Friday, October 21, 2016

Toddler STEM - Pumpkin Fun!

This month's theme was pumpkins, and we had so many ideas we couldn't get to them all! 

I always start everyone off outside the room with basic instructions: 1) let the kids explore, 2) ingredients and suggestions are listed at each station, and 3) I will be putting the gate up at the door to slow kids down so they can be dusted off before hitting the carpet.

Right inside the door I have a few flyers about preschool STEM, as well as for any upcoming events.

But most of the room is centers:

Squish Bags

Squish the pieces around to make a face!

Hair gel with yellow food coloring and felt pieces

Colored rice with poster board pieces

We had two of each type, with wide clear tape sealing them closed. They held up to two days of exuberant babies squeezing them hard, and determined toddlers tossing them like bean bags. 

Motor skills, problem solving, textures.

Cornmeal Construction

This was the one the most parents said they are going to do at home. Just two bags of corn meal, a truck, a couple shovels, a magnifying glass, and some sieves.

Buried, of course, so the first kids got to discover them!

That littlest cutie would have stayed there all morning, I think. Mommy is probably still getting it out of her shoes, but she was so cute, sticking her hands in and then smiling at everybody! Of course it ended up everywhere, but wasn't as slick as the cloud dough last month. 

Sensory exploration, cause and effect.

Pumpkin Paint

While cruising the aisles of the dollar store, I saw the orange poofs and decided we had to do something with them.

Another very popular activity!

Note wet wipes for clean-up! I also had the whole table situated next to the sink, with a stool and washcloths ready, and old t-shirts for everyone to put on over their clothes. There was an empty table to place masterpieces on to dry. 

I started off with just a squirt or red, orange, yellow and white on paper plates, and added a bit more partway through. Of course, a half hour in they were all pretty much orange. Having a finite amount of paper allowed me to declare the paint done about ten minutes before we ended the whole program, which helped a lot with clean-up!

Cause and effect, color mixing.

Play Clay

There were three big chunks, which of course were divided into smaller chunks as kids dug in. I left the cinnamon out so they could work more in, and MAN did the room smell good! At the last minute I nixed the food coloring, because I realized it would come off of hands, but perhaps not the table...

Daddies enjoyed playing, too.

Her expression needs a caption!

These two really liked the cinnamon.

Motor skills, cause and effect, sensory exploration, engineering.

Pumpkin Possibilities

I put the signs up with suggested activities, but I am happier when they come up with their own ways to explore. This quickly became a tossing game, from different angles and distances.

The tape was to give them a straight line to try to roll them on, but it was mostly ignored. That's okay!
Another young man did some sorting, which led to discussions of which ones were the same - by color? By size? By shape? So many ways to sort!

Physics, motor skills, cause and effect, math.

Pumpkin Patterns

The original idea was to poke them into regular pumpkins, but even I had a hard time with that. These styrofoam pumpkins from the dollar store were perfect.

More thinking outside the box:

As long as they aren't being destructive, I encourage that. Now, if they had been poking them into the WALLS...

Math, engineering, motor skills, cause and effect.

Last, but certainly not least,

Pumpkin Guts

I am really horrible at 'shooting' pumpkin seeds, btw. Once I managed to land one in my own hair - still not sure how I managed that. I also bounced them off several kids. One little girl tried once and told me she couldn't do it, and I told her she couldn't do it yet. Bless her heart, she kept trying until she got it! Good for her!

Sensory exploration, cause and effect, using tools, fine motor.

I counted 57 people around the midpoint Monday, and 56 on Wednesday, which is just about the right number for our little room.

And no injuries! That's a good measure of success for any program!

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