Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Making a Blackboard

Blackboards are a wonderful resource to have in your home, in your garden or like me in the school playground. I decided to make two blackboards that are movable so I could put them together or apart around the playground. My husband put holes in each corner so we could hang them vertically, horizontally, next to each other or one above the other. This promotes a lot of different options and hopefully creates interest.

I bought two pieces of marine grade plywood so we could leave the boards outside in the elements.
I then applied two coats of blackboard paint to both sides and edges of the wood. This took days because it is an oil based paint and needs to dry thoroughly between coats.

I decided to leave two sides completely plain and to paint 'drawing prompts' on the other two sides to encourage creativity. I painted some feet along the bottom edge of one blackboard and an incomplete landscape scene along the edge of the other - all with exterior paint. The idea of painting on some 'drawing prompts' is to encourage the children to finish the pictures.

Have a go at making your own blackboard. Your kids will love it !!

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Learning with Water

It is warming up here and the children are loving the two new water vessels we bought in the holidays. We are going through a lot of spare clothes at the moment with some children having to change their whole outfit completely but the parents are happy, the children are well supervised and learning many valuable things. I like to have water both inside and outside the classroom and use it to teach and reinforce many concepts.
Here are some of the ways water can be used throughout the curriculum.....

Science - floating and sinking
I put out two baskets with pictures showing items floating and sinking. The children are encouraged to test each item one at a time after guessing what will happen. They then they put the item in the corresponding basket. The results can then be counted and discussed.

Literacy - learning letters and our names
I wrote the childrens names and the letters of the alphabet on shells and put them in a fish bowl for the children to catch and identify. I added some green colouring to the water and some pebbles to make the activity a little more challenging.

Maths - counting
The children loved this activity. I put table tennis balls in the water trolley and added some spoons and a bowl. The children tried to pick up a ball with a spoon and transfer it to the bowl without dropping it. We then counted each ball we could get into the bowl.

Outdoor - water play
We change the contents of the water trolley each week to reinforce the topic we are talking about.
One water trolley is a natural looking pond that this week has had pebbles in it. The children added wood chips and we're pretending it was a giant bowl of soup!
Our other water vessel had pouring containers, funnels and tubes today which was a lot of fun.

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Name Recognition

At school my class of three and four year olds have name tags for their bags, name tag charts and  various name labels around the room. They are becoming quite familiar with their name in the written form.
Here are a few examples of how to incorporate the children's names into different activities that are great fine motor activities and lots of fun - especially when you add a shaker of glitter!!

Playdough cakes with name candles:
I wrote the children's names on popsticks and added some glitter, patty cases and the regular playdough utensils. I then invited the children to make little cakes with sprinkles and of course pretend candles. The children were looking for their own name and some even recognised their friend's names. They were talking about the letters in their names and it stimulated a lot of great language. The children were learning while playing.
At home you could make family candles and make multiple names so that the children could sort all of the "Mum" candles and put them on one cake.

Pegging their name

At this activity the children needed to find their name that was attached to a container and then look for pegs that had the letters from their name. The children were talking, helping, sharing, problem solving, laughing, learning and having fun. Many children helped their friends look for certain letters and attempted to make their friends names.
This is a great fine motor activity. It reinforces the letter names and also helps the children learn the left to right orientation of their name.

Writing their name
Some children are showing an interest in beginning to write their name. Of course we encourage all attempts and don't put any pressure on the children. One good idea is to attach the child's name tag to a sketch book with a long ribbon. The child can then trace or copy their name if they show interest in doing so. The front of the book has a pocket to keep the name tag safe.

Tuesday, 8 October 2013


Blocks are an important part of all Early Childhood classrooms and are also an important educational toy to have at home. They come in a variety of shapes, sizes and colours and children of all ages love to build, create and play with them.

Playing with blocks provides excellent learning opportunities for children from problem solving,
language and social skills, maths skills and creativity to name just a few.

As a teacher, I change the materials to enhance the block play frequently depending on the childrens interests, topic or season.

Some of the materials I like to add to the block area include....

1. Cardboard cylinders and boxes
2. Natural materials-rocks, nuts, twigs, branches
3. Paper, cardboard, foil, cellophane 
4. Measuring tapes and rulers
5. Mirrors
6. Material, artificial grass, rugs and artificial flowers
7. Dinosaurs and animals
8. People
9. Cars, signs, traffic lights and trains
10. Pop sticks, pipe cleaners, wool and string

I love watching the children play and interact in the block area and observing all of the positive learning experiences that evolve. If you have any creative block ideas I would love to hear them!!