exploration in the outdoor space! Mixing colors in the sensory table and making potions!
Flower Play Dough! Such a fun sensory activity for children to engage their sense of smell and touch!

Rainy Day Water Colors! Adding water colors to puddles for the most awesome puddle splashing ever! This was so simple and such an amazing way to explore color mixing and pattern making!

Read to Your Kids!

One of the most important things you can do with your child during these young years. Reading to your child strengthens bonds, develops language and vocabulary….and of course is an incredible way to connect with your child. These are some of the books we have been LOVING this year…and some of our kiddos favorites! All of these books are available online or in your local libraries! Check them out!

This is such a fun twist on a classic! The Three Little Pigs gets a revamp with three ninja pigs who defeat the big bad wolf!
Girl Power! Rosie Revere, Engineer is such an amazing story about a little girl who never gives up on her dreams! Such a great story for your favorite little engineer.

 

My Heart is a Zoo is such a sweet story! A simple read a loud for children of all ages!
Actual Size is an incredible non-fiction book that allows children to understand the actual size of animals and compare them to their own bodies! This book gives quick and simple facts for children to better understand the world around them….and get excited about it!
ONE OF MY ALL TIME FAVORITE BOOKS! This book has been around for many years, but is still always a favorite. It is simple and sweet and loved by even the littlest readers.
Reading Adam Rubin’s books is like listening to your favorite uncle tell a great story. They are clever, imaginative and feel like they are being told personally to you and you alone. I promise if you ask your child about this book….they will smile.
The perfect book for your perfect perfectionist. Beautiful Oops is such an inspiring book, that helps us all to remember it is okay to make mistakes 🙂
Lines that Wiggle will inspire your child to look at the world around them and find beauty in everything!
One of my favorite Eric Carle books! A simple book that is great for your youngest and will get your oldest moving!
NEVER GIVE UP! The Most Magnificent Thing might be one of my favorite books I have read this year….a great story about what it feels like to get frustrated and how to overcome life’s challenges.
This whole series is amazing…and great for your favorite little biologist! Each page allows you to image what it would be like to have different animal parts! The conversations that happen after this book are some of my favorite!
If you haven’t met Piggie and Elephant…..you better run to the bookstore. They will be your new best friends.
Go Away Big Green Monster is such a fun story! And always a hit! The fun artwork and powerful ending is engaging for even your most wiggly child!
Want to make your kid laugh……read this book. I promise you, it wont disappoint!
Learning how to manage our emotions is a critical step in our development. Mouse Was Mad allows children to practice self regulation skills while reading this fun and silly story!
Last but definitely not least….my all time favorite book to read to children. This story has so many layers, but ultimately is a sweet story about kindness.