Thursday, April 7, 2016

Springtime Learning Activities for Toddlers and Preschoolers


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As the weather is getting warmer, my kids are spending more and more time outside.  They love the sunshine and the feel of mud and grass on their feet.  Outdoor play has it's own learning opportunities, but there are lots of things parents can do with their kids to increase their knowledge, while still having fun in the sun.  Here are a few ideas from past years:

One of the first sensory bins that we did was this Pond bin.  The substrate is tapioca pearls that have been dyed with blue food coloring.  We added some yellow rubber ducks, but the kids were much more interested in the feel of the tapioca pearls than in playing with the ducks.  You can read more about this sensory bin at the original post.

One of our homeschool units was called "J is for Jungle."  We focused on the Amazon rainforest and talked about caiman, tropical fruits, and coffee beans.  This sensory bin had unflavored gelatin that I dyed green and plain water.  The kids loved to squish the jello and watch it melt in the sun.  We sang, "Five Little Monkeys swinging from a tree," a lot that week.  Clean-up meant simply dumping the water into the yard and putting the "caimans" away in our homeschool supplies for next year.

We had a very dry summer last year with lots of forest fires.  To help the kids understand forest fires, how they start, and who works to put them out, we did a summer unit on fires.  We pretended to be firefighters and "put out" shaving cream fires with spray bottles.  The other highlight from the week was our forest fire demonstration with matches and play dough.  You can check it out that experiment on the original blog post.

The kids have been asking me every day if it's warm enough to make a worm box again.  They loved this box of dirt with big, wiggly nightcrawlers in it.  This year, I'd like to try composting with them and teaching the kids natural recycling.  In the meantime, the kids have been using their garden tools to dig for worms in our new flower beds.  It's been very rainy lately, so the kids haven't had to work very had to find them.  It's a great learning opportunity.

I hope this has inspired you to get outside with your kids and play in the sunshine with them.  What do you like to do outside?  Share your ideas in the comments below.

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