Throughout September we spent a great deal of time talking about the weather, but here and there I have been incorporating fall based play opportunities here and there. We spent a great deal of time discussing fall last year. We learned about apples, pumpkins, life cycles, and much more. Since my group of children is the same this school year, I wanted to discuss some new topics. Of course the seasons and temperature changes were another part of our weather discussions.
These are some pictures from my fall play dough tray that I had out for a few weeks. The tray had wooden acorns, acorns on toothpicks, leaf cookie cutters, and leaf gems. I can never, ever get enough of play dough. I am constantly blown away by the children’s continued interest in play dough, and the things they create. They loved pushing the wooden acorns deep into the dough, such great fine motor work!
Then I moved the play dough tray inside of the classroom. I added red cinnamon scented dough to tray, and it renewed an interest in the dough again. I also added scissors, because they love rolling and cutting the dough into pieces.
The oatmeal table came back out this fall. I love oatmeal and cinnamon sticks in the sensory table! The child loved scooping it and sending it down through the paper towel tubes. This year I added a bunch of handfuls of chestnuts (thank you Max’s family), and three beautiful leaf votive I found at the dollar store.
Light and Shadow Play:
The light table has a continued interest this year. I keep trying to add new and interesting materials to engage the kids and keep them coming back for more! This year I put silk leaves, leaf gems, and popsicle sticks on the light panel. The children made patterns, and loved looking at the details on the leaves.
Of course there is always something interesting to create with the overhead projector!
Invitation to Play:
This was a wonderful fall invitation to play that was left on the tables for a week or two. The tray was filled with woodland animals, flaxseed, cinnamon sticks, grass balls from the craft store, and wooden pieces. The children came back to this tray day after day. The flax seeds were a new sensory material for us, and they enjoyed scooping them, and moving them around on the tray. The animals were always
I recently purchased some plexi-glass boards from Lowe’s for a cheap outdoor easel. I set up this painting invitation with the boards, paints, and squeegees. They of course went right to town experimenting with the paints and this new form of a paint brush!
This year I am trying to introduce more and more games into our learning trays. The company “Blue Orange” makes some of my most favorite games. If you are looking for a great Christmas gift that doesn’t require batteries, their games are my #1 pick!
Pengoloo is a simple memory and matching game. Children roll the colored dice, and try to find a penguin with the matching egg color. If they find a match they get to place the penguins on their iceberg. They are learning their colors, using their reasoning skills, and of course learning about turn taking. This game was a hit with everyone.
Here is a simple color match you could set up at home! I painted toilet paper tubes different colors, and then stacked them in a line for some popsicle stick sorting. You don’t even need to paint the sticks, you can find colored sticks at the craft store!
Another great and cheap fine motor activity: skewer the beads! I simply stuck cooking skewers in the play dough and put a bowl of beads in the learning tray. They went right to work filling up their sticks.
I pre-wrote children’s names on paper in another learning tray. They could use stickers or dot art to trace over their name. Most of my crew chose stickers of course!
Lastly, these aren’t the greatest photos, but we had the Duplo blocks out for about three weeks. Last year the children mostly loved driving the trucks and trains around the classroom. This year they worked together to make some of the most creative castles, train sets, and playgrounds. I snapped a few photos of their work, but this type of creativity went on and on for weeks. They were making elaborate Duplo trains to take around the classroom. I have truly enjoyed seeing how much they have all grown since last year, and how this has affected their play and use of materials!