Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Making Granola With Two Year Olds- A Guest Post and Recipe

The teacher of our twos program, Lini,  had such a hit with her center activity last week, that I asked her to share it with us in another guest post from her.  

It is difficult to find a good baking activity to do with 2 yr olds that does not require an adult hovering closely to make sure there is not a tablespoon of salt in the cookies rather than a teaspoon.
I was so pleased to discover the perfect recipe for 2 yr olds - granola! 

The children scooped and mixed the oats, seeds, fruits and coconut pouring from one bowl to another and stirring with a wooden spoon. There was no hovering!

Eventually all the oats & mix-ins landed in a large jar (like a Costco sized pretzel jar) we whisked the melted butter and honey together and poured it over the oats, shaking it in the jar to combine.

We enjoyed it at snack time and each child took a small bag home with them, I got several requests for the recipe, it was DELICIOUS!

So here it is:
6 C Old Fashioned Oats
approx 1/2 C each raw sunflower seeds, raw pumpkin seeds, golden raisins, craisins, banana chips, unsweetened coconut
Melt one stick butter, mix in 1/4 C honey & 1/2 C canola oil and pour over oat mixture, mix well. Spread on baking sheet, bake at 325 degrees for 20-30 min stirring every 10 min.

A Wearable Abacus

We read Eric Carle's  Rooster's Off to See The World 

In the illustrations, Eric Carle uses stacking squares to show the number relationship to the animals the rooster encounters on his adventure.  In this spirit, we made number story necklaces using pony beads.

The children added one bead to represent the rooster, then two beads stand for the next two animals using a different color, and then three of another color and so on until they had ten beads of the last color. 

Some children selected the beads according to what their animals looked like in their minds such as choosing three red beads to represent three red lady bugs-a creature not in the story but adapted by this particular student.  Others chose their beads based on colors that they liked.

Many of the children were able to pick a bead from the main dish on the table, string that bead and keep counting until they had the number needed.  Others did get confused and it helped to have them count out the number of beads needed into a cup and then string that group. 

We did go further than the book which covers up to 5 animals and then goes in reverse.  We used ten different colors and had groups of beads up until 10. 

Simple Sensory Experience...and Delicious!

The price of oranges finally came down a couple of weeks ago, so my assistant had the great idea to make fresh squeezed juice.

The children loved the process of pushing the orange halves on to the juicer and grinding them around.
Having to work very hard for a few sips of juice was an interesting concept for them.

The smell of fresh squeezed juice filled the classroom and the center was full throughout our playtime.

Many of the children enjoyed squeezing the juice out and being able to offer it to others, and several wanted to take some home to share with mom and dad.

A great use of the leftover orange halves is to fill them with birdseed and make a pipe cleaner handle to put outside for the birds and squirrels.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Box Play Outside

We brought the boxes we had been using in the classroom outside this week.

It is truly amazing to watch the incredible problem solving and social skill building that occurs during this play.   These children are working out issues such as how to get the boxes to stand up, how to get in and out of the boxes, how to fit children in the boxes and how to keep them from falling down.

They are making decisions such as who can come into the structures, who gets to be in charge of who comes in and out, who is leading the building project and what are the rules of its use.

These children are communicating by their body language as well as their language.  They are stating their desires and learning to both cajole and compromise.  They are trying a solution, reflecting on how it worked and trying a different way.  Some are becoming more assertive and others are learning to take a more passive role in order to keep the peace.

Children who do not normally play together are investigating new alliances.
And all from playing with a few empty cardboard boxes in a new space.

I did want to add a few of the books we explored to help us with our play issues that I have been discussing and tied in nicely with the boxes:

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Boxes, tunnels and tubes

For some new provocations in our block center we added cardboard boxes of various sizes.  We cut holes in the boxes on all sides at different heights.  Then we provided wrapping paper tubes, cove molding and large marbles. 

The children engaged in learning many of the principals of physics and problem solving as they tried different creations of ramps and tunnels for the marbles. They used some of the regular blocks as supports for their structures.

They tested their pathways and then reworked them if they did not perform as expected.  They tested dropping marbles from outside the boxes and inside the boxes.

They had to solve interesting problems such as how to fit a tube through a box when a friend was inside the box. 

The worked side by side and together, sharing ideas, comparing ideas and expanding upon each other’s ideas. 

We were there to comment on what we were noticing, to ask questions about what we saw them doing and to make suggestions to further their problem solving abilities. 

By the end of the week, we saw them going inside the boxes more than playing with the tubes, so in following their lead, we added more boxes of various sizes.  What did they do with them? 

They connected them until they filled the entire block area figuring out how to get them to stand up, how to support them, how to make room for more friends to come in and so much more. 

We do not need the newest shiny toys to make fantastic learning environments for children.  But we do need to follow their lead.

Liquid Layer Art..or is it Science?

One of our favorite science as art activities is Liquid Layer Art from the incredibly talented authors of Concoctions for Kids.  We have all of their books and you should too!

For this activity you need liquids of different densities.  We used water, oil, rubbing alcohol, corn syrup and shampoo.  We used liquid water color to make each liquid a different color, except for the oil which was already yellow.  Then we set these on the table with eye droppers in the cups.  The corn syrup is easier done with a teaspoon as it is difficult to get up into and then out of the eye dropper. 

We were lucky to have received a great donation of these clear plastic jars with lids.  At other times we have used large plastic test tubes and the children would make creations and then rinse them out.  With these jars the children were able to keep their layered liquids. 

When the liquids are put in the jar, they rest on each other with the heavier liquids sinking and the less dense liquids floating on top.  You can actually see the rainbow.  Then the children love to shake up the jars and watch as the liquids re-separate.  This can take awhile to occur to it is good to have a place where they can set their jars down and come back to at a later time. 

The follow up activity that we offered was to have the children fill a jar with just oil-basic cooking oil- and then add a few drops of colored water.  As this jar gets turned upside down the water droplets break into smaller and smaller droplets each time it is rotated.  Then when the jar rests, the water droplets re-find each other creating large blobs of water in the jar once again.  The children were fascinated by this and wanted to continue testing and retesting these effects. 

This can be done with other liquids that the children come up with…honey, milk, and liquid soap.  The possibilities are endless and the combination of the scientific principals combined with the artistic exploration make for a powerful learning experience.