Thursday, March 29, 2012

Rainbow Rice Sensory Bin

Think of how long children have been seeing, smelling, hearing, feeling, and tasting.  Their whole lives!  Children are wired to receive and utilize sensory input from day one.  This is why children will dive in hands first, exploring a new substance.  The senses are their most familiar, most basic way to explore, process, and come to understand new information.

This is why we must allow young children to learn through experience, not just lecture.  These children need to use their senses and be engaged in meaningful experiences.  As we talk with them about what they are observing and sensing, we give them new language tools to connect with these more familiar sensory tools, building language as well as supporting cognitive concepts specific to the experience. 
Now, the flip side to this equation is important to remember as well.  Just as children learn through their senses, they also are developing the ability to use those senses and are building the neurological pathways associated with each one.  With added sensory experiences, combined with the scaffolding of adults and peers, children become more perceptive.  Their sensory intake and processing becomes more acute.  As they are better able to use their senses, they are then better able to learn through their senses.
Sensory play is really part of the scientific process.  Whether out loud or within the internal dialogue of the mind, children have developed a question, leading them to investigate- by grabbing, smelling, listening, rubbing, staring, licking , what have you!  They are using their senses to collect data and from that, attempt to answer their own questions.  Whether or not young children are always able to verbally communicate this process, it is still a valid exercise in scientific inquiry.
The sensory bin certainly stands as an open invitation for hands-on exploration, but it is not the only place where the senses come into play.  Throughout the preschool room and throughout the preschooler’s day, there are appeals being made to the five senses.  The sound of toppling towers in the block area, the feel of finger-paint sliding under their fingertips, the glow of the Light Brite at the small manip table, the smell of cinnamon playdough. The more we can attend to the sensory involvement of our planned activities, the more our children will be engaged and the more they will learn. 

A sensory bin is a bustling factory of developmental growth. In addition to honing sensory and science skills, sensory play builds language, social, and dramatic play skills as the children negotiate with one another to share tools, create stories, and build dialogues.  Both small and large motor skills get a boost as well, as the children manipulate the medium and tools of the day.  Creative, divergent thinking is displayed as the children are essentially invited to explore and come up with new ways to use the materials.  Cognitive skills are fostered as well as the children learn about specific concepts pertinent to the bin’s contents. As one of the truest open-ended activities, sensory play provides an opportunity for every child to succeedFind ways to optimize sensory play for your children.  Whether that’s providing a bin of sand to explore, giving your child a dish wand and plastic dishes to “wash” at the sink, or finding ways to integrate the senses into your other activities, provide space and time for sensory play!  It’s a natural and satisfying way to explore and learn!

If you make the Rainbow Rice Sensory Bin put lots of different toys and safe items in the bin  and have your child dig around the rice to find the items. Your children will have fun for hours while playing in the colorful rice. This is a great activity for sensory development. If you have small children around please make sure to watch them carefully so your children do not swallow or choke on any of the items or rice. 

Information on sensory play found here

Photo and how to make Rainbow Rice click here

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Springville Playgroup: A Windy Day

     We had such a wonderful turn out at the Springville playgroup last week! We started out by running around the gymnasium. We must have had about 15 kids. We all decided to get our wiggles out by screaming as loud as we could running from one side of the room to the other. Then we had lots of bouncy balls. We played "catch" and we even got the preschoolers and toddlers to gently toss the ball to the babies. 
      Once we took care of their wiggles we moved on to singing time to grasp the children's attention. We sung the "Little Turtle: Tiny Tim" song and "Ring-a-round-the-Rosie." Both songs were great to get the children's attention because of the gestures that go with them. Once we cooled down from playing hard, it was story time.
We first read the book, Animal Action ABC.
This book was such a fun way for all the kids to get together and act out what animals do.  Each verbs were introduced alphabetically, so it was also a good learning tool for the alphabet.
We then moved on to our theme. The weather.  We talked about what we see when it's rainy out, and when it's sunny out, but what about a windy day? The children all agreed that they couldn't see wind, but they could see what it did to trees and hear what it did to their windows at home.
Then we moved onto this book. The Wind Blew.  
   To help the children's listening skills, we had a little activity that went along with this. We had pictures (and words for the older ones who can read.) that went along with the items the the wind blew in the story. We had the kids find the items in their little zip log bag full of pictures to match the items in the story. We gave away the pictures so that they could go home and tell their family the story about what the wind blew too.

Finally for craft time, we had the kids blow their own wind with a straw.  We then put some slightly watered-down paint on a paper that matched their hair color and had them blow the paint with the straw. Once they were satisfied with their "wind-blown-crazy-hair," we had them draw faces and bodies to go with the crazy hair. It was a great way to teach the children that even with something you can't see, like wind, you can still feel and see the effect of what it does.

We hope that more can join us for our fun at playgroups in Springville on Thursdays from 10am at the LDS church building located off of 900 E and 200 N. (Next to Art City Elementary School).