Sand and Water Tables As Educational Tools

Sand and Water Tables are a perfect addition to classrooms, daycares, playrooms or backyards. Really, anywhere there are children with adults interested in their education. There are literally hundreds of ways to elevate the level of learning for your children by coming up with different projects, or using different material, even conduction experiments with your sand and water tables. Children will experience development in sensory, motor and social skills, and have a broader understanding of spatial relations and natural science. Oh yea, and an amazing amount of fun!

When choosing a project for your class or your kids be mindful of their ages. For example; if you are going to substitute sand with dry noodles make sure small children are being supervised closely to prevent choking. For older children lay down some rules and give them some responsibility over their sand and water table. If you take the sand and water tables out regularly get the children into a routine of set up and clean up. This not only makes your life easier, but this teaches them to work together and as you praise them for a job well done they will learn to take pride in work.

Free play requires little preparation on your part and is one of the greatest ways to use your sand and water table. There are very few limitations on what your children can experience. Try setting your children up with sand, water and toy sea creatures. Throw grass in there for sea weed. Not that children need much encouragement before they play pretend, but sometimes its fun to teach them about the ocean maybe let them color in an octopus or shark before letting them go. Free play is a highly educational time for children, it is not simply a way to keep the kids occupied, though it does accomplish this well. During this time children learn to create their own worlds which gives them a sense of control over their environment. Children are young and their imaginations are powerful and this little tub is like a melting pot. Watch your children closely and you will see them working things out together and yes sometimes fighting as their view of this play world may clash with someone elses’ view. Free play helps them learn to share, not only toys but also space and a collaborative view of their ocean world.

Sensory Games are also excellent ways to use your sand and water activity tables. One idea is to first make the water cloudy with paint or even mud. Then place different object at the bottom. Then have the children form a line and one at a time try to guess, by using their sense of touch, what is at the bottom of the tub. Aside from random objects, have each child bring something from home. Send them home the day before with a ditto explaining the project so their mom can help them find something suitable. Then have them bring it in concealed in a paper bag and brought to you. This project is fun to watch the kids try so hard not to tell the others what they brought in. And they all get pretty excited when their object gets picked. Another variation of this is to find three dimensional letters and numbers and have them feel what symbol they are holding. After they have guessed their letter correctly have them hold on to it for a project to do latter where you can reinforce their understanding of the alphabet, now from a platform of pride and accomplishment. Children always learn better when they think its their idea or that they have somehow earned it.

Other fun educational activities are Sand and Water Table Experiments. By using your sand and water table children can learn about photosynthesis, metamorphosis, erosion and countless other laws of natural science. Try filling a clear tub with healthy soil and divide the tub in half by placing an opaque tub over on half (so as to block out light on that half). Then have each child place two seeds in the soil, one each side. Make sure they place their seeds close to the outside, half the fun is watching the roots grow. As they see the plants growing you can explain photosynthesis by teaching the kids how plants need to eat soil, water and sunlight like they need to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner.

While sand and water tables are built for the convenience of having a portable and secure tub, many of the same projects, experiments and fun can be had by using large plastic bowls, baby bathtubs, or any container that can hold water, be easily dumped and is not in danger of braking.

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Corey Hardin, Vice President to JoLee OE Early Childhood Educational Products. If you are interested in purchasing Sand and Water Tables, Sensory Tables, or simply looking for fun projects to do with your sand and water tables, I recommend Fun Kids Tables.http://www.funkidstables.com

The role of teachers

We expect teachers to handle teenage pregnancy, substance abuse, and the failings of the family. Then we expect them to educate our children.

~John Sculley

[more quotations on teaching and education]

Is Sweden’s Classroom-Free School the Future of Learning?

The traditional setup of school classrooms—straight rows of desks with accompanying chairs—doesn’t do much to foster creativity or collaboration. Many experts have proposed redesigning classroom furniture, but a Swedish school system wants to take things a step further. Vittra, which operates 30 schools in Sweden, is seeking to ensure learning takes place everywhere on campus by eliminating classrooms altogether. http://bit.ly/L50DPh

Class Novels – make them a positive reading experience

Seeing as it’s the start of the school year and that 2012 is the National Year of Reading, I thought it would be a good time to talk about making the class novel a positive reading experience.

A couple of years ago I was visiting a school when an enthusiastic English teacher asked me if I could suggest new ways to engage students studying a class novel. Following on from this, I did a talk on New Ways To Present Class Texts at a 2010 VATE (Victorian Association of English Teacher’s) Conference.

At the time it struck me that the getting the most out of the class novel isn’t just about the teacher. It’s about collaboration between teacher, parent/caregiver and student.

As an author and parent, I want my kids to feel inspired by their class novel. I want them to learn about the book and how it was created; to help them gain an increased understanding of the way it was written and the themes and topics covered.

I think there’s a lot that parents/caregivers can do to help this process, and the first thing is to read the novel ourselves so that we model good reading, and that we’re in a position to have informed and insightful discussion about the book within the family.

=> http://bit.ly/A7OIIk

Understanding Boys

Hopefully, society is well past the “politically correct” theory (an oxymoron in a democratic society) that the ONLY difference between a male and a female is in socialization-that aside from reproductive organs, there is no difference between the sexes neurologically, psychologically, or emotionally.

A boy measures everything he does or says by a single yardstick: “Does this make me look weak?” If it does, he isn’t going to do it. That’s part of the reason that video games have such a powerful hold on boys. The action is constant; boys can calibrate just how hard the challenges will be; and when they lose, the defeat is private.

With this in mind, it’s important to remember that PUBLIC competition improves performance, but NOT LEARNING. Some students will practice for hours spurred on by the competitive spirit in music competition, athletics, or speech contests. These students are motivated to compete. Competition can be fun, as witnessed by the hours that young people invest in such activities. However, competition is devastating for the youngster-especially the boy-WHO NEVER FINDS HIMSELF IN THE WINNER’S CIRCLE. Rather than compete, that student drops out by giving up.

As an elementary school principal and the elementary committee chair for one of the regions of the Association of California School Administrators (ACSA), I recommended that the entry age to kindergarten be raised, not lowered. I had seen first hand how so many young boys were not cognitively developed enough to handle some of the “sitting still” academic challenges facing them.

More recently, at my presentations I receive an increasing number of kindergarten teachers who each year continue to tell me that their current crop of young boys is the worst they have ever had. For a number of reasons, these young boys are simply not socialized enough before thrusting academics at them.

More and more young boys will become “at-risk” as early as kindergarten because the feeling associated with weakness in the academic skills negatively impinges on their self-talk and self-esteem. I repeat a recurrent theme in my presentations: “People do good when they feel good-not when they feel bad.”

Boys would rather drop out by losing interest and misbehaving than show that they can’t perform. Weakness does not motivate them to want to participate. It takes a masterful teacher and parent to encourage them to persevere.

The three principles to practice of (1) communicating in positive language, (2) reducing coercion by prompting choice-response thinking, and (3) sharing how to act reflectively rather than reflexively can be of significant assistance when dealing with young boys.

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See the teaching model at http://www.marvinmarshall.com.

Dr. Marvin Marshall is an American educator, writer, and lecturer. He is known for his program on discipline and learning, his landmark book Discipline Without Stress® Punishments or Rewards – How Teachers and Parents Promote Responsibility & Learning, and his presentations about his multiple-award winning book Parenting Without Stress® – How to Raise Responsible Kids While Keeping a Life of Your Own. Visit http://www.MarvinMarshall.com for more information.

An Attention Span – Your Child’s Basic Foundation For Success in School and in Life

“May I have your attention?” With that request made daily in thousands of classrooms, teachers make an important assumption: Attention must be given from within the child. The ability to mentally focus, attend, and sustain concentration is an internal process within the human brain-mind. Because it’s an internal ability the human attention span has to be protected, nudged, and nurtured along in childhood and adolescence. The right ingredients from the external world will ensure the attention’s span development. The wrong ingredients can hinder its development, and even extinguish it. => http://bit.ly/wsedgl

Learning … and teaching!

Ah, to be a teacher under these circumstances!

“Personally, I am always ready to learn, although I do not always like being taught.”

– Winston Churchill

Happy Teachers Day – Celebrating Teacher appreciation week

Teachers need all the appreciation they can get. What a marvelous job they do – far beyond just teaching the curriculum subjects, which of course keep expanding every year!

I have gathered together resources for celebrating this week – Teacher Appreciation week. There are craft ideas, printables, ideas for gifts, and lots of other bits and pieces. You can find them here => http://bit.ly/lzP2ax

Get the dirt on researching

From the Bright Ideas blog

DiRT is the Digital Research Tools wiki. It is designed to collect information on tools and resources for scholars, but many tools suit the needs of the primary and secondary classrooms. DiRT provides a directory of tools organised by activity, such as ‘author an interactive work’, ‘collect data’, ‘create a mashup’, and ’search visually’.