Place Based Preschool Rocks, Sand and Soil

Place Based Preschool

I am thrilled to work with children to expand their experience with two things I am passionate about: nature and creativity. Every session we explore together through play, investigations, art, and stories. The place based model helps children feel a sense of place by connecting and learning about the world around them. That can mean the natural world, their local town, the local bird population, or anything around them. The plan with the preschool sessions is to gather once a season to explore a topic within our “place.” I also enjoy asking the children to interpret what they learn through art (inspired by Reggio Emilia philosophy.) I have so much fun that I want to keep the experience; hence, the blog! The blog includes post from the place based sessions or other ways and ideas to share an appreciation for nature and creativity. Enjoy!

Rocks, Sand and Soil

This fall, we explored rocks, sand and soil.  This topic was inspired by watching some of the kids from last preschool sessions.  They were always drawn to interesting rocks.  I can relate!  This is one of my favorite topics.  We were able to have six  sessions.

Below, I have a brief summary of them all!

1.  Rocks to Sand

We started our first session with a little puppet show featuring boulders, ice, and animals.  The story highlighted the breakdown of stones.  A great poem become our closing for each session.

Rocks into Pebbles

Pebbles into Sand

I really hold

A million rocks, right here in my hand.

After our puppet show we spent some time making our own sand with some mica and shells.  sand

Then, they used their new sand and other stones to create their own poem.rocks into sand

2.  Our Favorite Rocks

I asked the children to collect some rocks they liked during the week.  We have a rock museum in our space.  I asked them to help add to it if they wanted.  I wanted the kids to focus on the details of the rocks and get them talking about their observations.  We played some games to help them see and feel the details of their rocks.  We all had a chance to tell our own stories about our rocks.  Some shared where they found it and why they liked it.  Others shared an experience the rock helped them remember.

Then, I had some fun sharing of my own.  I brought in a big bucket full of rocks.  We had wonderful and exciting time sorting through them.  Like your grandmother’s old button box!rock collectionimageimage

We found a lot of ways to sort the rocks.  I suggested color first, then the children were excited to sort by what they looked like.

“I’m being a cool scientist!”  Nori

“These are all sparkly, where should I put them”

“These all look like shark fins.”  Beck

“This is bumpy.” Cora

“My shirt looks like soil.”

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After our sorting frenzy, I invited the children to arrange them onto a board for a rock collage.  I love the turnout!

 

 

3.  Soil

For this session, I invited the kids to my house to venture into the woods.  The purpose of our investigation today was to gather different types of soil to compare.  We gathered soil from the garden, the compost, the sandbox, and then the woods.

Once we had our last sample, we spent a lot of time talking about what we see in each and how it feels.

“I found some little rocks.”  image

“Why is there a lobster shell in here?”

The next step was to do an experiment.  We made a few simple predictions to see which soil would hold more water.  They did get some ideas about the experiment.  They all agreed that the clay soil would “trap” the water.  It was a little confusing for them that the woods soil didn’t hold any water.  I feel it was good enough for them to make the observation and ask questions.  I didn’t feel we needed to answer all the reasons for the experiment turnout.  It could get to be too much.

It was a cold day; therefore, our art session was less involved.  We did some some creations with wet sand and soil.  I noticed them all want the clay soil because it would stick better.

4.  Types of Rocks

I found the best idea on pinterest (look it up!) to show children the difference between, igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic rocks.  They really were able to get a sense of how these rocks were forms.

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The basic idea is to use crayon shavings as material.  Then using pressure, layers, and heat create the three types of rocks.  After this experiment, we tried to identify a few rocks from our collection.  The children we able to identify possibilities and were often correct!

When we were done with investigation, I asked the children to try and make their own rock with bakers dough.  They tried to recreate their favorite rock.

 

 

5.  Fossils

This was a fun session.  Kids love fossils!  It was time to tell another story.  I told a story about a river long ago and recreated some of the life that was around it with toys animals.  In the story plants landed in the river.  Then,  sand and soil went over it from erosion and change.  After a long time, the river dried up.  Then, people found the area and discovered some fossils.

I used play dough as part of the sediment.  When the people in the story found the fossils, the play dough had an imprint.  The children were eager to try to create their own fossilized imprints and we spent some time experimenting.

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Of course, I followed this activity up with some real fossils.image
“I can see the eyes on the fish!”

The children did some great observational drawings.

image6.  Rocks we use

For the last session, I wanted to have some fun with rocks.  We enjoyed Matthew Wheelock’s Wall by Frances Ward Weller.  We talked some about the way we use rocks.  Then the children tried to create their own wall.image

After this group project, we simple had some rock fun.  Rock painting and rock sculptures!

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I am looking forward to winter session!

Felting Creations

Felting Creations

Recently we went to a local fair and were excited to come home with some colorful wool. I gave Charlie a quick lesson on using a felting needle. He came up with this great idea! A felted Book Worm to use as a bookmark. Another great example of what comes out of giving kids good materials and the freedom to imagine and create. Easy too!
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Paddle to the Sea -Vacation mixed with learning

Paddle to the Sea
Vacation mixed with learning!

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The great thing about vacation is that it is an easy way to feed curiosity and give it a little excitement to learning. Once you get into the habit of looking for the opportunity in what is around, it also requires less planning Everything that we did this summer seemed to have some kind of link to a book that we enjoyed together the previous spring. You will know the classic book, Paddle to the Sea by Holling C. Holling.

We had a wonderful drive to Michigan for great grandma’s 90th birthday. It was easy to find connections to something Charles has been thinking about since reading Paddle to the Sea. I thought it worth posting to share that it is very easy to simply notice the relevant things around when you find the place of curiosity for your child. Charles was very intrigued by water systems and the Great Lakes. I will not give every detail of our summer and this topic, but highlights to share how easy it was to make vacation a fun way to discover interest. I feel that we could have found connections in our home state as well. The vacation just helped and brought some excitement to the topic.

1. We found a great stop at one of the many Erie Canal locks. We were able to watch it in progress and the man on post was very helpful giving us a tour and explanation!

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2. We stopped at Niagara Falls! Charles wanted to find the whirlpool that Paddle was stuck in for a while.

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3. One sunny day at the end of the summer, we decided to make our own version of Paddles journey to the sea. He was particularily interested in replicating the Niagara Falls.
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4. We had some fun carving our own paddle out of ivory soap!
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Place Based Preschool 2013-2014 Dates

Place Based Preschool place based preschool winter 2013 022

I am thrilled to work with children to expand their experience with two things I am passionate about: nature and creativity. Every session we explore together through play, investigations, art, and stories. The place based model helps children feel a sense of place by connecting and learning about the world around them. That can mean the natural world, their local town, the local bird population, or anything around them. The plan with the preschool sessions is to gather once a season to explore a topic within our “place.” I also enjoy asking the children to interpret what they learn through art, play, building, and creativity (inspired by Reggio Emilia philosophy.) I have so much fun that I want to keep the experience; hence, the blog! The blog includes post from the place based sessions or other ways and ideas to share an appreciation for nature and creativity. Enjoy!

place based preschool fall 2012 003

The class is a family experience for 4-6 year old children. We meet every Thursday from 9:30-10:30 for a 4 to 6 week session. Our meeting location is at the Merrymeeting Arts Center or families will be notified of a local natural area (TBD.) Enrollment for each session is appreciated by the week prior to the start of class. Families can register for one session or all three sessions with the instructor (Corie Scribner, coriemelvin@yahoo.com) or by contacting Merrymeeting Arts Center www.merrymeetingartscenter.org

Forms and payment are due the first session of class.

place based preschool 013The topic for each session is always evolving in the spirit of Reggio Emilia; however, the general plan is listed below.

Fall Session: Rocks, Soil, and Sand October 10- November 14 (no class on October 31)

See the posting from this session!

Winter Session:  Night and sky

January 9 – February 13 (no class January 16)

5 sessions for $50

Spring Session: Topic is TBD; however, my latest inspiration may come from local farms.

Camping and Summer Vacation – Easy art projects for anywhere!

Easy Art Projects on the Go!

This summer, our family will be traveling several times to various outdoor locations. The natural world is an easy play space for children and often, they are able to find their own entertainment. Having said that, an art project can be a good down or quite time, while still appreciating the wonders around them. Here is a simple and easy suggestion.

1. Pack a box with some basics: glue, washable paint, brushes, scissors, yarn and tape.

During our last vacation, we found many used for these materials and, as always, some ideas that I didn’t think of doing.

2. Collect items from around your camp or on some outings: rocks, sticks, leaves, shells, drift wood, etc.

3. Create: Below are a few ideas from our last vacation, but my message is the same as other post. See what you can think up.

 

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I had the idea to only weave with natural items.  The boys wanted to do it with yarn.  I love the combination.

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I suggested red, white, and blue drift wood for July 4th.  They had fun with this and then moved to other colorful designs.

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I gave a quick lesson on making a God’s Eye.  That gave us other ideas:  to make a God’s Eye with more sticks and to join sticks together to make shapes.  The second picture is our first attempt at a peace sign.  We will be visiting this idea again…..

For more inspiration:
http://www.redtedart.com/2013/02/07/stick-craft-ideas/

Make it Wild! 101 Things to Make and do Outdoors 

make it wild

Sun, Earth, and Moon Inquiry

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Project Based learning at work this summer. Charlie has been interested in landforms and the earth in general. Recently, we have had a beautiful full moon. It has started a lot of questions about what the moon is doing with the earth.

I thought we could make a model, I found several models of how to show the relationship online, but we had more fun pulling out the creation station (remember from earlier post) to try and make our own version. This is what we came up with after a lot of thinking and mistakes. We wanted to get the moon to go around the earth at the same time. Strings, wire, and other stuff and we go it.

Then, I love this..
He starts asking:

“What else do we want in the space?”
“I am going to put lines for the atmosphere.”

I have a feeling we may go farther..

For more inspiration on this method, I want to remind you of the project approach. http://www.projectapproach.com. The key is to let their inquiry guide the activity more than showing them how to do it. It is so much fun to watch the learning.

Place Based Preschool – In and Around the Pond ….again!

Place Based Preschool

I am thrilled to work with children to expand their experience with two things I am passionate about: nature and creativity. Every session we explore together through play, investigations, art, and stories. The place based model helps children feel a sense of place by connecting and learning about the world around them. That can mean the natural world, their local town, the local bird population, or anything around them. The plan with this preschool sessions is to gather once a season to explore a topic within our “place.”  I also enjoy asking the children to interpret what they learn through art (inspired by Reggio Emilia philosophy.) I have so much fun that I want to keep the experience; hence, the blog! The blog includes post from the place based sessions or other ways and ideas to share an appreciation for nature and creativity. Enjoy!

In and Around the Pond

I have already posted about our first three session for spring.  This post will reflect the last three sessions.

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I asked the families to gather at my house for another day in the field.  Through the woods, there is a marshy section of our local river and the woods are thriving with salamanders.  It was a perfect opportunity to talk about their similarities and differences to frogs and lizards.  During circle, we use plastic models of salamanders to think about their body parts.  Salamanders have 4 toes in front and 5 toes on back.  I used a oil covered plastic bag to simulate salamander and frog skin and we compared it to an onion mesh bag that simulated lizard skin.  After our comparisons, I coached the children on the respect needed while investigating live salamanders.  We pretended to find them under logs and hold them in our hand (preferably on a leave.)    Then, we went into the woods for our investigation!

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The children worked with the teachers and parents to find the habitats of the salamander.  We found several and many discoveries along the way!

“He likes holes!”  Caleb

“I think I see five toes!”  Althea

“They crawl fast.”  Nick

It was hard to pull them away from this investigation, but we made our way to the outdoor classroom area to start our reflection and art.

imageI invited the children to talk about what they noticed on the salamanders they found and I then shared a variety of pictures of different types of salamanders.  They noticed the stripes, spots, and colors.  I asked them if they would like to create their own salamander.  This project reflected their creativity and their learning from investigations.  They used their knowledge to create the shape of the body and then they loved imagining their own specially designed salamander.

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“I want spots”  Ella

“My salamander’s name is Sara Sweetheart.”  L.L.

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image“Mine will be a rainbow salamander.”  Althea

And Finally…….

Our last  session was spent at a local school that had a perfect environment to show the children another type of wetland and to showcase a vernal pool (temporary pool of water.)

The school has a stream on the grounds and the fourth graders are part the The Stream Team.  They have learned about the habitats around the stream through the course of the year.  I invited them to show the children around.

During circle, I used a plastic tub, brown cloth and water to simulate a vernal pool and how the water evaporates or sinks into the ground.  Then, I was able to show them an area that use to be filled with water, but still has the wetland vegetation.  The children remembered cattails from our pond plants collage project in an earlier session.

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After circle, the fourth graders took the children on a tour of local stream habitats.  They found tadpoles, water striders, red winged blackbirds, and a killdeer bird nest with a protective mother.

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Not the greatest picture… but you get the idea.

“Why is it on the ground?”  Emma

The children noticed the behaviors of the mother bird and were excited to get a glimpse of the spotted eggs.

After our investigation, I invited the children to create their final art project while thinking about the habitats of their previous clay creations.  They created their habitat on the collage.

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“Here is a log for the salamander, pond for the tadpoles and I gave them eyes.”

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Some children included plants to represent the vegetation.

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I supplied googly eyes to represent eggs.  Some children used them as eyes and others liked the egg idea.

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We finished our last session with some songs and a special hug and good-bye from Mr. Salamander.

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Happy Kindergarten gang!