Friday, June 28, 2013

Magnets Activity Center Early Learning Sensory Bin

There are at least a hundred sensory bins that you can make just for magnets! You can make some to sort what is and is not magnetic to learn about metals and non metals. You can take it a step further and so a metals sensory bin that helps children explore why some metals are not magnetic. You can do iron filings in sand using the magnets to separate the two. You can use strong magnets and lightweight metals to create sculptures. (Just to name a few of my favs!)  In this discovery sensory bin activity I was having the children sort items into two groups. There was a metal cup for the magnetic items and a plastic cup for the non magnetic items. I purposely added metallic painted plastic items so that we would have the opportunity to discuss that the properties of metals or other materials are not always based on sight alone. Some non metallic metals were included to discuss the property of iron causing an attraction to magnets. Your child will love experimenting independently with this activity as well as with you there to scaffold his/her learning.

You May Want to See this post About Magnets & Hypothesis for Early Education!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Egyptian Spices Learning Craft Activity

This post corresponds with the Social Studies/Global Studies Series on Egypt. However, this activity can be easily altered to represent other Ethnic Studies. I made this spice project for an Egyptian Marketplace in a Dramatic Play area. When observing photos of such markets, there are many bags, baskets and barrels of spices sold so this is an essential feature. You do not have to have a "market" for your child to enjoy this rich learning experience. Learning about cultures includes foods and spices. This activity allows your child to build lasting knowledge by involving the senses. This will develop a foundation in cooking and palette as well when your child can identify smells and tastes in foods! Here is how we did this project.

1.) We took out the spices and observed them with our senses. (You can leave them in the original containers or put them into small, shallow bowls.) We smelled and tasted them. We talked about the colors and the consistencies. Some children identified foods that they recognize having the smell of certain spices in them!

2.) We made salt dough together by measuring and mixing ingredients, and kneading the dough.

3.) Each child took a ball of dough, flattened it out a bit and we added one different spice to the center of each one. The children kneaded the spices into the dough and played with them for a bit.

4.) We rolled the individually spiced dough into balls and set them aside to dry for a few days. I made labels and stuck them in the balls of dough before they hardened.

5.) Once dry I gave the children a bowl of glue and paintbrushes. They painted their ball with glue, then poured and shook the spices onto the glue. We let them dry again.

6.) We transferred the spices into handmade paper mache bowls, then into a basket, and they were ready for the marketplace.

This same activity can be done in a variety of ways; 
  • You could make the play dough ahead with different spices and have them try to match the dough to the spice jar by scent and color. The dough would not be dried, but used a few times to play with and gain spice recognition. 
  • You could add spices to white paint and let them create whatever they want on a paper.
  • You could have them paint blobs of glue on a paper and then shake this spices on top of each one (labeled for the grown ups they share this with). 
List of Spices Prominent in Egyptian Cooking:

green pepper
sesame seeds
all spice

National Geographic Countries of the World: Egypt

from: Random House
National Geographic Kids Everything Ancient Egypt

from: Random House
Egypt - Culture Smart!

from: Random House
The Pharaohs of Ancient Egypt

Monday, June 24, 2013

Hypothesis with Magnets & Metals Activity Center

In this activity I used magnets and metals to help preschoolers form hypotheses, test them out, and report their findings. This encourages your child to use math, science, reasoning,spacial and kinesthetic skills. You will need magnets and metals along with pen and paper for reporting the findings in this experiment.

How to Run the Hypothesis with Magnets & Metals Center

You will need:

  • strips of masking tape
  • markers
  • drawing paper
  • pens, pencils or markers for drawing
  • ruler (If doing this with older children) 
  • magnetic objects
  • magnets
1.) Let your child observe the metal items and play with them with the magnet. Give them their own time and space to explore without direction from you. This will familiarize them with their supplies and give them some previous knowledge when forming their hypothesis. 

2.) Explain that you will be doing a science experiment to discover which items are drawn to the magnet faster and more slowly than others. Hold up two items and ask your child which he/she thinks will be pulled to the magnet first and why/how they came up with their answer. 

3.) Have the child draw the two items on their paper (Or write them down if the student is older).

4.) Mark or label the one they chose in some way on their paper.

5.) Put a strip of masking tape on the table or floor.

6.) Make a line at both ends of the tape; one where the items are set and the other where the magnet starts.

7.) Set the first item on the line and have your child move the magnet very slowly along the tape and stop at the moment that the item is pulled to the magnet. Mark this distance on the tape.

8.) Do the same for the second item.

9.) Have them report their findings. Which item moved faster and which moved slower and why do they think this is so?

10.) Repeat this experiment with other sets of items and discover if reasoning changes.

*For the preschoolers I had them use their paper as a "Scientific Journal" where they cataloged their items to be tested. (Drew or traced the items on the paper).

Then we took turns moving the magnet on the tape to  test each item individually (rather than in sets) and discuss the results (the marks on the paper helped us remember which ones were faster and slower). Some students felt obliged to make markings on their journals to indicate the faster items.

* This center can be done together a few times and then left as an independent activity for your child to experiment with on his/her own.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Create Your Own Egyptian Market Learning Experience

In learning about a foreign country for Social and Global Studies, recreating a dramatic play area into a cultural replica is a fantastic experience for children. Find photos and media showing present day Egyptian marketplaces and study them with your child. (I am using royalty free images in this post so the quality is limited, but there are rich photos on the internet.) Dialog about what types of items are typically sold there and what features they have in common. Depending on the age of your child you can sketch out a plan for the market listing needed items, supplies and the design. For younger students, making the items and creating the space together is adequate.

Here are some ideas of what to put in your market:

  • scarves
  • lanterns
  • spices (see this blog post for a spices learning activity and marketplace prop) 
  • Egyptian Flag
  • fruits and veggies real or pretend play items (bananas, onions, green pepper, fish, rice, etc.) 
  • Egyptian coins 
  • Egyptian pamphlets, newspapers, etc. (can print from the computer) 
  • Egyptian jewelry
  • postcards and photos (printed from the computer) 
  • candlesticks and other such items
  • rolled up rugs
  • incense
  • toys such as beetles, cats, dogs and birds

Make sure that you have large photos of various markets up in the dramatic play area so that children can mimic what they see. They can reference the photos when setting up the area and while buying and selling goods. 

Remember that to make this amazing for your child you can hand make many of these items and everything does not need to be 100% authentic. Hanging items from ceiling hooks or "clothesline" makes the marketplace more exciting. You can hang banners, scarves, cloth, fabric, bananas, lanterns and more!

Lots of shelves for organizing items is key. A money box and grocery sacks should be included. 

Resources such as Party Supply Stores and  Oriental Trading Company Online have low cost items that are specific to cultures. School Supply stores are a good resource too but tend to be more expensive. 

Printing images of Egyptian money from the computer is an idea that I would definitely use for the market. 

Do you have any ideas or photos that you want to share with your dapper friends? 
Send them to 

National Geographic Countries of the World: Egypt

from: Random House
National Geographic Kids Everything Ancient Egypt

from: Random House
Egypt - Culture Smart!

from: Random House
The Pharaohs of Ancient Egypt

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Get Ready! International Picnic Day is Coming June 18th

This is just a Plain Old Fashioned FUN day for families, friends and schools to get together and spend time enjoying the day! There are so many ideas for this day that I cant possibly list them all so make sure to add Your ideas in the comments below! Planning a picnic whether it be indoors or out is SO FUN for little ones. Kids love a change in routine for a special lunch or snack time. Make sure to involve the children in producing ideas for food and beverage choices.
  • Use this time to discuss why some foods are more suited for picnics (will it melt, be too messy, transport well, etc.)
  • Discuss Food Groups
  • Cut foods from magazines or Grocery ads and glue a balanced meal onto a picnic blanket page
  • Have children physically pick a perfect area for the picnic and discuss what to look for in a picnic spot ( flat ground with no rocks or sharp objects, shade, no bugs nearby, etc.)
  • Figure out how to use recyclable containers and reduce waste! (Talk about the environment)
  • Can children help prepare the foods and pack for the picnic?
  • What will we sit on (children bring individual blankets or towels - or large blankets to share)
  • What will we do at the picnic? (Sing Songs, Tell Jokes, or just enjoy the day?)
  • What will we do after the picnic and clean up? (Play a game, fly a kite, donate food to a pantry)
  • Incorporate the Song "Teddy Bear's Picnic" By Anne Murray
  • With the song above, have children bring a stuffed animal to the picnic (especially if it is indoors to make it a bit more special)
  • Older children can weave picnic blankets from red and white strips of paper
  • Read stories about picnics
  • Have a fancy picnic by hanging hand-made flowers, lanterns, and other art from the trees

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Get Ready - World Power of a Smile Day on June 15th

So this year the International Power of a Smile Day is on a Saturday. This is GREAT because children are likely to see many people when running around with parents this day. Make sure that children know the importance and POWER of a SMILE so that they can spread smiles all day Saturday June 15th. Some great ways to have children feel the Power of a Smile is to help children learn that smiles are often contagious. . . that just by smiling, we have the power to make someone else smile too, which in turn makes them feel happy instantly. Now THAT is some pretty great Power! Like a Smile Superhero.

  • Do an experiment with children by having them smile at someone. Did they smile back? YES! For older children use a graph and see how many returns they get on their smiles.
  • Make smile buttons, badges or ribbons to wear on Smile Day
  • Make smile cards (like business cards) to give out to people on Smile Day
  • Children can draw smiley faces on round stickers (very cheap - often used for garage sales) to hand out on Smile Day
  • Have children watch them in mirrors and practice different smiles - they could draw self-portraits during this time as well
  • Sing "If You're Happy and You Know It" and have children think of new things to do such as "Moo like a cow", "Hug a Friend", "Blink your Eyes", "Say hola", "Show a SMILE", etc.
  • Talk about tooth care
  • Books about Feelings

  • Tie it in to Literacy with the letter "S"
 *DO you have any other resources or great ideas that you would like to share? COMMENT 
   BELOW! Or send them to with the subject #TDCH share and
   any links or names for listing credit. THANKS!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

How to Make Egyptian Hieroglyphic Rubbings

Rubbings are an important part of learning because they give a sensory dimension to assimilating information. They promote gross motor movements. They allow children to capture control and pressure when using a writing utensil. And it is FUN! For the Egypt studies Series I made simple rubbings for the children. 

To make your own you will need:
  •     Cardboard
  •       Pencil
  •     Glue gun and glue sticks

1.) Find pictures of hieroglyphics (or copy mine at the end of this post) 
2.) sketch them onto your cardboard.
3.) Go over the sketches with glue gun lines.

You are done!
Here are the ones that I made for the students. 

Teaching the Lesson

Before introducing the rubbings, we looked at books and other media that exposed the students to hieroglyphics.  The children had discovered that the ancient Egyptians used pictures to tell stories. We looked at hieroglyphics and I had the students try to decipher the stories that they Egyptians were trying to tell. (This is SO FUN to hear their stories!) 

Then when I introduced the rubbings, I suggested that they might use their rubbings to create their own stories. Many of the students put their single rubbings side by side from left to right to tell their stories. Other students put multiple rubbings on one paper to tell their story. 

Learning texture is the beginning of classifying and categorizing. 
It is a major part of sensory experiences that are essential to building knowledge.

Here are a few close ups for you to copy and use for your child. 

Read more about Egyptian Studies for Kids!

National Geographic Countries of the World: Egypt

from: Random House
National Geographic Kids Everything Ancient Egypt

from: Random House
Egypt - Culture Smart!

from: Random House

Saturday, June 8, 2013

How to Create & Teach an Egypt Archaeological Dig Experience

Social Studies and Global Studies are so important for people of every age. Young learners are no exception. In this post you will see how I developed a learning experience that fit into a global unit study of Egypt as well as Archaeology. I will show you how to make your own archaeological dig for your children to become scientists and recreate the past. Please read this post about teaching your child social studies for a background understanding on planning ideas before introducing this to your children. For example, days before you introduce the discovery bin, expose your child to books and media on Egyptian artifacts and digs so they have the background knowledge to fully understand and appreciate the experience.

  Making Your Archaeological Discovery Bin

 You will need:
 • sand or dirt
 • small hand held rakes and shovels
 • paintbrushes
 • various sizes and thickness of sticks painted white (represent bones)
 • (you could also use cleaned, boiled bones from a chicken for a more realistic experience)
 • “bones” wrapped in cloth (mummified) • Egyptian look jewelry
 • Pottery painted with Egyptian symbols and gem stones

 During the process of studying books and videos about archaeology, we discussed why archaeologists dig up artifacts. We studied and became familiar with artifacts from Egypt and bones of the human body. (At the same time there was a dramatic play center set up as a doctor’s office and studies of body parts, x-rays and bones which helped with these connections.) At the time of the “dig” I sat with the children and had them evaluate large photos of archaeological sites.

I asked questions to encourage the children to figure out the techniques used to complete a dig. The children noticed people using rakes, shovels and brushes. We discussed that being careful and gentle during a dig is key to preserving the bones and artifacts. We observed the archaeologists laying out their finds to categorize items and put them together. This dialog helped establish rules and goals for the dig! Then it was time to become archaeologists!

The children worked together cooperatively to excavate the site. It was exciting for me to hear them using the higher level vocabulary that they had been exposed to. I offered gentle reminders about behavior and rules of course. 

As they found artifacts, the children placed them on a plastic mat. As more bones and other items emerged, some children began to arrange them into bodies! Their talents at 2 - 4 years old never cease to amaze me.


After the dig we compared our site to the photos of dig sites. We discussed our findings as they were discovered in the sand, and again after they were laid out and categorized. We looked at our books to compare our artifacts to genuine artifacts. 

Then we buried everything in the sand and now that they children had gone through the process with guidance, they were able to do this activity independently again and again!

Read more about Social/Global Studies for Children.
National Geographic Countries of the World: Egypt

from: Random House
National Geographic Kids Everything Ancient Egypt

from: Random House
Egypt - Culture Smart!

from: Random House