Air, Land & Water Nature Table
Preschool Discovery Table
EARTH DAY Celebration with hands On Play!
Making the Air, Land & Water Nature Discovery Table
I had a lot of ideas for Earth Day and was very enthusiastic the week before but somehow lost some steam by Monday! I like to find or create activities that do three things for us. I want the activity to have some educational value. I want the activity to be hands on and sensorial. Lastly, I want the activity to open up discussion between us. This particular activity had all three and then some. Sometimes I need to take concepts and twist them a bit so that I know Liam will be successful with them and enjoy them and maybe do them again.
1. I sewed (using the verb sew loosely) the four rectangles of felt together into a mat
2. I made header cards for air, land and water
3. I gathered some natural materials to creates spaces: cotton, twigs and shells
4. I gathered all our little animals from all our Toobs: birds, jungle, farm, ocean and trees
5. I found old photographs from hiking and camping trips and mounted them to coordinating scrapbook paper (help with independent sorting)
This was his invitation to play when he got up in the morning. It took him awhile to warm up to sitting down for the activity and he showed sparse interest in it until much later after he had done many other activities. He was warmed up! (There is nod to the Montessori unit on Air, Land and Water but I didn’t feel the exact unit was enough to capture Liam’s attention.) I also felt it was a nice way to talk about the Earth.
I modeled what I thought would be a good sequence for him to remember and use again with the activity. He does better following a structure with a clear beginning, clear methodical order and clear end. Although I don’t want him to rely solely on activities that offer this, I also like keep in mind what he is comfortable with when I introduce new activities! I also was hoping it would give him a sense of how he could do it on his own if he wanted to try it again.
My sequence was to first look and talk about the photos and decide where they should go on the mat. I showed him how the borders matched the colored areas of felt for air, land and water. We decide, from observation of pictures, and agreed that a few could be placed in more than one color! Discussion! After cleaning up the cards, I showed him how he could lay out the natural materials and he took over and finished up the task. He made a tree house out of the clouds (his favorite). Lastly, I showed him how to choose where animals could go. Again, from observation, we talked about what each animal was, where it might live (or fly) and whether it could be in two places on the mat. More discussion! Hooray for matching, categorizing, discussing and learning simple Earth facts!
Best part of all, he asked to do it again the next day! I would like to change the pictures to transportation and take out all sorts of air, land and water vehicles for a new twist on the idea. I just need a mini Duck Boat!