Whenever I create a play or learning activity for my kids (ages 2 and 5), I like to try to make it very open-ended. By allowing them to explore on their own without too much involvement, I’m able to provide them with the opportunity to create and imagine. Open-ended activities are also great when you have multiple ages of children- each child can explore your activity in a way that’s meaningful to him or her.
With the weather being so nice, I decided to take our bug and dirt sensory play activity outside. Together the kids and I made some muddy looking oobleck. (If you’re not familiar with oobleck, it’s a mixture of cornstarch and water that doesn’t really act like a liquid or solid. Oobleck is actually a non-Newtonian fluid that responds to pressure rather than temperature. Basically, it’s a really fun thing to play with!)
To make our oobleck, we found an empty container and poured in some cornstarch. We slowly added water and mixed it around with our hands until we liked the consistency. To make it look like mud, we added some blue, yellow, and red food coloring to create brown!
We took the muddy mixture outside with our Melissa and Doug bag of bugs set that we received free from Gummylump. I also brought out some cookies sheets. We poured the muddy oobleck into all the cookies sheets so there were lots of bug worlds to create. The bugs had so much fun playing in their mud! (The kids did too!)
We added some rocks and sticks to create little play spaces for them. When the bugs had had enough play time, they got washed in the water table and were back to their old clean selves.
Later after lunch we brought the bugs inside so they could join us in creating a response to our play experience. Lucy sat down with her story paper, crayons and markers and got busy drawing her bugs playing in the muddy oobleck.
When she had finished her illustration, she told me the sentence she wanted to write. We focused on the sentence one word at a time, segmenting each word orally and listening to each sound as it was written. Lucy also used a bug space stick (just a popsicle stick with a little ladybug I drew on it) to help her remember to put spaces between words. She was so proud of her work!
Theo is still exploring making marks on paper, but that doesn’t mean he can’t take part too! Kids learn so much by observing others and gaining confidence by trying on their own. Theo was very happy to take part and make his own creation!
There are so many stages to writing. (Here’s a website with a nice description of the various stages of developmental writing.) Your child may prefer “pretend” writing and having you write the dictation below their writing. Or they may simply prefer you write the sentence they dictate to you. Even that is a great learning experience- they can watch and listen to you model how to write!
We hope to get some more writing in this summer, as well as some more dirt and bug play!
This post was written as part of the Gummy Lump Summer Camp at Home series. Be sure to check out all the other great ideas to keep kids learning this summer, including our post over on the Gummylump Blog~ Learning Map Skills with a Bug Hunt!