Category Archives: science

How to Teach Preschool Science

I don’t make assumptions about what my children will learn from an activity.  I don’t presume that they will learn anything, I’m happy if they are absorbed and having fun.

Sometimes a simple activity can unexpectedly become a rich learning experience full of questions and discoveries. These for me are precious moments. I have recently become aware that the simplest craft activities lead us unexpectedly into an exploration of scientific concepts. For example,we recently acquired a movie reel canister, perfect for paint rolling .  I gave the girls a small box of marbles and small balls (a ping-pong eyeball and a golf ball) and a few pots of paint. The discussion that ensued was interesting.

paint rolling

 Child 1 : 5-years-old    Child 2 : 3-years-old.

eyeball

Child 1: The eyeballs go much slower.  I think because the eyeball is bigger it goes much slower but the marble is smaller so it goes faster.

Child 2: It’s too sticky

Why do you think it is sticky?

Child 2: Maybe there’s too much paint.

golf ball

Child 1: This one is not as sticky as the other one but it is much bigger.  Maybe it’s because I didn’t put as much paint on.

What makes the 2 balls different?

Child 1: One is bumpy and one is smooth…………..but that would make it slower.

It gets stuck and the other one goes really fast.  Maybe the material it is made from is sticky but now that we don’t have as much paint on, it goes fast.  Perhaps the paint sticks to the material and stops it slipping and sliding.

Maybe because the golf ball is hard it doesn’t stick to the paper, maybe the paint doesn’t like it and slips off.

When we went to wash the balls we checked to see which would float.

Child 1: The golf ball and the marble sink and the eyeball floats.  This one floats because it is all filled up with air.

Child 2: This one sinks because it is bigger…………………….. but what about the marble, that sinks?

Child 1: It is because it is heavier.

The connection between the mass of the ball and how fast it travelled did not register but there are many other projects we can explore to help them work it out.

These incidental science experiments happen a lot. There was the time I left an empty milk carton outside and they turned it into a tap by inserting a straw. The girls decided they needed to find a way to turn it on and off. Further experimentation helped them work out how to get the tap to drain all of the water.  My role as teacher was not to give them the answers but to ask questions like ‘How could you make it better?’ What could you use to…? or what would happen if…?

tap science

Having open-ended materials readily available makes it easy for them to instigate projects .  This week, I put pieces of foam in the water table soaked in bubble mixture and showed them how to squeeze the foam to make bubbles.  I knew my eldest would love this.  She had another idea, taking a piece of plastic tubing she blew into it creating lots of foam. The children’s ideas are always the best! She asked me for test tubes and filled them with  bubble mixture and opened her own beauty parlour with potions that made your hair soft or skin younger.

foam bubbles

 

In the TED talk, Science is Play , Beau Lotto views Science as a way of being. He explains,

“We normally walk through life responding. If we ever want to do something different, we have to step into uncertainty…. Science lets us step into uncertainty through the process of play.”

Our youngest children are full of uncertainty so they are naturally questioning things all of the time. Isn’t that the foundation of science? Our skill as teachers is not to feed them the answers but to give them the tools to make their own discoveries. Do we need to plan specific science lessons? Isn’t science and discovery the very essence of childhood?Children don’t call it science, they call it play and in play they work things out for themselves.

I love this quote from the American Scientist article entitled ‘Science as Play

When I grew up, every kid put in some serious sandbox time, and it often involved building (what seemed like) complex sand structures around which fantasies were composed and competitions took place with neighborhood kids. The organic chemistry labs (at Yale during the junior year) were fun in the same way. We constructed molecules and competed with each other in the class on speed and yield. We mixed things up, and chemical transformations took place. We separated, we isolated, we analyzed. The odors were pleasant, and the physical process of working with our hands, as with sand, was satisfying. The biweekly organic labs became the high points of my week. By the end of the year, I knew that I wanted to be an organic chemist, as I realized one could play in the sandbox for a living. (Joseph B Lambert)

Playing in the sandbox for a living? ‘Isn’t that what I do?

 

 

 

Water Play in the Rain

Once children are helped to perceive themselves as authors or inventors, once they are helped to discover the pleasure of enquiry, their motivation and interest explode.  – Loris Malaguzzi.

We’ve had a few rainy days so I decided to leave the lid off the water table to catch the rain.  We’ve had so much rain that it was nearly overflowing.  My girls looked out at the rain and decided to play in the water.  They know from experience that rain water is very cold so my youngest put on her waterproof gloves so that she could tolerate the cold water for longer.

I gave her a bottle and a funnel to add to the other materials.  I have recently noted her eagerness to transport things from one place to another and predicted she would probably use the bottle to empty the water from the table.  True to form she filled the bottle, carried it to the bench and poured the water through the slats before returning for more.

water play

Her sister is less eager to play outside but loves umbrellas so when I suggested she take her umbrella outside, she was out like a shot. Of course her sister needed her umbrella too.

I want to make an invention

What kind of invention?

Like we made before for serving drinks.

Last summer the girls had inserted a straw into a hole in a milk carton and made a drink dispenser. They worked out how to turn the tap off and where to place the tap so that they could drain the container of all the water.

What do you need?

A cup – this will be good (finding a coffee container)  a tube or something and some small cups.

I found a piece of plastic tubing and plastic wine glasses.

I need another pipe. One to blow into and the other one for the water to come out of.

I gave her another piece of tubing that her sister had been using to make a contraption the previous day.

It’s not working mummy, when I blow nothing happens.

Are there any bubbles coming when you blow.

No

The air isn’t getting through the pipe.

We put the container onto the floor so that she could keep the pipe straight without any kinks and still reach to blow into it.

I have to be honest I didn’t expect it to work but look what happened.

You have to blow so, so hard to make it work that it hurts your mouth, but that’s okay.

Meanwhile her sister was trying to catch floating objects with the tongs.

More fun

IMG_1701

IMG_1700

More play activities for a rainy day

How Should You Teach Preschool ‘Art’? Process Versus Product

When considering the question of how to teach preschool art it is helpful to first consider the meaning of ‘art’ for our youngest children.

What is Children’s Art?

As adults, artists are generally referred to in terms of the product they create – painters, sculptors, musicians or dancers. When we create ‘art’ we might think about what we are going draw or make before we begin.

When children explore art there is much less emphasis on the finished product – they might say they are going to draw or make something specific but often this evolves into something else during the process.

As I watch my children involved in what we may traditionally term ‘art’, I find that creative expression isn’t their only interest and there is certainly very little focus on the finished product. Sometimes they are practising skills. My youngest for example likes to snip paper into tiny pieces but if I suggest she might like to make a picture with the pieces, she isn’t interested.  As children get older the finished product becomes more important. My pre-schoolers will often remark that they don’t know what it is going to be yet, whereas my 9-year-old often has an idea before she starts. Does this change occur naturally or do adults teach them that this is what ‘art’ is?

My younger girls’ ‘art’ is about exploration. They ask  questions like ‘what happens if?’  Through this exploration they see themselves as competent in the knowledge that there is no right or wrong way to do things. This give them the confidence to explore further.

The Salad Spinner Project

An example of  a process oriented  art project was inspired by a visit to the Children’s Museum where the children made pictures using a salad spinner. The directions were simple:

1. Put paint onto a paper plate

I've chosen 3 colours
I’ve chosen 3 colours

2 .Place the plate inside the spinner and put on the lid. Place the spinner onto a cloth or newspaper, the holes in the bottom of the spinner allow the paint to come through.

salad spinner painting

3. Spin

salad spinner art

4. Check results

salad spinner art

They watched as the pictures took shape changing according to the colours chosen and how much paint they put on.

There is potential for this activity to become a product oriented if the adult takes over.  The key to making it process oriented is to offer choice and allow the children to freely explore the materials.

How the Project Evolved

The pictures the girls had made at the museum had colours that ran into one another producing a marbled effect but the paints we used at home were thicker so produced very clear lines with little mixing.

They explored all the possibilities:

I’m choosing two colours.

What if I just put a bit of paint on?

I’ve put lots of paint on this one.

Which one is your favourite?

salad spinner art

The next time we got the salad spinner out I suggested they might like to add things to the spinner to see what happened.

I know lets put balls in.

First they tried a golf ball

salad spinner paint
It makes a kind of bumpy pattern

They put it back in a number of times spinning the spinner at different speeds to see how the pattern evolved.

Next they tried marbles. The marble made tracks across the plate

marble and salad spinner paint
It looks like a puzzle

The next attempt came out differently

salad spinner art
When we put marbles in it makes a noise. Sometimes they get stuck in the sides and we have stop.

Hmm, Maybe if I spin it faster

Still no change.

I could try more marbles

Still no change.

Suddenly my 5-year-old had an idea

I know; it’s because I used too much paint.  The one with tracks on didn’t have so much paint on so I need to use less paint.

salad spinner plates

The learning and creative thinking in this project is clearly evident so why would we plan art with a finished product as our starting point?

Process v Product

Sometimes as early educators and parents it is difficult not to plan art projects in terms of the finished product.  Certainly years ago when I worked with older children we would often plan workshops and sessions in terms of what we would make. We all like our children to come home from preschool with something they have made.  Teachers sometimes argue that parents expect their children to come home with something at the end of the day. It is difficult to be enthusiastic about yet another drippy painting or cardboard box construction.

This is often given as a justification for producing heavily adult directed arts and crafts.  Starting from an adult viewpoint in this way often means that the children don’t do very much themselves.  I have observed teachers presenting children with pre-drawn templates, ready cut outlines and telling them what they need to stick where – sometimes the child isn’t even allowed to do the sticking themselves. The children may come home with something pretty to put on the wall but what have the children learned, how much enjoyment have they had and have they actually made it themselves? Furthermore, if we show children at a young age that there is only one way to do things we destroy their enthusiasm to do things for themselves.  Is this why we often hear older children say ‘I can’t draw’, ‘ I don’t know what to make’ or ‘It doesn’t look right’.

When you allow children to freely explore materials they begin to understand the properties of media, they learn that art can be a series of explorations and they are allowed to become absorbed in the joy and relaxation of the artistic process. Sometimes they will want to make something specific but allow them choice in the materials and tools they use and encourage them to try out things for themselves.

Creative thinking isn’t neat and tidy.  An artist will paint many sections of a painting exploring colour texture and shape before finally coming up with a finished product.  Think about the work of an author who writes and rewrites many times with crossings out, arrows and notes all over the paper.  A finished product will come eventually but it is a long way off.  Allow children to explore in this way, let them make a mess and do things their own way.

As Peter Dixon puts it

Your children are at  a stage where the process of doing things

LOOKING, SEEING, FINDING, FEELING, INVESTIGATING etc.

is far more important than the end product sought by some parents. …The process of their work – might look messy, scribbly or completely unrecognisable to us but to your children it is utterly meaningful and an essential part of their mental and physical growth and development.  Please honour – please respect your child’s own way of thinking. It might seem unusual but it is their birthright. It is the foundation upon which they will build all future understanding.

The Adults Role

Process oriented art doesn’t mean that you leave children alone with a huge amount of materials.  The adults role is to organise the materials so that the children can find what they need easily. Sometimes this means setting out particular materials for example you may want them to explore with charcoal and erasers. It can also mean setting up an organised art station with neatly labelled pots and drawers that the children can choose materials from.

If the adult works alongside the child creating their own projects then they can inspire children and demonstrate techniques. They will be able to encourage children to develop their projects by asking questions

What happens if…..?

Have you tried this……?

What else could you add?

persuading them to try different materials and techniques.

If you log children’s comments and questions, displaying them alongside finished pictures and photographs of the process, it will help to show the value of process oriented art.

Examples of Process Oriented Art

 

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Outdoor Play: Ice Activities – how a simple art ice project turned into a science investigation.

ice decorations

Ice Ornaments and Icicles

What had originally been an icy art project, unexpectedly turned into a fascinating science investigation.

A few weeks ago we filled up my baking tins with water  that we coloured with powder paint and dropped all manner of things into them.  Shells, berries, leaves, sequins, buttons and even a stone were placed inside to make ornaments for our tree.  The weather unfortunately instantly became warmer, so we had to wait some time before they were ready to hang.  Even then,  only the top layer of ice had frozen and within an hour of hanging them on the tree they had melted.  We also discovered that if you colour water with powder paint it separates once it begins to freeze, so most of the ornaments were not the lovely colour we had hoped for.

The girls have been peeking outside every morning to check if there is any ice.  This week they were rewarded with below freezing temperatures.  The ice ornaments were finally ready!  We hung them on the tree.  The sun was shining and the tree stands in the sun until mid afternoon.  I wasn’t sure how long they would stay this time as ‘plop’ one fell down from the tree.

Let’s put it by the door. That’s in the shade – it might make a nice present for Father Christmas.

Ice ornament
A present for Santa

As we went inside I asked the girls to watch the ornaments from the window.

They are melting.

How do you know?

They’re wet and they’re dripping down.

What do you think will happen as they melt?

I don’t think it will fall off the string because the string is attached. It will just melt and the floor will be wet.

When we went out later there were more interesting observations

Look this one has holes in it.  It might break not melt.

melting ice ornament with holes

Can I touch one?

Yes sure.

child touching ice
It’s cold and wet.

Within an hour or so the tree was in the shade and the temperature was beginning to drop. We noticed that the drips were starting to turn into little icicles.

icicles

The girls thought this was really cool and the next day even more so when we saw large icicles had formed.

icicles

They rushed outside to feel them, touching them gently so that they didn’t break off.

A Winter Pirate Treasure Hunt

The weather was so cold that during the late afternoon I sneaked into the garden with a jug of water and some pirate coins.  I put the coins in various containers and poured a little water on the top.

In the morning I invited the girls on a pirate treasure hunt. First they needed to make a map.  I had some coffee stained and singed paper that in true Blue Peter fashion I had prepared earlier.

Next they needed their pirate toolkit:
A hammer
A spoon
A pot of pirate sea salt

pirate toolkit
Ready Mummy

Out they went and quickly found coins. The hammers were their first choice. They weren’t very successful so then they tried the salt. They found that if they used the spoons and the salt they could gradually get down to the coin and hook it out.

pirate treasure hunt
Got it!

This could take ages, if we got a jug of hot water it might be quicker.

We were talking about the sea salt later in the day.

How do the pirates get salt from the sea?

Good question.  The salt is in the water so how do you think they could get it out?

I don’t know.

Shall we try it?

Yes.

Little Scientists

What do we need to do to make the salt disappear into the water?

We need to dissolve it

How? Do you remember how we made jelly dissolve or the sugar water we make for the hummingbirds?

We put hot water on it. Let’s be scientists and do an experiment.

The girls helped to stir the mixture until all the salt had dissolved. We poured the mixture into a pan and put it on the stove.

What happens to water when it gets cold?

It turns to ice

What about when it gets hot?

I don’t know.

Watch. What can you see.

steam

steam

If I put this spoon over the steam what can you see on the spoon.

It’s wet – water.

Yes the water is turning to steam. Now look what’s happening in the pan. What do you think the white stuff is?

salt distillation

I don’t know. Is it steam. 

No. The water has gone now so what is left?

salt.

salt

We had another idea for an experiment.  If we put the salt back in water and then left it outside would it freeze?

We will find out tomorrow.

Linking to :

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Sensory Play: Goop

goopWe haven’t played with ‘goop’ for a while. Usually we play with ‘goop’ in the garden so that the girls can make as much mess as they like and explore it with their whole body.  Today there was an indoor ‘goop’ session at Romp so we decided to visit to see what was in store.

For those who don’t know what ‘goop’ is, it is a mixture of cornflour/cornstarch and water and makes an interesting consistency that is half solid and half liquid.

At the session today the ‘goop’ was arranged in trays with food colouring, paint brushes and sticks for mixing and scraping.  The girls were in their element – messy play, scientific exploration and colour mixing all rolled into one.

I gave the girls permission to explore it with their hands, yes they had coloured hands for a while but the comments and questions were far richer once they got their hands dirty.

I love the questions that arose from the play. I’ll definitely be putting ‘goop’ in the water tray soon to see if we can work out any answers.

*(This is not a sponsored post)

Shadow Play: Investigating shadow and light in preschool.

shadows
Shadows provide extraordinary educational opportunities.  Not only do they raise a spontaneous curiosity in the child, stimulating his imagination and exercising his emerging intellectual abilities but they are also omnipresent (even more than sand, stones, water or “pencil and paper”, because you only need a bit of sunlight or even a candle to produce them). Perhaps more effectively than other things, shadows can nourish the child’s need to do and to experiment given the ease with which the variables involved in their formation and transformation can be manipulated.

( Guido Peter – The Hundred Languages of Children)

My youngest has become increasingly fascinated by shadows. As we walk along she shouts

I can see your shadow

or

my shadow is long

With this in mind I thought it would be a nice idea to make shadow shapes and draw around them with pavement chalk.  Some shapes worked better than others, my youngest daughter’s shadow looked a little like an embryo!

embryo shadow

The girls drew around them. They were particularly interested by the fact that they couldn’t see the whole of their legs.  It was a very hot day so only my 4- year- old wanted to colour in the detail.  They were very proud of them and pointed them out to their dad every time he walked over the driveway.

My 4- year -old has very poor eyesight and needs practice copying and tracing shapes to enhance her perceptual motor skills . I hate the idea of sitting her down with worksheets so I thought shadow tracing might be a nice alternative.  We took a number of objects outside to draw around. We even attempted to draw around her bike, which was a little tricky.

Later in the week we were playing with blocks in the house.

My 2-year old declared

I have a shadow, it’s behind me

Where is the shadow coming from?   What makes it appear?

Maybe the fan.

Okay, so let’s turn the fan off and see if they disappear.  Has it gone?

No

My 4-year-old had an idea

I know maybe it’s the light, let’s turn it off.  It’s gone!……………oh hang on it’s still there, it’s just fainter.

Shall we see if we have a shadow outside today?

We don’t have a shadow……. Oh wait, when you sit  down there is a bit of a shadow.

Why do you think that happens?

I don’t know.  Let’s see if there are any shadows on the grass.  No, not even the dog.

Do the trees have shadows?

Yes and the bushes.

My 2-year-old had an idea,

Maybe the sun has taken away our shadows.

No, that’s not right because the sun makes the shadows.

Maybe when the sun is not there it takes them away?

I know, let’s draw a sun and see if they come back.

drawing a sun
drawing a sun to bring the shadows back

I know we can stand in the sun and make it bright colours to see if it comes out.

In the meantime my 9-year-old came to join us. I told them the girls had a bit of a problem that they were trying to solve and wondered if she could work it out.

Why is it that when it is cloudy there are no shadows but when things are close to the ground there is a small shadow?

Maybe it’s because it is darker when you are close to the ground

But there is no sun and you need light to make a shadow.

Yes, but if it was dark I couldn’t make a shadow because it couldn’t get darker.

If we were in the sun and it was too bright what would we do?

Stand in the shade.

What makes the shade?

A tree.

So what is happening to make the shade?

I don’t understand.

I drew a picture of the sun in the sky with a stick person stood underneath and a tree with a stick person underneath the tree.

Oh, the tree gets in the way of the sun.

At that moment as the girls were standing in their picture of the sun, the sun came out.

standing in the sun
They stood in the sun and hey presto the sun came out. Look, it worked the sun came out!

I think we might work on reflections as a starting point for our pre-school year .  We could

  • Resurrect the shadow puppet theatre
  • Use the projector to make and investigate shadows
  • Place paper on the windows and observe and trace shadows
  • Continue to talk about and ask questions about shadows when we are out and about.
  • Make a homemade light table
  • Investigate mirrors and natural materials
  • Observe reflections in water

and wherever else it might take us.

Ideas for Playing Outside in the Rain.

rain

 

Oh no, it’s raining, that means we can’t do all our fun things like playing on the trampoline and in the sandpit!

There are fun things you can do in the rain too.

Like what?

You can splash in puddles, play with mud or catch raindrops.

Can we make potions in the rain?

Rainy days are perfect for making potions.

I know we could use the rain water because there isn’t any water in the paddling pool.

Yes and you could use mud or mush up wet petals.

Later that day we went for an appointment and when we came out the girls found a fast drip coming from the gutter.

Why is this bit of rain faster?

Where is it coming from?

The roof

Yes, it usually means the gutter is blocked so the water doesn’t go down the drain pipe it falls off the end instead.

catching the rain
I’m trying to catch a raindrop but it keeps bouncing

Why can’t we catch it mummy?

The rain is coming down very fast. What happens when you throw a ball hard?

It bounces high

Yes and the rain is coming down very hard and fast so it bounces off your hand.

getting wet
I’m trying to catch a raindrop but it keeps bouncing

Shall we go home now and get dry, you could snuggle up in a blanket.

The girls removed their wet shoes. When we arrived home there was a big puddle outside our gate. I asked my 2-year-old if she would like to be carried or splash in the puddle barefooted. She wasn’t sure at first but then declared – splash!

barefoot in puddles
I’m trying to catch a raindrop but it keeps bouncing

After getting dry and snuggling under blankets for a while we decided to venture out for a while.  I took the dinosaurs to the sandpit and encouraged the girls to make a swamp.

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When the rain had stopped a disappointed 4-year-old complained

Oh, the rain has stopped we can’t play in the swamp anymore

It’s alright, it will stay wet for a while.

I think I may have succeeded in persuading them that playing in the rain is fun.

Other Rainy Day Ideas

  • Take umbrellas outside walk under drips or as my 4-year-old suggested – we could play Mary Poppins.
  • Make patterns with powder paint on the wet ground or on a wet sheet of paper.
  • Put different containers outside, cover them with different materials eg. plastic bag, tin foil, kitchen roll, fabric, netting. Find out which are waterproof.
  • Collect rainwater in containers.
  • Make boats to float in puddles or take out rubber ducks.
  • Make potions, give the children dry goods like flour, sugar or salt. What happens when they get wet?
  • Watch the patterns the rain makes in puddles or as it runs down the window. Have a race – which raindrop will get to the bottom first?
  • Play a dry land race, you are only allowed on dry land and have to avoid all puddles.
  • Build a shelter with bricks for small world people or animals.

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Outdoor Play: When They Would Rather Play with Sticks and Stones (The Theory of Loose Parts)

child playing in the dirt
I hid my stick, can you find it?

I laughed to myself as I watched my 2-year-old playing in the borders, hiding a stick in the bushes and drawing in the dirt.  A few feet away was a very expensive sensory playground with musical instruments, water features and a little bear cave. It was very impressive, but the lure of a stick was just too great. Given the choice I’m sure regardless of the expensive equipment we provide, most children are happy with a stick, a pile of stones, or a tub of water.

My eldest was obsessed with tiny stones when she was small. Everywhere we went she would stop to pick them up or take them home in her pockets. If we were in the garden she would make collections of little stones and spend hours moving them from one place to another. She was very young at the time but I never stopped her for fear that she may swallow them. I simply made sure I was sat nearby so that I could see what she was doing.

playing with loose parts
filling eggs with stones and glass beads.

My 2-year -old loves sticks. We have 2 rules:

  • No sticks in the house
  • Do not point sticks at people’s eyes.

Sometimes they are magic wands, Sometimes fishing rods or sometimes simply something to carry around. Every stick is greeted with equal excitement.

playing in the dirtAll 3 children play for hours in the sand pit. When I first moved to the US I didn’t think the girls would like the grey, gravelly play sand they have here. I was wrong, they love it as much, if not more than the fine golden sand we had in the UK. Even at the park they chose to play in the dirty gravel rather than on the equipment.

The Theory of Loose Parts

In 1972 the architect Simon Nicholson devised the Theory of Loose Parts. It grew from the notion that all children love to interact with variables. Variables can be anything from materials and shapes to media such as gases and fluids and are used to discover, invent and have fun. The theory of loose parts is as follows

‘In any environment, both the degree of inventiveness and creativity, and the possibility of discovery are directly proportional to the number and kind of variables in it.      (Nicholson 1972)

Put simply, the playground with static play equipment will not offer a child the opportunity to discover and create their own scenarios as freely as one that is less predictable or restrictive and offers moveable objects that can interact with the child’s play. A swing is a swing but the gravel can be a home for a bug, fairy dust, a cake, something to draw in, a track for a car and other endless possibilities.

We have the perfect garden for playing with loose parts, with an abundance of trees, pine cones, stones, dirt etc. I decided to organise these a little to see if it would change the way the children played with them.

Storage for Loose Parts

garden equipmentWe had an old clothes horse in the garden that was waiting for a purpose. I bought a few hanging baskets and hung them on the clothes horse along with a few other baskets I  had found. I also clipped a variety of containers to the clothes horse using  an underwear dryer (we also use this for drying paintings).

Using the clothes horse means that it is fully portable making  it easy to move out of the rain or to the sandpit, paddling pool or lawn .

The Slide show illustrates some of the things we collected .

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Other ideas for loose parts that can be stored outdoors

  • sticks, twigs
  • glass beads, marbles, buttons, bells, beads
  • feathers
  • lolly sticks
  • pegs
  • acorns, conkers and seeds,
  • string
  • large things like pallets, tyres, flowerpots, fabric, boxes, pots and pans, tubes, guttering, bamboo canes, bricks, planks, logs, driftwood.

I love to see the children using their environment to stimulate imaginative and creative play. Here are some of my favourites.

Learning for Life

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Outdoor Play: Bubble and Straw Painting.

bubble paintingMy kids love messy activities but sometimes it’s just a little too much to handle indoors.

We decided to do some outdoor painting.

A small amount of paint, a squirt of washing up liquid and a few drops of water were mixed in our pallet.

I showed my 4-year-old  how to blow bubbles with a straw. We talked about the difference between blowing and sucking.

What will happen if you suck the straw?

I’ll drink the paint. Yuck!

It’s like the wind, the wind blows but it doesn’t suck.

blowing paint
We tried to make the bubbles come over the top. We found that we needed to blow gently. They still didn’t quite bubble enough so we carefully added more water and tried again.

We placed the paper on top to make bubble patterns.

placing the paper on a bubble printbubble print

Next she made a bubbly hand print.

Time to get clean.
Time to get clean.

When the paint overflowed onto the deck she discovered that you could do something else with the straw.

 

The paint moves and makes patterns when you blow it with a straw.
The paint moves and makes patterns when you blow it with a straw.

 

Blowing the paint on the paper with the straw made a whole new type of painting.

blowing paint with a straw

Outdoor Play: Making Potions

 

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My eldest daughter has been an avid potion maker all her life.  We are always finding concoctions in her bathroom and when she was young she would leave them on the windowsill of her bedroom or on the side of the bath and if you knocked them off whilst having a relaxing bath the cold would give you the shock of your life.  She is now a huge Harry Potter fan, having read all of the series 4 times and her potions are taking on new meaning. Her younger sister is following in her footsteps. Now that the weather is nicer I set up a little potion station for them in the garden – they love it.

It is a great  sensory play activity and science experiment, they got their hands in, testing and smelling the potions and used all kinds of things from the garden. Best of all I love how the imaginary play scenarios evolved.  I suggested to my 9-year-old that she might like to make a book of potion recipes.

‘Yes’ she exclaimed excitedly, ‘ But we’ll need about 70 pages, the McClary recipe book’

 

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Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall