The Flexibility of Block Play and Sugar on Snow...
I try to fit block play in with the children about once per week. Blocks are what childhood education experts call "open-ended" toys, and anyone who has recently watched the Lego movie knows just what I mean... Legos and other blocks have the potential to be something other than and greater than just blocks- they can be a tower to knock down, stairs, a barn, a castle, a cave, a racetrack... the possibilities are literally endless. It is toys like this that help spark children's imaginations and toys like this I try hard to keep at hand for the children every day.
Sometimes little people need a springboard to get block play going, but today the kids seemed to be pre-loaded with fun and interesting ideas for block play. What started out as a castle turned into a horse playground and a house... and then a doctor's office... and then a fence to keep the wild animals out. This is how we began our day, and the little end-of-the-week change in schedule was just what the kids needed to kick start a really great play session. We played at blocks for nearly an hour during which I took some time to work with the littles one-on-one stacking towers of blocks. When the block play faded out, I knew the children were ready to give themselves over to the security of our regular routine.
We did our regular calendar and weather routines. I've recently been surprised by how well the 12-18 month set is doing on identifying where "Tim the Weather Kid's" articles of clothing belong and how nicely they cooperate in putting the pieces on. Way to go, littles!
From there, we reviewed what liquids and solids are. We looked at some maple syrup in a Pyrex measuring cup and decided it was brown and a liquid. I asked the kids to guess what it might mean if I said we were going to make "sugar on snow," and I got some pretty funny answers, most of them revolving around eating snow (who needs sugar when you have snow?). I shared what making sugar on snow is- heating up liquid maple syrup and then pouring it on snow to make a sticky, taffy-like solid. The kids were intrigued!
We took a moment then to note that there was 1/4 C of maple syrup in the measuring cup, and that there were marks that allow people to measure how much of a liquid is in the cup. We looked at a candy thermometer (mostly with our eyes- it was made of glass!) and noticed it also had marks to measure. I explained the marks on the thermometer were to measure how hot something is.
After that, I did the grown-up's job of heating the maple syrup and scooping up clean snow. When the syrup was close to the desired temperature, I had the older children bring the bowl of snow into the daycare room and I had the children sit on a blanket to make sure they were at a safe distance from the hot syrup... then the magic of sugar on snow began!
We saw that the syrup was still a liquid as I poured it out, but when it hit the snow, it changed to a solid! We all tried some of the "candy," and about half of us liked it. What a tasty way to experiment with states of matter!
After cleaning up our "sticky situation," I caught up some of the children who had missed out on yesterday's watercolor/stamping artwork. It was just as fun for these two!
We decided to change gears and enjoy some outdoor time. After we were all bundled snugly, we went for a stroll around the neighborhood. We saw lots of snow that had melted into interesting shapes and we had to have a discussion about why we couldn't taste the snow (ick!). We said hello to one of our neighbors and got some nice compliments about how cute we were. On the home stretch, we saw a woodpecker and a big hawk that flew off when it spotted us. Hawks are big!
After naps, we read Just A Snowman and Snow Day, Hooray. It was a fun-filled day! See you tomorrow!