We (50 children and their caregivers!) took a walk around the library, collecting natural treasures as we went. In our plants themed learning earlier this month we learned that plants breathe through their leaves, so we didn't want to pick any living leaves or flowers off our plants. The children were incredibly respectful, choosing fallen leaves, petals, sticks, seed pods, bark and more, but leaving all the living and growing things outside where they belong.
Back inside, we provided blank pages for the children to arrange their treasures, but instead of giving them glue or another way to stick everything together permanently, we made our creations temporary works - and encouraged our families to teach their children how to use camera phones to capture their pictures!
Here a grandmother is teaching her little one how to use the camera phone, and to email it to mom and dad at work! This is age appropriate use of technology, a way to use it to connect children and families. I LOVE IT!
Our caterpillars arrived this week, and we'll be watching them grow and metamorphose - we had out caterpillar books and magnifying glasses today.
We also put out a lovely natural sensory bin for our little ones to explore. I recently trimmed my rosemary bushes, and saved the fragrant leaves to use as a base for our bin. We added pretty pebbles, pine cones and shells. As the children searched through the bin, the rosemary leaves separated from their stems and released a beautiful scent. This was a sensory bin in more ways than one!
Small children seem to love collecting tiny things, and this group was no exception. They carefully collected every pebble, shell and pine cone from the rosemary, then sorted and explored them. (The long conical shells at the top of this picture turn out to be "unicorn horn shells". Who would have known?)
Seeing the kiddos sorting, we grabbed out some trays and had them work together to separate all the materials - wonderful for us, because we were planning to sort it all out to put it away when the children were done.
There was one more fantastic learning opportunity today, but I'm not a skilled enough photographer to capture it well: we introduced the children to maple seeds. If there was a maple tree anywhere in your neighborhood as a child, you may remember them as "helicopter seeds" - when tossed in the air they spiral down like little helicopters. I had collected hundreds of them while walking this last week, and the children were, of course, fascinated. There were 8 - 10 children at a time on the carpet throwing seeds up in the air, and laughing and jumping as they watched them spiral down.
Natural materials like these are free, just laying around at our feet, waiting for us to remember the wonder of being a child scientist, to joyfully explore and discover.
May all our days be filled with helicopter seeds, unicorn horn shells, and the laughter of children!