Showing posts with label Natural Items. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Natural Items. Show all posts

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Tree block and logs--oh my!

I drove into work just like any other day, and noticed that the four parking spaces were coned off. A little annoyed, I wondered what the deal was, but didn't have to wait long to find out. Our landscaping/ maintenance man was cutting down three, dead trees. At lunch time, I passed by the four parking spaces, and stared in wonder at all the new loose parts for our playground! 

Technically, no one knew they would be, but I had already started divvying up the good branches from the bad before I realized I would need to ask somebody if it was okay.  I called my boss, and got the "okay," and solicited the help of a toddler (my son), and two daddies who happened to be passing by.

I'm sure I looked like a crazy person--stealing logs and large branches from the parking lot and sneaking them onto the playground after work! Parents driving by to pick up their kids slowed down and openly gawked. :D

The next day, I worked my charm on the maintenance man (Mr. Casm), and asked him to cut some of the branches into blocks. He agreed (I must be more charming than I thought!), and we now have natural balance beams on both play grounds, tree blocks, and tree cookies! 
He only cut up two branches so far (I had to agree to wait for him to finish his intended job of cutting down the trees and clearing out the mess first), and I am keeping them in stack-able baskets for easy access.
The kids helped me fill the baskets with loose parts like twigs and leaves.

I asked them how we could make a house for bugs...
They got right to work!

They made some pools...and grassy soup to feed them.
The house collapsed a few times, but each time it presented a new problem to solve: how to build a structurally sound home for the bugs?
"The bugs need a slide."

This is the top of the slide.
"It's a water slide!"
The finished bug house

It's a duplex.

The stairs...so the bugs can climb up to the top of the water slide. :)
 And later in the afternoon, I brought two of our balancing logs to the other side of the playground.

...where they were an instant hit!

They took turns naturally, and made up rules like, "No stopping," and "Don't fall in the water!"

I had a huge smile on my face the whole day! FREE outdoor blocks? FREE loose parts? FREE balance beams?! That's a good day for a preschool!

Happy playing!


 

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Using Natural Items In the Classroom

In honor of this week's, "It's Playtime (8) Natural Play," I'm going to share what we did today, which happened to be using natural items in the classroom.

In science center, we used these bamboo place mats to create individual spaces. I bought them at the dollar store a hundred years ago, but any natural place mat will do.
On each place mat, I put several different types of natural items from our science center, along with magnifying glasses.
All of the rocks, leaves, and twigs were picked by the children during a nature walk. Right outside our playground is an area of gravel...the perfect hunting ground for interesting and brightly colored rocks like this turquoise one above.

Magnifying glasses provide a fresh way to see the world. You don't need anything specific to examine...I remember being fascinated by my own magnified hands as a child.
Of course, not everyone wanted to use the mats for looking at natural items. Majd found a new way to use the place mat...as a road for his toy car! :)
Over at the other table, we had this going on:
It's a little blurry, but it's play dough and beans.
Giovanni makes "cookies," and then sorts them. It may look like a couple of piles of stuff, but he was very meticulous about sorting and deciding where each bean or play dough cookie would go.

Christopher found that scooping and pouring beans with his hands was just as fun.

Perfection. 

Happy playing!
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