Saturday, May 7, 2011

In the Kiddie Pool for Early Learning Fun!

An inflatable baby pool is a great tool to have on hand – I like to keep a small one around for all sorts of fun- no water necessary! A 3-ft diameter size is great for a small play center, while larger is better for a library or group “sit-in” set-up!

Swim into Reading
Fill your inflated pool with some comfy cushions – I’ve thrown in a few beach towels, too, that they can roll up or spread out. Add a stack, or a beach bag, of books, such as ocean and/or fish books!  Plan with your children how many can comfortably fit in and generate rules for use.  Chances are you’ll find lots of reading going on!

Sandy Beach
This is a great way to have some sand play, even if you don’t want or don’t have a whole sandbox set up! Fill partially with some sand – you don’t need a lot! – add some shovels and maybe some shells or plastic sand toys. Watch out for sharp edges that could puncture the pool or hurt a child. You can make it a “reach in to play” center or a “get in to play” center, depending on the size of the pool and your clean-up requirements .
Imagination Play Prop
Children are resourceful in planning out how to use props for imaginary play. A small pool might be an animal pen, a baby crib, a comfy bed, even – a pool! I’ve seen one used as a stage, a lake, a fish pond – even a Jacuzzi!
Fishing Hole
Make some fishing rods from sticks you find outdoors or from some dowels (easy to find at a hardware store). Attach a length of heavy string or yarn and add a magnet to the end.  Whatever you are fishing for should have a paper clip, or something metal attached to it, to make it “catchable”! You can catch fish, octopi, and whales made out of craft foam - great hand-eye coordination practice!
Fish for Learning
Take your fishing to another level and make letter cards, number cards, matching cards – and plan games around them! If you already have cards with magnets on them, just change the fishing pole, so it has a big metal clip – it works either way! Practice letter and number recognition, do simple addition when you catch two cards – the options are endless! Colors, shapes, sight words, beginning sounds … "Look, what letter did you catch? Hmmm, what sound does that make?..." or "Find and catch a yellow fish! Now catch a red fish!"
Practice throwing/tossing into the pool to get some exercise and hone throwing skills – bean bags, beach balls or other small balls would be fun to try! Try from different distances with different things, see how things fall depending on their weight and distance – have your children guess and then experiment!
Have fun!

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