STEM Outdoor Play Ideas: Birds, Bricks, and Heart-Shaped Rocks
A Little Birdie Told Me
No matter our location; the city, the suburbs, the country, or oceanside, we see and hear birds. Children spot them all the time and are often curious about them. How many classroom science centers include a nest – Many!!! Our little feathered friends perch in the trees, fly overhead, cast shadows, and sing. But what are they communicating to one another? Invite your children to imaginatively interpret their lyrical conversations, use musical instruments to accompany their song notes, or draw the world from their unique perspective. These outdoor play ideas might just fuel a deeper look or an entire investigation of birds and other animals. Best part about this idea, all you need do is step outside your door.
Key Content Areas: Fine Arts, Language and Literacy, Earth Science
Make Your Own “Adobe” Bricks Using Kodo Clay
Put your young engineers to work constructing something new! You’ll need a few materials – your own air dry clay or Kodo Clay, your own playground sand, or for a more dramatic color, use Jurassic Sand.
Using your hands, mix together some air dry clay, dry playground sand, and a couple of spoonfuls of water in a bucket or bowl. Add teaspoons of water at a time, until the mixture is easy to work with. (If your mixture is too wet, your bricks may not form completely.)
Mix and work with your hands until the sand is distributed evenly throughout the clay and the mixture is similar to cookie dough, ( gritty cookie dough).
Spread your brick mixture evenly on a sheet of wax paper. Use a rolling pin and smooth to a height of approximately 1/2 inch. (Using a rolling pin will remove air bubbles and will help prevent cracking as the bricks dry.)
To cut the dough into brick shapes, an adult should use a knife along a straight edge ruler or other tool. (Cut pieces uniformly to ensure that your mini bricks will be the same size.)
Let the bricks dry on the wax paper until they harden. (Sunlight is not necessary for air dry clay to dry.)
Key Content Areas: Science (Chemistry), Engineering
Heart Stones Are Everywhere!
Have you ever looked closely at rocks and stones in your playground, local park, or shoreline? Well children do it all the time. Without being prompted, they heed nature’s invitation to explore and take a closer look at what’s underfoot. Certainly we try to teach children to leave only footprints and take only pictures, but that shouldn’t stop them from exploring and uncovering treasures. We found these heart shaped rocks scattered in the landscaping here at Kodo headquarters. Now we keep them in a basket to fidget with during company meetings! Yes, we play, too! Think about asking every family to go hunting for heart stones and bring one or two to school….oh the stories they’ll tell and the connections they’ll make!!
Key Content Areas: Relationships- Community, Earth Science, Mathematics -Shape Recognition, Symmetry/Asymmetry, Fine Arts – Abstraction
Spring and Summer always signal to early childhood educators, gardeners, and farmers of all sorts ... Read more