Friday, April 24, 2015

Toddler Obstacle Course

Every once in a while, I like to shake up my storytime crowd and do something different. This time, it was the preschool/toddler obstacle course. I got the idea from The Show Me Librarian originally, and then I looked up some more ideas, considered what I had in stock, and set up my course. In the end, I ended up spending $7 on seven hula hoops and that was it. 

It started with a castle at the entrance to the meeting room. I made this castle with the foam squares I bought for my Life-sized Candyland program. I simply made them in to cubes and stacked them up to build a castle. 

Right after the castle was the star tunnel. I used the star to make three separate paths so that the kids could explore at their own pace and not have to wait to go through one at time. I put tape arrows on the different arms to designate the paths. I also put tape arrows on the floor as well to guide the kids through the obstacles.

Path 1: 
First, the tape line. The idea was to walk on the line and not knock over the blocks. Some kids did this, some enjoyed knocking over the blocks on purpose, and some just started building with the blocks. 

The tape line.
The Big Tunnel. I put chairs out and hung sheets over them.

The Big Tunnel. Not pretty, but fun. 
The Stuffed Animal hop. I put out four stuffed animals and encouraged the kids to jump over them. Some did, some just liked the carry the animals around. 

Stuffed Animal Hop. 
Path 2: 
The Bean Bags. The idea was for the kids to go over the first one, around the second one, and under the last one. The toddlers just clambered over them while the preschoolers really got into this. One kid said "I can't go under it!" so I demonstrated one way to do it and by the end, the kids were exploring all sorts of options. 

Bean Bags
Hula Hoops. Hop through the hula hoops. 

Hula hoops
The tape line. Putting one foot in front of the other, the kids walked the tape line. 

The tape line 
Path 3:
The Bean Bag Toss. I put out a hula hoop, put a tape line on the ground, and put some bean bags in a bucket next to it. I encouraged the kids to throw three bean bags into the hoop. Most kids threw them all in. Why not? Bean bags are fun. 

Bean bag toss
Over Under. I put eight chairs in formation and put tape lines on the bottom and the top of the chairs and had the kids climb through. I had to replace the tape lines a few times, but I preferred tape to yarn because if they did get caught then it would rip off instead of tangling them up. 

Over Under
Block Stacking. I have some cardboard brick sets with bricks of different sizes (also featured in the tape line at the beginning) so I took the small bricks and challenged the kids to build the tallest tower they could. They had fun building them and knocking them down. 

Block Stacking
The Foam Tunnel. I used my remaining foam blocks to make a big block tunnel. It was a last minute addition, but the kids really enjoyed it. 

The Foam Tunnel
The foam tunnel led back to the castle and the first entrance to the star tunnel so the kids could start over if they wanted. 

I did the program on Tuesday morning when I have a Toddler Storytime followed by a Preschool Storytime so that the course could be used by the maximum number of kids. The kids didn't always take the paths or use the obstacles the way I had planned, but they had a great time learning gross motor skills and I enjoyed doing something different for a day. 

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Preschool Art / Discovery Club: Dot Art

It was Art Week with my Preschool/Afterschool program, and I decided to explore pointillism.

Inspired by this and by this, I first did the program with my preschoolers in the morning and then with the older kids after school.

For the preschoolers:

I read "The Dot" by Peter Reynolds, which honestly may have gone over the kids' heads a little bit, but they were attentive and we all took time to pick out our favorite dot in Vashti's art show.

Then I took out some books with examples of pointillism - mostly Seurat. We talked about how big the Grande Jatte painting actually is and discussed how the painting would look if you were very close to it (all dots). This led to several minutes of the kids trying to bring the book close to their faces to see if they could see the dots. Not sure if this was totally effective, but what the heck. 

Then we painted our own dots!

There were two stations for this project. At one, the kids could use qtips or pompoms held with clothespins to paint dots. 

Paint plates ready to go!

I handed out blank pieces of paper for those who were inspired, but I also gave out two templates (a tree and an egg) in case they wanted to paint those instead.

The second station for the preschoolers was much more process art than the first and I basically did it because it sounded like so much fun that I couldn't resist. I allowed myself the loose tie-in of "painting with round things."

I have several empty baby formula cans, so for this project we put half sheets of paper into the cans, squirted some paint inside, dropped in some pom poms, closed it nice and tight (very important!) and shook shook shook it! 

All the necessary ingredients.

The results!

For my afternoon Discovery Club, we started in much the same way. We read The Dot, declared a favorite dot in Vashti's display, and talked about Seurat. The conversation was a little more in-depth this time, but they still tried to look very closely at the book. (Maybe I should do a Magic Eye program....). 

The older kids also got blank papers, eggs, and trees, but for them I printed out a simple landscape (from a free coloring page website) that they could fill in with dots. They got q-tips to paint with, but no pompoms this time around! 

The results were varied and wonderful. I found this program was one of the easiest to scale up and down for preschool and for the afterschool crowd. Everyone painted according to their ability and taste and everyone was proud of their masterpieces. 

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