Freezer Fun, Storm Monsters, and Rabbit Tracks...
Part of why I love being a daycare provider is watching children learn naturally with just the tiniest hint of guidance from me. Today there were several situations in which just a wee bit bit of setting the stage from me resulted in hours of engaged play and learning.
To kick off our day, we set up our last state of matter experiment. I put out a set of underwater creatures and we observed them. I asked the children to compare some of the creatures. We observed which ones had blowholes and which ones had gills. The kids were surprised to find out some of the figures weren't fish!
After that, we talked about where the animals lived. The children definitely had the understanding that the animals lived in water, so I explanded on that knowledge. We talked about how some of the creatures like to live where the water is very cold and filled with icebergs, then I presented the children with some plastic containers and some "icebergs" of their own- ice cubes.
I let the children move toward our goal on their own, and they were more than happy to fill the containers with the sea creatures and the ice cubes, mix them together, and talk all about it. The children all enjoyed the sensory aspect of this- the ice cubes were "cold," "slippery," and "getting wet."
Once the "icebergs" were in the containers and the children were ready for some more fun, we added water to the equation. We put our fingers into the bowl of water and noticed the water was cool but not cold. The older children were asked to carefully scoop and pour water, and they did a great job! After that, we felt the water again, and we decided the icebergs had made the water very cold.
I told the children we'd be doing a rescue mission to save the sea creatures from the frozen water after lunch, so then the children helped me carefully carry the sea creatures to the freezer.
The children helped wipe off the water that had accumulated on the table, and then we moved on to some block play. Another lovely feature of running a home daycare is that I can be flexible and accomodate the children's interests, and when our block play began leaning more toward constructing a train track, we moved right on to the trains.
We counted out ten sections of tracks apiece for the older children, and then they created the tracks the way they wanted them. I helped them connect their individual tracks, and then they added more.
There was a little frustration at times when the littles came along and started taking the tracks apart, but we made a game of it and pretended the littles were big storm monsters that came and tore apart the tracks with their power, and that the bigger kids were the track engineers who had to come fix the tracks.
Sometimes all you need is a little story like that to feed the bigger kids' imaginations and it turns frustration into fun! It was lovely, too, that the bigger children remained focused on the building aspect, which in turn strengthened their spatial recognition skills and both fine and gross motor coordination.
Soon, it was time for snack, and while the children ate, we took out the sea creatures to find out what changes had occurred. The children were excited to find there was a thin scrim of ice on top of the water! Neat!
After finishing snack, we went outside and played with a set of measuring scoops. The children all had fun scooping and dumping snow, investigating chunks of ice that had been brushed off the deck, and discovering rabbit tracks in the snow.
The big kids were particularly interested in the rabbit tracks, and we took guesses about which prints were the front feet and which were the back feet. I drew a circle around complete sets of prints for the children to learn from.
We thought about what bunny feet looked like, which feet were the powerful hopping feet. After some thought, we agreed that the big, narrow tracks were the powerful hopping feet and the small, circular tracks were the rabbit's littl front feet. We followed the bunny tracks until they crossed through the fence that divides our yard from the field beyond. Bye, bunny!
One of the littles was feeling particularly adventurous today and would walk just as far as she dared before she'd turn around and join the gang again. It's so amazing to watch the childrens' independence grow!
After some balancing on the stone wall, it was time to come back in and get some grub. Needless to say, after all the exercise, the kids ate very well!
After nap, we brought the sea creatures out and used warm water to "rescue" them from the ice. First, I had the children observe how the creatures were trapped in the ice. We talked a little about what state of matter the water was in, and at this point, the children were able to tell me the water was a solid. I then gave them the turkey baster and some paintbrushes to squirt and brush warm water over the ice and let them have at it!
Freeing the creatures took us much longer than we expected, but it was super fun! What a way to end the day!
See you tomorrow!