Let’s Get to Work! (Play Style!)

Ice Collections

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The children discovered a large pile of ice chunks today. Within five minutes, everyone in the class was involved in excavating the various shapes and adding them to collections.  Many ideas were attempted to dismount the ice from the surrounding snow.  Sticks were used to pry up the edges.  Shovels chopped at the large swaths of ice covering the grass.  Ice found on abandoned sleds was dislodged through semi-gentle whacking upon the porch.

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Getting the ice to its destination was another feat, altogether.  At first, the children carried individual pieces to their collection points.  When that proved to be too laborious, sleds were employed for the purpose.

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The collections were varied and ran from large to small.  Some children aimed to claim as many pieces of ice as possible.  Other groups gathered the largest chunks they could find.  One child carefully chose the three she thought were the most beautiful.  The grand purpose of most of the collections was the process of finding and gathering the ice.  A few, however, did choose to add their ice to their in-game play scenario.  The picture below with the crushed snow/ice belongs to a story of cooking and preparing for a party.

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Warm Snow

imageYou know that fake snow you see at the dollar store? We decided to buy a large tin and try it out in our sensory tub.  The children tested it first to see how the material feels prior to adding the water.  Each child had the opportunity to feel the texture. They described it as feeling like sugar or salt, soft, rough, hard, warm and bumpy.

imageNext, we added water a little bit at a time.  With each pour, the small “snow pellets” swelled and absorbed all of the liquid.  Our directions were for using only two teaspoons of mixture at a time with two ounces of water.  Since we wanted to use the entire container, we experimented with the amount of water needed.  We kept adding water.  The mixture continued to expand.  We added more water.  It still grew.  One and a half gallons of water later, we have at least 50 times the snow we began with.

Tomorrow, everyone will have a chance to play with the new “snow.” We’ll keep you updated on their observations.

The First Good Snow

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Revel in the Joy!

Let it Snow!

Who knew we would have so much snow on Wednesday?  Most of us were caught a bit off-guard and didn’t send their children to school in snow boots (myself included).  However, the lack of proper gear did not in any way distract the children from their true goal: Snow = Snowman.

Upon arrival on Wednesday, our window seat was a hot place to be. (Irony intended, of course.)  Using our binoculars, the children kept track of the quickly blowing and building snow as if it were a gift from the sky.  They gave frequent updates on the thickness and “swirliness” of  the growing layer of white.  Each child was practically holding their breath until we could get out and into the snow.

Rolling the Snow

We chose to play in front of the farm-house since it was much too muddy still on our back field.  This area was also free of foot prints, fairly flat, and thus prime snowball rolling property.  After much experimenting with pressing the snow together to make a snowman, I took a little “teacher initiative” and showed them how to squeeze the snow into a ball and then roll it in the snow.  Ball rolling turned out to be more fun than planning the snowman.  We ended up with 8 separate balls of varying sizes.  Some didn’t quite make it back to the snowman, being dropped somewhere along the way.  Yet, we did finally end up with a handsome specimen with two wood chip eyes, four arms, and  an extra head.

Final Touches

It is now obvious that we have entered fully into the winter months.  Please make sure your child has a pair of boots that they may wear in the snow every day.  Boots and/or a change of shoes for inside may stay in the classroom over night to make things easier for you in the morning.  We also have a place for mittens, gloves, hats, and scarves that can stay at school.  All of the children should have a pair of snow-bibs or a snow-suit to leave at school for outdoor play.  We will continue to play outside every day unless it is frigidly cold or pouring down rain.

What could it be?

This unusually warm afternoon, when we arrived on the playground, we found a large amount of white, grainy material just off of the black-top.  At first, the children didn’t really take notice of it.  Then, eureka!, they declared that they had found snow!  I asked them what it felt like, hoping that they might mention the distinct lack of coldness.  They focused on its whiteness.

They jubilantly jumped around shouting that winter must be coming soon since there was snow on the ground.  One of the children hung back and said that they thought that it must not be snow, it must be sugar.  Responding to my inquiry, he said that it “just looked and smelled like sugar”.  Luckily, he wasn’t curious enough to taste it.

I asked them all where it might have come from.  They looked at me as though I’d grown a third eye and said, “From the clouds, Mrs. Forst!”  I should have known that, now shouldn’t I?  Even the sugar idea originated in the clouds.  We’ve been reading variations of Jack and the Beanstalk and the children remembered that the giant lived in the clouds.  So if he could live there, why couldn’t he drop some sugar out onto the ground, as well?

So then I suggested we try some experiments to find out if it really was snow.  They were very excited by the idea and quickly came up with a test to find out the truth.  The idea: put a pile of it on the bottom of the slide.  Slide down the slide.  If it makes you go faster, then it must be snow.  Two worked as a team to build up a nice sized pile while a third waited at the top of the slide.  Each took a turn being a scooper and a slider.  They even asked the slider each time if enough “snow” had been gathered, yet.  The cooperation involved here is exactly what every Pre-K teacher hopes to see everyday.  During this experiment, I inquired about the outcome.  They informed me that it certainly did make them go faster.

Everyday, at the end of the class, we each share something we did today.  When one of them shared that they did a snow experiment, I asked what they decided.  I was told, “It is snow because nothing else in the world is white except sugar, and it’s not sugar, so it must be snow.”  How do we argue with that logic?

Hopefully there will still be some left tomorrow so that we can explore the possibilities further.  For now, just let me share one child’s independent project using the “snow”.  She ran over to me and squealed, “Mrs. Forst, come see my pattern!”  Now, do you see why I love my job?