Five Senses Day at Preschool

This week at preschool we learned about our five senses.  It was a touchy, smelly, tasty, visual and auditory extravaganza.  When the kids arrived, they were given cheap white paper plates and were told they were going to make it into a pizza.  As we waited for the other classmates to arrive we began coloring the outer edge of our plates a golden brown.  This would be our crust.  Once all the kids were present and had completed coloring their crusts, we put a dollop of red finger paint “sauce” on the middle of their “crust” and they got the delightfully tactile experience of spreading it around the crust with their hands.  We felt the sauce was a little too red and so we added some yellow to smear in.  (We learned about red and yellow making orange last week.)  It helped just a little.  We should have done some hand print art while we were at it but instead we just wiped all the “sauce” off our hands with our ever-present box of baby wipes, then washed the “cleaned” hands in the sink.  In ignorance, we set our pizzas aside to dry.  Apparently finger paint doesn’t dry too quickly.    We’ll get back to the pizzas later … because they turned out GREAT!

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Blinking Eyes
While the pizza sauce “dried”, we started working on our “blinking eye” models.  My assistant did all the folding for us as this would have been too difficult for the little guys.  I gave the children a selection of skin tone colors and told them to choose any skin color they wanted to color the eyelids.  After they colored the skin, we added black eyelashes.  Then we unfolded the paper and I drew light pencil circles in the correct location.  The children were instructed to outline the iris in black and color in the pupil except for the shiny spot.  Next they were allowed to choose any color they wanted for the iris color with the only limitation being they had to find a lighter and darker shade of the same color.  I had them color the inner part of the circle with the lighter shade and the rest of the circle with the darker shade.  This gives the eyes a fairly realistic look which was quite pleasing.  As the final step, they were to add a few black lines radiating out from the pupil to the edge of the iris.  These lines got rather bold, but adorable.  Then we folded the paper back to its original form and showed the kids how to blink their eyes by pinching the corners in back and pushing together and forward to open the eye and pulling out and back to close it.  We also discussed how being able to blink is what keeps your eyes lubricated and safe from dirt getting into them.

Next we tested our sense of hearing by shaking old pill bottles (Thank you Mom.)  which I had covered with construction paper and filled in sets of two with various ingredients such as oatmeal, rice, salt,  a single chocolate kiss, buttons, pennies.  The kids had to shake a bottle and then try to find its partner by listening to the sounds of the other bottles as they shook them.  After that, we did the same thing with “Smelly bottles” — paper covered pill bottles again, but this time covered with tissue so we could smell but not see the ingredients.  These bottles contained such ingredients as dry oatmeal, brown sugar, cinnamon, cocoa, ground coffee and black pepper.  At first I tried just putting essential oils on cotton balls so I wouldn’t need to hide the ingredients, but in testing them myself, I was surprised at how difficult it was to tell the difference between rather distinct smelling oils.  I wasn’t too surprised to learn how quickly this put my olfactory system on overload though, so I decided to go more the food route with the kids.  I was too lazy to cover the bottoms of the bottles and it didn’t take the kids long to figure out how to self-check their guesses.

Our sense of touch was the next to be tested.  We had two activities.  We put 5 pennies on a dish for each child, then buried them in rice and had the kids close their eyes and find the pennies.  Next I brought out cloth sacks and put a familiar object in each child’s sack.  I used our reusable cloth Christmas sacks, but a large sock would work just as well.  They were to use their sense of touch to figure out what was in their bag.  Once they got the hang of it, I moved to more difficult items.   After they’d found quite a variety of objects, I put all the objects into one sack and we passed it around assigning each child a particular object to go fish out of the bag.  This proved to be a bit more difficult than identifying the single object, but it was not too difficult for them to accomplish.

Pizza Time!  

We brought our paper pizzas back out along with all the toppings.  Sadly, the sauce was still quite wet.  No matter, we just drizzed glue all over it and then sprinkled our pizza with “cheese” and then real Italian seasoning to make it smell like pizza.  Next the kids topped their pizzas any way they please.  Their inner pizza chefs sprang to life as they created their masterpieces.  I cut all the ingredients out of paper except for the sausage which was cut from felt and the onion bits which was a white raffia ribbon cut in bits. When the kids finished topping their pizzas, we drizzled them with more clear school glue just for an extra measure to make sure all the ingredients stay attached.  The results were stunning.

Snack Time! — finally a chance to play with the sense of taste!
We tasted salty, spicy, bitter, sour and sweet.  The kids were more adventurous in tasting things than I expected.  Most of them even tried nibbling the parsley.

108_2034 108_2038 - CopyFor salty I used a sprinkle of pumpkin seeds.  The kids were offered a choice of a lemon slice or a dill pickle for sour.  Most tried and enjoyed both.  For bitter, they tried both parsley and my chocolate concoction.  I mixed straight cocoa powder with some coconut oil.  One of the girls tasted it and said, “This is Mom chocolate!”

108_2039We decided a little sprinkle of sugar vastly improved the taste for a kid’s palate.  No, I wasn’t teaching them that adding sugar to food made it taste better; I was demonstrating that a little sweetness can take away bitterness.  Speaking of sweetness, we used applesauce for this taste.  The kids cleaned me out on this one.  For spicy I wanted to use nacho flavored tortilla chips, which I did, but for the dairy-free kids I found some spicy crackers that were both gluten and dairy free.  The kids did not know that spicy play dough was waiting on the table for their playtime or I doubt they would have dawdled through snack time as leisurely as they did.

Active Group Play

After snack we usually try to do something active.  Today I tied in out theme of senses for this activity.  Lacking an old fashioned ticking timer, I downloaded a ticking “bomb” app on my tablet and hid it in various places.  The kids had 30 seconds to find it before it “exploded”.  We had to adjust the volume a few times to make it a little more difficult to find, but even still, it never took them the full 30 seconds to find it.

Play Time!
108_2053There were a few other choices, like some musical toys, a prism and our wave bottle (half colored water, half corn oil), but for the most part they wanted to play with the spice-scented play dough for the rest of the afternoon.  This was the first time I’d tried this recipe, and I love it!  It was a bit of a work out stirring six double batches (By the way, doubling the recipe worked 108_2043just fine.)  but it really only took about 5 minutes per batch. Don’t let the cooking part scare you — really.  It was a wonderful texture after I kneaded it for half a minute. I used a variety of spices to both color and scent the dough.  They smelled wonderful and I was delighted with the natural colors I got.  The center one is beet powder, then clockwise starting with the bright yellow, which is turmeric, followed by sage and thyme, cocoa powder, dill and cinnamon.

We brought out all our play dough tools and used our rhythm sticks as rolling pins.  The kids didn’t do much with the cookie cutters but when I brought out the little pie pans their eyes lit up and a little bakery sprang to life.

That brought us to the end of a very sensory day of preschool.  Thanks for stopping by to check us out.  Go here to read about some of our other preschool adventures.

Snowman Day at Preschool

Once a week, I get the privilege of having a handful of 4-year-olds come over to my house for a little preschool time.  We have so much fun together, I thought I’d share our days with you.  Each week we have a different theme and our schedule follows the same pattern:  an hour of school skills, an hour of art, snack time, active group play, free play (including some form of sensory play) at various play stations.

THIS WEEK’S THEME WAS SNOWMEN!

We started our day practicing tracing and cutting skills.  The kids took turns sharing a couple of snowman shaped patterns which they used to trace the shape on their cardstock.  Next they cut the snowmen out — a little tricky to get in the points, but they handled it well.  Each child drew a face on their snowman and glued on one of the scarves I had created out of scrapbook paper.  I had also created hats out of the same pieces of scrapbook paper and put a number from 1-12 on each one.  It was time to begin our game.

The children took turns picking a hat, turning it over to reveal the number and then placing the hat upon their snowman.  They got really excited when the hat paper matched their scarf paper.  Now the task was to place as many buttons on the snowman as the hat showed.  Once we checked to see if they had the right amount, they would switch hats and add or subtract buttons to match the new number.  They were not really taking turns, but all working on their buttons and switching hats randomly whenever they completed their task.  This game was far more engaging than I anticipated and the kids really enjoyed it.  Here is the post where I got the idea.

Next, we made snowmen out of glue which I got from this link.  I did a sample snowman, but it didn’t have the whole 2-3 days drying time necessary to be completely done by the day of class.  I was rather dismayed as it dried because the glue seemed to be absorbing into the wax paper and I thought I hadn’t used enough glue.  I didn’t realize this was exactly how it was supposed to look, so when the kids made theirs I kept encouraging them to use more glue.  While this didn’t hurt their final products at all, it did mean more drying time — about 3 days total for the thickest ones.  The final product had a milky translucency to it and is semi-stiff/semi-flexible.

 

Probably the best activity of the day was the melting snowmen which I got from this link.  Preparation involved dropping 2 beads and an orange felt triangle in the bottom of a cup, then stuffing the cup with a mixture of baking soda and water mixed to a stiff claylike consistency with a little silver glitter mixed in for fun.  I used red Solo “shot glasses” and I wouldn’t recommend going any bigger than that.  After I firmly packed the cup about half-full, I threw in a couple of sequin “buttons” and inserted two pieces of toothpicks down the side for arms.  Then I set them on the front porch overnight to freeze.  This worked great since temperatures were below zero last week.

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Our frozen snowmen awaiting release.

It took some doing to get the snowmen out of the cup.  They were REALLY frozen solid!  We dipped them in hot water, rolled them in our hands, dipped them again and squeezed and prodded until finally, they worked their way out.  It was so fun to see the unique facial expressions each one was “born” with.  Each child was given one snowman on a plastic tray and a 3 oz. spray bottle filled with vinegar.  We also set out small bowls of vinegar and equipped each child with a plastic pipette.  Then we set them loose instructing them to melt the snowmen with their vinegar.  Because the baking soda concoction was frozen it didn’t react as abruptly as the baking soda and vinegar volcano many of us have done.  Each squirt resulted in a satisfying little fizzle and a tiny bit of melting.  The kids began debating which worked better, the spray bottle or the pipette.  One child figured out (after using all the vinegar in his spray bottle) that he could then suck up the pool of vinegar off his tray and refill his bottle.  Then he discovered pouring the vinegar onto the snowman out of the open bottle was a VERY effective method for melting him.  This project kept all the children completely engaged until the snowmen were totally melted.  In all, it took 20-25 minutes.  Wanting to let the children linger over this learning experiment, I decided to knock a few activities off of our list rather than rush this project.

Next, we read the book Snowmen at Night, by Caralyn Buehner and then let the kids draw their own “snowmen at night” pictures with chalk on dark blue paper.  We used colored chalk, but most of the kids chose to just use white anyway.

 

Snack time consisted of a marshmallow snowman in a field of popcorn “snow” with a side of snowman noses.

 

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I should have cut the button toothpicks shorter, so they didn’t look like daggers, but I was in a hurry.  I dipped a toothpick in food coloring to make the face and used a slivered almond for the nose.

 

It was time to get active so we split the kids into two teams and equipped each team with a bucket of snowball.  With a barrier set between the teams, we let the snowballs fly.  This activity rivaled the melting snowmen as a favorite, and I think the kids could have gone on forever.

While the snowmen-faced balls are adorable and soft, the plain ones have an incredible texture that feels just like you are packing a real snowball when you squeeze them.

Our sensory play consisted of snow dough.  Again, this was such a fun texture to work with.  It is a simple concoction of baking soda and conditioner in about a 4/1 ratio.  (I used a bit more conditioner than the original post suggested.)  You’ll know the right proportions by feel.  At first, it sticks together but is rather crumbly but as you mix in more conditioner, you get a silky soft feel to it.  It still looks like real snow though.  This packs nicely and can be formed into a snowman.  It’s still crumbly and your hands will get messy, but both these ingredients rinse off easily and will not clog your drain.

I put out a nice selection of snowman accouterments to try to encourage the kids to build one more snowman, but most of them just wanted to immerse themselves in the texture of the dough.  One little girl found a coal shovel in the train set and decided to use it to shovel snow.

Taking a break from snowmen, we ended the day by building a magnificent Duplo train track through the rooms.

 

Unplug and Explore – 60 Things Kids Can Do At Home When They’re Bored

 As I write this post, my grandson (having perused this list) is playing on the floor in front of me building habitats for his rubber animals out of building blocks and various containers of water.  His pterodactyl is taped to the ceiling fan and is flying over the entire project.   When he is done setting it all up, the Playmobile people (and, no doubt any real people that happen to be here) will tour this miniature zoo to admire his creations.

When my grandson comes to stay for the week, he almost never turns on the TV, and video games are non-existent.   Growing up, my boys always had access to the “I’m Bored List”.   I made lots of lists because in the middle of raising a passel of kids, the brain gets taxed.  My lists helped me come up with creative ideas when my brain was feeling less than inspired.  Often, you would find a list like this hanging on the wall for the kids to consult whenever they got bored.

PLEASE PEOPLE — unplug the children!  

Read how to UNPLUG on Road Trips here.

Admittedly, we have amassed a great collection of toys over the years, so you might not have access to everything listed here.  Customize this list with the toy collections you have in your home.  We have always kept sets separate in a bunch of clear plastic boxes.  It makes them far more accessible than if they are all mixed up or buried in the bottom of a toy box.

A great place to start collections of your own is at local thrift shops or rummage sales.  

So here you have my “I’M BORED LIST” geared more toward younger children.  This list is largely stuff kids can do by themselves, but use adult supervision when needed.   Can you add more ideas?

Also see my list for older children here.

 

 Child-reading-a-big-bool    Read Books

Color color

 jump rope     Jump Rope 

Playdough playdough

Science Experiments Science Experiments

Play with Water Play with Water

Play with Popcorn Seeds or Wheat Berries (Like Sand) Play with popcorn seeds or grain like sand

 Write a Letter   Write a Letter

   Play Card Games       card games

stencils     Stencils

basketballBasketball

 Paint  paint

Draw Pictures  draw pictures

Cuisennaire Rods  Cuisennaire Rods

Pattern Blocks  Pattern Blocks

fraction circles   Explore Fraction Circles

Kool-Aid Stand    Koolaid Stand

Playmobile Toys   Playmobile Toys

Board Games     Oldies Scanned July 2013 117

 Toy Traintoy train

play marblesPlay Marbles

Puzzles   puzzles

 Rubber Stamps rubber stamps

origami   Origami

musical instruments    Play Musical Instruments

Clean/Decorate Your Room  clean or decorate bedroom

climb a tree    Climb a Tree

Build a City(with blocks or boxes or in the dirt)Copy of blocks

Play on Swingset swingset

rollerbladeRollerblade

ride bike    Ride Bikes

Practice Writing with the Oppossite Handwrite with opposite hand

trampoline    Trampoline

Hopscotch    hopscotch

Lego’s     legos

     golf     Golf 

Set up an Obstacle Course   obstacle course

chalk     Chalk on Cement    

Learn Some Magic Tricks Magic Tricks

Wash Windows   Wash Windows

Time Yourself in Running (or doing anything else)stopwatch

think it throughThink-it-Through Tiles  (Discovery Toys)

Clean a Shelf or Drawer in your Room    clean a shelf or drawer

 rubber animals   Play with Rubber Animals 

water balloons    Water  Balloon Fight

Set Up a Fair      set up fair

 

     toolsPound Nails, Turn Screws, Drill Holes 

Pearler Beads    perler beads

String Beads, Cherrios or Pasta beads and pasta

 Oldies Scanned July 2013 056    Dress Up in Costumes

Nature Hike nature hike

 bible verses    Memorize Bible Verses 

Memorize a Poem     poetry

Put on Play     Put on a Play

Play Croquet     Oldies Scanned July 2013 255

     Oldies Scanned July 2013 327     Decorate your bike

Play Restaurant     play restaurant

  play store   Play Store 

Make a Tent/ Fort       Make a tent fort

Try Baking or Cooking   Something  (with adult supervision)     Oldies Scanned July 2013 342

 
2013 006     Practice Face Painting

 

 

 

 

 

Craft Gathering for Families

We tried this idea out with our home school group as a Christmas Gathering with mostly Christmas themed activities, but you could do this any time of year with other craft/activity ideas.  It’s a great way to share talents and enjoy a multi-generational afternoon with friends.  Our Christmas Gathering, by the way, was a grand success and included about 50 families.

Ours is a 3 hour event with multiple craft/activity stations set up all around a large hall allowing children of all ages to freely move from station to station creating projects or participating in games/activities.   Naturally, we provide a snack area as well.

All participating families “fund” this event by either providing the supplies and supervision for a craft OR  by bringing 2 liters of juice, 3 dozen cookies (or equivalent amount of healthier options), AND $5 to go toward the cost of paper goods and rental or donation for use of the hall.   My goal is to have at least 20 craft/activity stations set up.  Any last minute families are expected to choose the juice, snack and cash option.

While teens enjoyed some of the activities, it is probably a better idea to include them as assistants.  They can man the food area, be in charge of or assist a craft/activity table, or assist moms with multiple children in taking their children to the various booths.  Don’t forget about the older generation either.  Invite grandparents along to teach a craft or participate with their grandchildren.

I let parents come up with their own crafts or activities, but also supplied a list of possibilities for those who were willing to host a table but were lacking ideas.
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Here is a plethora of ideas, but be sure to read all my TIPS at the end of this article as well.

CRAFT IDEAS

  • Beaded bracelets
  • Bookmarks
  • Cake pops
  • Christmas Origami
  • Christmas ornaments
  • Cookie Decorating
  • Gift jars (This one could get pretty costly though.)
  • Gift Coupon booklets.  (Coupons good for help with a chore, providing a service, guaranteeing a good attitude, etc.)
  • Graham Cracker “Gingerbread” houses.
  • Hot Cocoa in Bag (Provide a variety of additions to layer.  Use the clear, cone-shaped, decorating icing bags with curling ribbon to tie them shut.)
  • Little gift boxes made from old Christmas Cards
  • Marshmallow Corn Flake Crispy Wreaths (with red cinnamon candy “berries”)
  • Paper chain for the Christmas tree OR a count down ‘til Christmas chain (rip off a link every day)
  • Potato Print Wrapping Paper
  • Puzzle Piece Wreaths
  • Refrigerator Magnets
  • Scrapbook paper cut in triangle flags and paper-punched to string together for a wall banner.
  • Scrapbook Style Christmas Cards
  • Sock snowmen
  • Snowflake Cutting
  • Snow globes – using baby food jars

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ACTIVITY IDEAS

  • Balloon Animals
  • Christmas Jigsaw Puzzle
  • Coloring / word search table
  • Face Painting
  • Grand Prize Game
  • Guitar Accompaniment to sing Christmas Carols
  • Hand bells or xylophone  with charts to follow to play Christmas Carols
  • Kid’s’ Karaoke
  • Letters to soldiers
  • Nativity Costume Corner (just a dress up corner to act out the Christmas Story – not take home costumes)
  • Puppet Booth
  • Temporary Tattoos

TIPS Image

  • Be sure to give families at least a 2 month notice of this event to allow them time for preparation and to watch for sales for their crafting supplies.
  • It’s best to do this somewhat messy activity in a tiled rather than carpeted area.
  • I do not run this as a drop-off activity.  It is expected that every child in attendance will have an adult that is keeping an eye on them.
  • You may want to station a worker at the door to take the cash donations and keep children from leaving the area.
  • Keep the food and drink contained in a specified area.
  • Be sure to assign someone to oversee the snack area.
  • I hate for families to miss out on the fun, so I ask “food families” to register, but also allow last minute families to show up as long as they bring the required food and cash donation.
  • Set a deadline for craft families to register their craft at least a week before the event.  (Most will need more time than that to prepare anyway.)
  • If two or more families have a very similar craft idea, the 1st family to register their craft gets to do it.
  • You may want to allow 2 families to sign up to do a craft together for two reasons.  1) It allows the expense and preparation time to be shared.  2) One of the moms can keep an eye on both families’ children as they move from station to station and the other can man the booth.
  • I wouldn’t allow more than 2 families to work a craft together or you will not have enough activities to keep the children occupied.
  • I suggest craft families be prepared for about 100 kids to visit their booth.  This is based on 50 families.
  • My other suggestion for crafters is that their craft can be completed in less than 10 minutes.
  • I try to have a number of crafts for every age group and some that are fun for all ages.
  • We suggest each family bring a box or bag in which to collect all their children’s creations, but also have on hand a supply of plastic grocery bags for whoever needs them.
  • You could alternatively set up a concessions area to sell snacks and charge admission if you want to do this as a fund-raiser.  I know WE were working with large families on tight budgets so I tried to make it as economical as possible.  Know your participants.
  • Reminder for the organizer – don’t forget nametags, ice, cups, plates, napkins, plastic table covers.
  • This is a big event for a single person to organize.  Find yourself an organizing buddy.God bless your efforts.  May your event be as much fun as ours have been.