Go Fly a Kite!

Let’s Go Fly a Kite
Let’s go fly a kite
Up to the highest height
Let’s go fly a kite
And send it soaring
Up through the atmosphere
Up where the air is clear
Oh, let’s go fly a kite

“Mary Poppins” {1964 Disney film}

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The month of April has been declared National Kite Month by the American Kitefliers Association and the Kite Trade Association International.  Kite flying is great fun and a perfect way to celebrate the arrival of spring. You can buy a kite or make your own.  There are many different kinds of kites, but I am going to focus on the simple Diamond Kite…like the ones I remember from my childhood and that you see my grandson, A.J., flying with his grandfather, Papa Steve, above.

Making and flying kites is an educational adventure!  You can learn about science, physics, math, history (think Benjamin Franklin and The Wright Brothers), culture, weather, ecology, art, and aesthetics.  

Kite Basics

A kite is a heavier-than-air object that flies… just like an airplane.  The Diamond Kite has  4 main components:

  1. Frame
  2. Kite covering
  3. Tail
  4. Bridle & line

go fly a kite 2The kite body is made up of a framework and outer covering.  The framework is usually made from a lightweight material like wood or plastic.  Paper, fabric, or plastic is then stretched over the framework, turning it into a sort of wing.  The bridle and the control line help the kite flyer control the kite.  In flight, the kite is connected to the kite flyer by the control line, which is connected to the kite by the bridle.  The kite pivots and dives about the point where the bridle connects to the control line.

How Kites Fly
Kites need wind (moving air) to fly.  When a kite is lifted by the wind, the wind pushes against the whole surface of the kite to lift it up.  To find out if there’s enough wind to fly a kite, go outside and look up. If you see leaves blowing on trees or flags waving sideways, it’s probably good kite-flying weather. When the wind is strong enough to move a flag, it’s moving at 7 to 18 miles per hour. That’s just right to lift a typical kite.  You can make your kite dance across the sky by pulling in and letting out the line.

How to Fly a Kite

  1. Stand with your back to the wind. Hold your kite up by the bridle point and let the line out. If there is sufficient wind, your kite will go right up. Let the kite fly away from you a little, then pull in on the line as the kite points up so it will climb. Repeat this until your kite gains the altitude necessary to find a good steady wind.
  2. For younger children or if there is light wind, have a helper take the kite downwind and hold it up. On command, the helper releases the kite and the flier pulls the line hand-over-hand while the kite gains altitude.
  3. If there is no helper, prop the kite up against a bush, post, or wall. Reel out enough line for altitude and simply pull the kite aloft.
  4. If the kite sinks tail first, there might not be enough wind. If it comes down head first or spins, there might be too much wind.
  5. Adding tails to your kite helps it remain stable in stronger wind. Use light-weight materials so you can use lots!
  6. Be sure your kite is put together correctly or it may not fly.

Kite Safety
Parks, beaches, and open fields are great for flying kites. The more room you have, the more line you can let out.  It is each kite flier’s responsibility to think about safety and what you are doing.

  • Be considerate of others.
  • Be aware of who or what is behind you as well as in front of you.
  • Kite lines conduct electricity so do not fly near overhead power lines.
  • Never fly in rain or lightening.  Electricity in clouds is attracted to damp kite lines.
  • Always fly away from other people, kites, kite lines, and kite fliers.
  • Never fly with your line across a road.  If the kite comes down, you can cause a serious accident.
  • If you do tangle lines with another kite, don’t yank the line or it might break.  Fliers should walk together and the tangle will slide right down the line to where you can unwrap it.

Decorate a Kite
Decorate this easy-flying “blank canvas” polyester kite with paint, markers,  stampers and stamp pads, and stickers. Then assemble and lift that kite into the bright blue sky and let the breeze take it and you wherever it may.  Have fun!

kidskite

Product Recommendations:
Decorate a Kite – kit for 12 (KIDSKITE)
Colorations® Super Stamper Classroom Pack (STAMPACK)
Colorations® Washable Stamper Markers Bucket – 44 pieces (STAMPBUCK)
Colorations® Permanent Marker classroom Pack – 84 pieces (PERMPAK)
Colorations® Fabric Paint – set of 12 (FABSET)
Colorations® Fabric Paint Classroom Pack – set of 100 (FABPACK)
Colorations® Washable Chubbie Marker Classroom Pack – set of 30 (COLORMRK)
3-D Gem Stickers – 2150 pieces (RAZZDAZZ)

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Frozen! Winter Art Activities

Yes, the children will let you know that the blockbuster Disney movie, Frozen, can be an inspiration for anything and everything cold and icy. You don’t need any cryokinetic powers to produce ice and snow. Depending on where you live, just venture outside or open the freezer. Most of these activities take little or no preparation…and remember, it’s the process, not the finished product…so “Let It Go” if you think the end result is for children to make something that looks like something recognizable (i.e., providing a pattern of a snowflake or snowman to use with the art medium).  Have fun discovering the science in these activities while exploring with art!  As Olaf said, “Some people are worth melting for.”  I think the children will agree.

frozen 1 frozen 2 Rainbow Snow Painting
Fill spray bottles half full with Colorations® Liquid Watercolor™ (do not dilute the color by adding water). If you have snow, go outside and have fun spray-painting snow. If it gets too cold and fingers in mittens don’t work too well with the trigger sprayers (my favorite sprayers are the ones from Ace® Hardware), let the children scoop the snow in buckets and bring it inside to your water table. Spray away. Observe how the colors blend to make new colors. Way cool!frozen 8

Paintsicles
Squeeze Colorations® Liquid Watercolor™ or BioColor® into ice cube trays. Cover trays with aluminum foil and insert craft sticks (poke through foil) into each cube. Place trays in freezer overnight. Pop paintsicles out of the trays. Provide heavy white paper or tagboard and using the craft stick as a handle, children paint the entire paper with bright blocks of color.

frozen 3

Ice Designs
Draw designs on heavy white paper with a washable marker. Using plain ice cubes, children “paint” over the designs and watch how the colors soften and blend..frozen 4Ice Castles
Materials Needed:
Ice—cubes, blocks, etc.
Table salt
Rock salt
Kosher salt (optional)
Eye droppers
Colorations® Liquid Watercolor™
Sensory tub or water/sand table
Small containers/cups to hold the salt and Liquid Watercolor™

Procedure:

  1. Freeze water in a variety of sizes and shapes of empty containers—plastic bowls, jello molds, cardboard milk containers, ice cube trays, etc. In cold climates, children could put the containers of water outside to freeze.
  2. Empty the ice shapes and ice cubes into the sensory tub or water table.
  3. Place small cups of salt and rock salt in the tub.
  4. Place small cups of Liquid Watercolor™ in tub.  Add an eye dropper to each cup.
  5. Problem solve with the children how best to use the ice to form ice castles, deciding which blocks of ice would be best on the bottom and which would work better on the top.  Children can sprinkle the salt on top of each chunk of ice before adding another piece.  Talk with them about how the salt begins to melt the ice.  Then when another piece is added, the water refreezes and becomes part of the newly added piece of ice, helping it to stick together creating ice castles.
  6. Children then use the droppers to drop the Liquid Watercolor™ into the cracks and holes created by the rock salt and salt making a colorful kingdom.

Learning Outcomes/Desired Results:

    • Cognitive-Science – Cause and Effect: Discuss the chemical reaction that ice has when salt is sprinkled on it.  Salt lowers the freezing point of ice, causing it to melt.
    • Cognitive-Science – Cause and Effect: Solids transforming into liquids.
    • Cognitive-Science – Cause and Effect: Mixing primary colors (red, yellow and blue) you make the secondary colors (orange, green and purple).
    • Physical-Fine Motor Skills: Using small muscles (pincher grasp) in fingers to squeeze the bulb of the dropper and to pick up grains of salt and chunks of rock salt.
    • Physical-Fine Motor Skills – Eye-Hand Coordination: Hands and eyes working together to accomplish a task; using fingers to manipulate dropper with color and squirting colors into salt crevices.
    • Cognitive-Problem Solving and Critical Thinking: Some children will have difficulty in figuring out how to get the color into the dropper and then onto the ice. Handling the eye dropper will be a challenge, so they should be shown how to use it and encouraged to keep trying until they succeed.
    • Language Development: Children talk excitedly about what they see happening.
    • Encourages creativity and persistence.
    • Social/Emotional Development: Fostered as this is an open-ended activity with no right or wrong way to do this activity.  It promotes children’s self-esteem.

frozen 5 frozen 6 Nature’s Frozen Beauty
Freeze nature items (leaves, pine needles, flowers, berries, small rocks) in silicone cupcake liners or an aluminum or silicone cupcake/muffin tray. Let the children put items (flower, leaf, etc.) of their choice into each of the cupcake liners. Then fill them halfway with water. Before putting them into the freezer or outside, insert a paper clip (open half-way) into each cupcake liner that will be used to hang up the frozen decorations. Once frozen, pop them out of their mold (cupcake liner or tray) and decorate your outdoor environment by having the children hang them on tree branches, fences or whatever else will support the icy decoration. As the temperature warms up and the sun comes out, the children will observe and discover what happens to their once frozen beautiful decorations.frozen 7

Product Recommendations:
Ultimate BioColor® Creativity Kit (BCKIT3)
Colorations® Liquid Watercolor™ Classroom Favorites Pack (LWKIT4)
E-Z Pull Extra Large Clear Trigger Sprayers, 12 oz. – Set of 6 (TSBOT)
Super Safe Plastic Droppers – Set of 12 (12SSD)
6 Paint Cups in a Base (PNTCPS)
Best Value Sand & Water Activity Table – Medium (LWTAB)
Sand and Water Buckets  – Set of 6 (BUCKSET)
Indestructible Scoops – Set of 4 (SCOOP4)
Regular Craft Sticks – 100 Pieces (CRAF)
White Sulfite Paper – 500 Sheets ((A80SU)
Extra Sturdy Tagboard – 100 Sheets (9WT)
Colorations® Super Washable Chubby Markers (16CHB)

Outdoor Art – Fly Swatter Painting!

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Fun, messy, creative and super-sized activities can take place outdoors. As an Outdoor Preschool Teacher for 12 years, I made opportunities for art every day in my outdoor classroom. The large space, different textures and objects, and ease of cleaning up all contribute to the success of art experiences outside. If you are a follower of my blog, plan on seeing me post oodles of more art ideas for the outdoors.

Materials:

Process:

  1. Place butcher paper or painting mat on the ground or adhere to a fence with clothespins or tape
  2. Pour paint onto the plastic art trays. One color per tray.
  3. Set the trays of paint on the ground or on a nearby table
  4. Place a different shape paint swatter in each tray (with color of swatter matching color of paint)
  5. Children press paint swatter into the paint and “swat” it onto the paper. They can keep “swatting” and making prints until they run out of paint on the swatter. Then have them choose a different shape swatter and different color.

Variations:

  • Put paper on the outdoor easel instead of the ground. Children who never paint at the indoor easel, might be excited to paint with a paint swatter and “swat the flies.”
  • Squeeze a few dabs of different colored paint onto the paper and invite the children to swat the paint flies.

3thesnailstrailyoyoprints20091127Suggestions:

Of course, you can buy some inexpensive fly swatters at your local dollar store. I especially like the Fun Shapes Paint Swatters from Discount School Supply®. They are just the right size for little hands and each of the 6 styles of swatters are a different shape and color. Children can use the swatter of their choice and easily return it to its correct color paint tray.

I’m not a big believer on insisting that children wear smocks every time they want to engage in an art activity. Make smocks available for those who may want one. For some children, the idea of wearing a smock discourages them from the activity. It interferes with their freedom. Encourage parents to send their children to school in clothes that can and will get dirty.

Goals/Learning Outcomes:

Physical Development—Fine Motor Skills—Building hand-eye coordination

Physical Development—Gross Motor Skills—Using large arm movements and whole body as children reach and stretch and slap the paint on the paper

Cognitive Development—Math—Color matching and one-to-one correspondence (swatter to paint trays)

Cognitive Development—Math—Geometry—Learning about shapes

Language Development—Children talking about how the colors are changing as the paint splats mix together and commenting on the noise that the swatters make as they hit the paper

Social Development—Cooperative—Children share the shape swatters and the space they are working in

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Discount School Supply® Product Recommendations:

Brawny Tough Large Plastic Art Trays – Set of 5 (RECTRAY)

Fun Shapes Paint Swatters – Set of 24 (FLYSWAT)

Butcher Roll Paper (#5024 or #5036)

Cooperative Mural Art Material – 4′ x 10′ (LWMAT)

Colorations® Simply Washable Tempera Paint – Set of 15 (SWTALL)

Colorations® Machine Washable Toddler Smock (PTODSMOCK)

4-Way Acrylic Panel Easel (4WAPE)

Dirt + Water = Mud-luscious!

SK Internat Mud Day Post

On Sunday, June 29, children all over the world celebrated International Mud Day by getting messy with mud — one of nature’s best play materials!

Playing in dirt and mud is actually healthy for you.  Researchers now recommend playing in the dirt as a way to boost the body’s immune system, that digging in the dirt (and even ingesting a little bit of it) actually can help decrease a child’s risk of allergies and asthma.  The basis for this stems from the idea that limiting child’s play to primarily the indoors limits their exposure to natural organisms that build a healthy immune system.  In addition to the physical health benefits, dirt and mud play simply makes a person happier.  Recent studies report that children are spending 90% of their time indoors and more than 8 hours per day in front of a screen. Let’s get the kids outside and decrease stress and anxiety, decrease obesity and depression, build a strong immune system, and have fun!  International Mud Day reminds us that we should embrace mud play every day.  Here are ideas to bring mud play into your early childhood program—

Mud in the Sensory Table:

SK Internat Mud Day Table

Buy some clean fill, black dirt or potting soil and dump into your sensory/sand and water table.  Add child sized gardening tools, an array of containers, flower pots, artificial flowers, rocks, seed pods, sticks, plastic insects or dinosaurs.

Mud Patch:

If you have the room and the resources create a permanent digging patch.  You can buy the dirt from a nursery or building supplier.  Mix in approximately 1/3 sand to 2/3 soil to provide a more “diggable” mix.

•  Make mud castles, houses or forts using buckets and assorted containers.  Use sticks for supports.  Include tunnels, secret rooms, and even a moat.

•  Make rivers and dams.  Dig a river in the dirt and add water.  Build a dam to form a small puddle.

•  Bring in the toy trucks and props to create a construction zone.

Mud on Cookie Sheets/Baking Trays or Art Trays:

Create personal mud patches, smooth with hands and watch kids finger paint in the mud, write in the mud with sticks, make mud prints by placing mud-covered hands and feet on a clean sheet of paper, drive a toy car through the mud…the possibilities are endless..

Mud Painting/Art Ideas:

•  Set out an easel or find a large cardboard box.  Instead of paint, fill your paint cups or sand buckets with mud and let the children explore with brushes or their fingers to make mud paintings.  Add items from nature (leaves, petals, pine needles) to mud paintings creating a mud collage.

•  Make mud balls by shaping mud into balls by rolling the “dough” in your hands. Decorate the balls with flowers, leaves, rocks, or small twigs. Stack the mud balls on top of each other to create a unique sculpture.

Cooking in the Mud Kitchen:

SK Internat Mud Kitchen 1

Similar to your indoor/dramatic play housekeeping area, the kitchen requires a cooking appliance—an old plastic stove or box made into an oven.  If you can find an old cabinet or dresser, the children will have a place to work and store materials. Tree stumps or tree cookies can also be used as table surfaces.  Old pots and pans, mixing bowls, spoons, utensils, funnels, and other kitchenware give the kitchen an authentic feel and offer lots of different opportunities for play.

SK Internat Mud Kitchen 2

•  Make Mud Pies & Cupcakes—use old cake or pie tins, muffin tins, and even shallow plastic containers.  Once the pies or cupcakes are “baked,” it’s time decorate them with pebbles, petals, and leaves.  Yum!

•  Make Mud Stew—collect dirt, grass, leaves, twigs, and acorns in a large container.  Add some water and Soup’s on!

There are so many benefits of mud play besides the tactile, sensory experiences of squelching mud between fingers and toes. Children develop hand-eye coordination, learn about cause and effect, have fun co-operating, communicating, socializing, sharing, problem solving, discovering, laughing, experimenting, building, negotiating, imagining, and yes, getting a little dirty in the process.  If you find it hard to allow mud play in your early childhood program, you are depriving the children of a childhood that is well-lived and messy!

SK Internat Mud Day Hands

Discount School Supply® Product Recommendations:
Best Value Sand & Water Table – Large (BVST18)
Brawny Tough Art Trays – Set of 5 (RECTRAY)
Colorations® Air-Tight No-Mess Paint Cups – Set of 10 (10PC)
Natural Bristle Brushes – Set of 10 (10PCB)
Colorations® Indoor/Outdoor Adjustable Acrylic Panel Easels (4WAPE)
Jumbo Dump Truck (BIGTRUCK)
Construction Trucks – Set of 3 (TRUCK3)
Sand and Water Buckets (BUCKSET)
Premium Sand Set – 51 Pieces (SET51)
Classroom Starter Kit – Medium Animals (MEDANI)
Papier-Mache Flower Pots – Set of 12 (MACHEPOT)

Books that Move You!

Sometimes it just takes a book to start the action. I’ve compiled a list of favorite children’s picture books that will encourage kids to get up off their seat, onto their feet…and get moving!

Animal Action ABC by Karen Pandell

In this extraordinary board book, children learn action words and get the wiggles out by imitating animals.  From Arch to Balance, 26 action words, each headed by a different letter of the alphabet, are introduced, each accompanied by a pleasant verse that links the word to an animal.  Dramatic photos of wildlife in action and delightful spot photos of young children imitating the animals’ movements punctuate the action.

Bal Yoga for Kids by Glenda Kacev & Sylvia Roth

This book is a child and teacher friendly program which is both a fun and easy method teaching kids yoga postures from A – Z with a sing along & narrated CD and DVD demonstration. A song accompanies each letter and pose with whimsical illustrations and photographs that stretch the body and imagination.

Barnyard Dance by Sandra Boynton

“Stomp your feet! Clap your hands! Everybody ready for a BARNYARD DANCE!” An assortment of irrepressible farm animals join in a rollicking square dance.  As an education tool, children will learn to recognize farm animals, and associate simple verbs to the action, such as bow, bounce, swing, and leap.  And most importantly get up and dance!

The Busy Body Book: A Kid’s Guide to Fitness by Lizzy Rockwell

Learn how your bones and muscles, heart and lungs, nerves and brain all work together to keep you on the go. Kids walk and skate and tumble through these pages with such exuberance that even sprouting couch potatoes will want to get up and bounce around—and that’s the ultimate goal. Studies show that American kids are becoming more sedentary and more overweight and that they carry these tendencies with them into adolescence and adulthood. Experts agree that we need to help kids make physical activity a life-long habit. Through education, information, and encouragement, this book aims to inspire a new generation of busy bodies!

Can You Make a Scary Face? by Jan Thomas

This exuberant, interactive picture book starring a bossy little ladybug and a GIANT hungry frog will have kids leaping up and down and out of their seats, doing the chicken dance, and make silly scary faces of their own.

Clap Your Hands by Lorinda Bryan Cauley

Full of reasons to get up and dance.  Little ones will jump at the chance

to join this menagerie of zany animals and children as they stomp, wiggle, roar, and spin their way through the day, as the rhyming text reinforces important concepts.

From Head to Toe by Eric Carle

From their heads down to their toes, kids will be wriggling, jiggling, and giggling as they try to keep up with these animals!  Alligators wiggle, elephants stomp, gorillas thump, and giraffes bend. “Can you do it? I can do it!” is the confidence-building message of this fun-filled interactive picture book.

Move! by Steve Jenkins & Robin Page

A playful introduction to motion in the animal kingdom that invites young readers to guess some of the unusual ways that animals get around. Follow them as they swing, dance, float, leap, and slide from page to page, then learn why these animals move the way they do.This book is wonderful for learning about how your body can move and how each animal can move.

The Squiggle by Carole Lexa Schaefer

When a group of young children set off with their teacher on an orderly walk through the park, the very last little girl spies a “squiggle” (a piece of string) on the ground and picks it up. As she twirls, twists, and turns the long red ribbon, she imagines it to be a dragon, a thundercloud, a “full fat moon,” and much more. She hastily rejoins the group and, much to their delight, demonstrates her treasure’s potential. Then the youngsters continue the walk, not as a “bunched-up, slow, tight, straight line,” but in exuberant squiggle-style, instead.  Give each child a streamer ribbon or streamer scarf and let them create their own “squiggles” as your read the book again and again.

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Get Up and Go! by Nancy Carlson

We all come in different shapes and sizes, and it doesn’t matter if you are tall, short, skinny, or round. Your body is your own, and you need to take care of it. This book is the perfect catalyst to get readers moving. Vibrant, fun-filled illustrations and an encouraging text explain the many great reasons to exercise, from making new friends to going new places, or just because it’s good for your body.

Little Yoga by Rebecca Whitford

Here is a playful introduction to nine simple yoga exercises for toddlers.  A fun book even for those that know nothing about yoga as it relates the poses to well known animals.  For example, “standing forward bend” is renamed “monkey” because the pose resembles a monkey bending over. The back of the book has photos of actual children doing the poses as well as tips and an explanation for teaching the poses correctly.

My Aunt Came Back Adapted by John M. Feierabend

Sung as an echo song (to the classic tune of “How Dry I Am”), and accompanied by hand and body movements, children will laugh out loud at the antics of the Aunt, who in each verse travels to another strange place and brings back some unusual things.

Tony Chestnut by Laurie Monopoli

The much-loved children’s song, Tony Chestnut , comes to life in an interactive children’s picture book with accompanying CD. “The Book About Tony Chestnut” invites children to actively join-in, participate and connect with the storybook’s characters (Eileen, Neil, Pat, Bob, Russell and Skip).  Tony Chestnut uses the sounds of his name (Toe, Knee, Chest, Nut) to sing this really cool song. As he starts singing he points to the corresponding body parts. “Toe Knee Chest Nut Nose Eye Love You Toe Knee Nose.” The song starts out slowly, in order to get the kids used to pointing to the body parts, and then quickly picks up speed. It’s fun trying to keep up!

We’re Going on a Bear Hunt retold by Michael Rosen

If you’ve ever heard the song “We’re Going On a Bear Hunt” then you know the way the story goes.  It encourages movement and active involvement.  Stand up and act out the story and use hand and body motions as you read…to cross the tall wavy grass (swishy swashy), ford the deep cold river (splash splosh), tromp through the ooey-gooey mud (squelch squelch), wander through the deep dark forest (stumble trip!), run through a whirling snowstorm (Hoooo woooo), and at last enter a deep dark cave (tiptoe). “What’s that? It’s a bear!” And now it’s time to run back over every place you’d been before to escape.

We’re Going on a Lion Hunt by David Axtell

In this beautifully illustrated rendition of a well-known children’s chant, two sisters are looking not for a bear but for a lion–a lion that lives on the African savanna, where the girls go through swishy-swashy long grass, a splishy-splashy lake, and a Big Dark Cave. When they finally meet their lion, they have to run, run, run through it all again to get back home. Like Michael Rosen’s “We’re Going on a Bear Hunt” this picture book will encourage preschoolers to participate and move.

You Are A Lion! And Other Fun Yoga Poses by Taeeun Yoo

With simple instructions, this wonderfully illustrated book introduces kids to yoga in a fun and interactive way. Each pose is introduced like an animal and kids can then do the movement as well as make the animal sounds— flutter like a butterfly, hiss like a snake, roar like a lion and more.

Discount School Supply® Product Recommendations:

“Bal Yoga for Kids” Book, CD and DVD (AP9555J)
“We’re Going on a Bear Hunt” Book (BEARHUNT)
Rainbow Dancing Wrist Bands – Set of 6 (RNBW)
Streamer Scarves – Set of 12 (SWISH)

Sand & Water Fun for Infants and Toddlers

As an Early Care and Education Consultant and Trainer, I am asked to conduct workshops on a variety of topics for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers.  My main goal in presenting at conferences and trainings (and also in writing this blog) is to share ideas and activities to use with the children in your care.  I have been asked to present my workshop, “NO CHILD LEFT INSIDE! Extending the Curriculum Outdoors” for Infant and Toddler Teachers.  The program coordinator specifically asked me to focus on the sand and water table and the sensory materials that can be included for this age group.

Is your sand and water table buzzing with activity or is it stagnant like the water you always seem to have in it?  Perhaps your sand and water table is closed because you think it creates a mess.  Whether you need to rekindle interest in your sand and water table or remind yourself about the value of sensory play…read on to discover the sensory learning opportunities found in the sand and water table.

The sand and water table can be equipped with two basins or tubs side by side or it can be one large table.  Whatever the configuration, most of these tables can be used inside or outdoors. Sensory play, sometimes known as “messy play,” happens in the sand and water table.  It is a center for exploring with your senses, experimenting, scooping, and pouring, squeezing and smushing (building fine motor skills and eye-hand coordination for handwriting), sharing and turn taking.  Children can watch chemical reactions, mix colors, repeat observed phenomenon, and try new things.  Sensory play promotes spatial awareness, mathematical thinking, and scientific exploration and discovery.  It also is simply a great way for children to relieve their stress.  Sensory play can be very soothing and relaxing to a young child.

Ideally, the items in the sand and water table should be switched out every week, though there are some materials (i.e., water) that need to be emptied daily. What you can and cannot include in your sand and water table depends on the children and the different policies of your program about the use of food during play and explorations, as well as concerns about children’s food allergies and sanitation.  Some of the items listed may be problematic for toddlers and those children who insist on putting everything in their mouth, ears or nose.  Provide close supervision and use only larger items for the very young.

Materials, Ideas & Activities for the Sand & Water Table:

Depending on the contents of the sand and water table, add small shovels, rakes, sand and water mills, small watering cans, squeeze bottles, sifters, sand molds, buckets, plastic or rubber animals, small people, boats, vehicles, kitchen utensils (wire whisks, slotted spoons, scoops, tongs, tweezers, funnels, mixing cups, basters, ladles, muffin tins, plastic cookie cutters, ice cube trays, sieves) and a variety of containers to foster complex sensory play.

I think it’s important to have two sand and water tables—one for inside and one for outside.  That way, depending on the weather and your setup, some kind of sensory activity can be available for the children to explore.  Infants and toddlers rely on sensory input to learn about their environment. Sensory play helps build neural connections that support thought, learning, and creativity.  It supports language development, cognitive growth, fine/gross motor skills, problem solving/reasoning, and social interaction.  Sensory experiences are like food for the brain.  With a little bit of planning, sensory play in the sand and water table can happen everyday!

Discount School Supply® Product Recommendations:
Best Value Sand & Water Activity Table and Lid (SWTAB, SWTABL)
Neptune Sand and Water Table with Lid (NEPTUNE)
Sand & Water Buckets (BUCKSET)
32 Ounce Bubble Solution (BUB32)
Bubble Wands (BUBWNDS)
Small Shovels (SMSHOV24)
Watering Can (WCAN)
Colorations® Easy-Grip Dough Cutters (EGCUTTER)
Sand & Water Mills (MILLSET3)
Pour and Measure Play Set (POURPACK)
Funnels (FUNNELS)
Excellerations® Fun Foam Fishing Set (REELFUN)
Sailboats (SAILS)
Sturdy Scoops (FUNSCOOP)
Super Classroom Sand Set (SDSET)
Sandtastik® White Play Sand (PLAYSAND)
Soft Touch Cute Baby Sea Creatures (BABYSEA)
Soft Touch Cute Baby Wild Animals (BABYZOO)
Soft Touch Cute Baby Farm Animals (BABYFARM)
Soft Multicultural Career Figures (HELPER)
Small Multicultural Career Figures (PEOPLE)
Bathing Dolls (BATHSET)
Primary Toddler Dish Set (DISHSET)
Magic Nuudles™ (ALLNU)
Kinetic Sand ™ (KINSAND)
Colored Play Sand (CSANDALL)
Sparkling Sculpture Sand (BLINGSET)
Shape it!™ Sand (MOONSNST)
Small Gotcha Nets (NETS)
Gator Grabber Tweezers (GATGRABS)
Medium Insects & Spiders (INSECTS)
Foam Wooden Blocks (WDFMBLK)
Foam Tabletop Unit Blocks (FOBL)
Tree Blocks with Bark (TRBLK)
Tree Blocks without Bark (TRBLKNB)
Chubby Land, Sea & Air Vehicles (CHUBBY)
Fun Dough Scissors (DSCISSOR)
Colorations® Tissue Paper Grass (TGRASS)
Super Safe Plastic Droppers (12SSD)
Colorations®
Liquid Watercolor Classic Colors (13LW)
Colorations® No-Drip Foam Paint (BFP)
Colored Macaroni (SMAC)
Colored Rice (RRIC)
Colorations® Washable Finger Paint (CWFPS)
Colorations® Sensory Sand Finger Paint (SANSET)
Fabric Squares (FAB)
Jumbo 2” Pom-Poms (LGPOMS)
Craft Fluffs (FLUFFPK)
Wood Craft Rounds (WOOD50)

Excellerations™ Get Up and Go! Dice

I am passionate about putting into teacher’s and children’s hands materials that promote physical activity and learning.  Excellerations™ Get Up and Go! Dice does just that and is a quality product from Discount School Supply®.

The Excellerations™ Get Up and Go! Dice set includes:

  • 2 dice with pockets on all sides
  • 20 different movement activity cards
  • 12 numeral cards (2 each of the numbers 1-6)
  • 12 dice dot cards (2 each of the dots numbering 1-6)
  • 12 blank cards

The two large seven-inch vinyl-covered foam dice have pockets on all six sides that hold activity and number cards.  Insert six different activity cards in each of the pockets on one die.  On the other die put the numeral cards, either showing the dots or the numeral.  Depending on the developmental skills level of the children, I use the numeral cards for numbers 1, 2, and 3 and the dot cards for numbers 4, 5, and 6.  Young children may not recognize the larger numerals, but they are usually able to count the dots or “pips.”  Did you know that the dots on dice are called “pips?”  The word “pip” commonly means a “spot” or a “speck,” and perhaps that’s why the dots on dice, as well as dominoes, are called pips.  Don’t shy away from the big word, i.e., “pips” for “dots.”  It is very common for adults to simplify their language when talking to young children.  Throwing in a new word now and then is a great opportunity to build vocabulary! If you’re going to explain what something is, you might as well use the proper word the first time. Children may not always pick up on those big words, but they certainly won’t if they don’t ever hear them.  So go ahead, use words like “identical” instead of “same” and “pips” instead of “dots.” You’ll be surprised at what the children will pick up on when you give them the chance!

kids stretching

Here is a fun favorite activity that I like to play indoors or outside.  You’ll find more ideas in the Activity Guide that comes with it.

Roll the Dice for Exercise

How to play:

  1. Sit children in a large circle.
  2. One child is chosen to roll the dice.
  3. Child with dice stands up and rolls the dice into the middle of the circle.
  4. The child identifies the activity to be performed and the number of times to perform the activity by counting the pips or stating the number shown on the die.
  5. All children in the circle stand up and perform the activity that is lead by the child who rolled the dice.  All the children are to count as they perform the movement.
  6. When finished, the child who had rolled the dice gives it to another child who continues the game by rolling the dice and leading the group in the movement activity that is shown on the movement die and counting the number of times they are to do the activity (as shown on the number die).
  7. The game ends when every child has had a chance to “Roll the Dice for Exercise.”

Suggestions & Variations:

  • If the child who rolled the die has difficulty counting, let the group count the dots or pips out loud on the number die, as the child points to them.
  • Take pictures of the children doing a favorite movement activity (i.e., jumping jacks, jogging in place, etc.) and adhere it to a blank card.  This personalizes it to the group of children in your classroom.
  • This activity is also a great one to use when children are in transition –i.e., waiting for the bus or their group’s turn, etc.

Objectives/Learning Outcomes:

  1. Physical activity: any bodily movement produced by skeletal muscles that results in energy expenditure
  2. Gross motor skills: using the large muscles of the arms, legs and trunk
  3. Cooperative play: games and activities that the participants play together rather than against one another
  4. Listening skills: ability to follow verbal directions
  5. Language development: speaking, communicating
  6. Mathematics: number sense of quantity and counting; one-to-one correspondence
  7. Social emotional development: taking turns; promotes children’s self-esteem and confidence

Get active, get moving, get healthy…and start rolling the Excellerations™ Get Up and Go! Dice.  Everyone will be a winner!