Spooky Exploration in The Garden Classroom!

This Blog Post should come with a warning…..Not for the I-Don’t-Like-To-Get-Messy-Teacher! The Garden Classroom loves to push the limits of sensory exploration and create one of a kind hands on experiences for their students that are equal parts creativity and science….with a touch of creepy crawly! Check out the fun The Garden Classroom had the last couple of months!

 

You may have seen our popular “Flower Soup” posts, but have you ever seen “Leaf Stew?” Just add water, food coloring, leaves and of course spiders and flies to create this creepy concoction! A great activity to practice pouring, dumping, wisking and measuring!
Slime + Eyeballs + Pumpkins…..How could you go wrong?!
I love using natural materials to inspire the creative process! These students are using leaves combined with paper, markers and glue to create their own masterpiece!
Check out their beautiful creations!
Sunflowers forts are the perfect way to celebrate Fall!
Painting gourds and pumpkins to explore texture and make unique prints! This is such a fun hands on experience! As chidlren roll them across the paper the different vegetables create new and unique prints!
Now that you painted the pumpkins….you have to give them a bath of course!
Using sunflowers to make goregous prints! Another wonderful way to let nature’s beauty inspire an artistic masterpiece!
Loose part play with mini pumpkins and tree cookies! I often see classrooms with “decorations” that the children can’t touch or interact with. This is a perfect example of decorations that the children can manipulate, stack, play with and explore!
Fall Sensory Table fun!
More exploration of Fall Loose Parts!
Painting those pumpkins so that they are ready for bath time!

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!

 

Loose Part Play

I am a huge believer in the importance of Loose Part Play, and I have really increased the students accessibility to loose parts in our classrooms over the last few years. I get a lot of questions about loose parts and how it works in the classroom. What are loose parts? What are children gaining from this process? How do you encourage loose part play? Are children hesitant to play with these toys? And of course…..what are your favorite loose parts to use in classroom?

“Loose parts are materials that can be moved, carried, combined, redesigned, lined up, and taken apart and put back together in multiple ways. They are materials with no specific set of directions that can be used alone or combined with other materials. Loose parts can be natural or synthetic.” -The Theory of Loose Parts Play

Loose Part Play in Action:

When children have access to Loose Part Play regularly, they begin to see Loose Parts all around them! They begin to see the potential of their environment and the opportunists to be creative.

Our program has a really small outdoor space, in order to incorporate Loose Parts Play outside, we had to use a lot of small scale parts. Lots of small logs, wooden blocks, small stumps and wood scraps make for excellent loose part play!

Froebel’s gifts are the original Loose Parts. They are designed to help your students understand shapes, curves, lines and colors through design and manipulation. We love our Froebel gifts!

Giving children access to different types of blocks and encouraging them to combine and create with them is an essential creative process. I love this combination of small dominoes, large dominoes and and magnetic blocks.

Another awesome combination! Using small plastic cups, dominoes, wooden blocks and marbles…look at the fun these kiddos came up with!

These wooden cylinders were really elevated by the addition of cutout squares of cardboard. Students were able to make towers, experience the with balance and proportion and test boundaries!

Solo cups are one of my favorite Loose Parts! Cheap, simple, easy to store and incredibly versatile! Our students love to build with Solo Cups!

A large variety of small Loose Parts on a table can be incredibly inviting! Look at the incredible creativity and teamwork from this group of Preschool students! I love the combination of corks, large wooden dominoes, rocks, tin buckets, dowels, wooden spools and Keva blocks!