Welcome back to the first #PLAYfulpreschool theme for 2015! We’re focusing on a winter animals preschool theme this week. In that vein, I came up with some sensory and literacy fun with a seek-and-find game.
Are you following Fun-A-Day’s Winter Animals Pinterest board?
Related: Winter Activities for Preschoolers
I had a few different goals for this activity:
- Introduce the concept of arctic animals in a hands-on way
- Let the kiddos have a time to explore the concept while playing and talking with me
- Integrate observing and recording like “arctic scientists”
Related: Penguin Sensory Bin
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Materials we used
Safari Ltd. Arctic animals
Glass gems (I got mine at a local craft store, but you can also find some HERE)
Paper and pencils
Real pictures of Arctic animals (they matched the toy animals we used)
I placed the salt inside one of our wooden trays to start with. This turned into a pretty popular activity, so I ended up getting more salt! I didn’t have enough deep wooden trays, so the salt got put inside disposable baking pans. I set the gems, along with some white rocks, into a few wooden bowls. Then everything was put out on our science table, along with some pictures and animals.
How we played
I let the kiddos explore the salt and the animals before we got into the game. This was a great way for me to sit with them and chat about the Arctic and what animals live there. I was able to pepper in the real names of the animals, as well as bring up information about the weather and landscape. It’s amazing how much ground can be covered by just playing and talking with kids!
After exploring the animals and the salt, I asked the kids if they wanted to a play a game. Of course, the answer was yes. I explained that we were going to be “Arctic scientists” – we were going to look for animals and record the ones we found. I had the kiddos close their eyes, then I buried some of the animals in the salt.
The children started digging into their “snow” when I said they could open their eyes. They identified the animals they found, then I encouraged them to write down their animals’ names. I pointed out that scientists observe and then record their findings. I helped the children say the words slowly and encouraged them to write the letters they heard.
After a few rounds of seek-and-find, the students went back to sensory and pretend play. They used the salt to make it “snow”, initiated their own games of seek-and-find, created stories about expeditions (a word I’d used at the beginning of the day – one of the boys latched onto it and used it throughout his pretend play), etc. One of my girls even used the gems to make different letters – she’d seen me make an ‘M’ the day before and was so excited to show me she could do it, too!
Further exploring a winter animals preschool theme
This activity was just the start of our theme. We’ll be exploring winter animals more over the next couple of weeks. We’ll read books about the Arctic, integrate science and math into our learning, and post more Arctic animal pictures and words up in the classroom. I’m excited to see where this takes us!
What activities would you add to a winter animals preschool theme? If so, I’d love for you to share them in the comments below!
More ideas for a winter animals preschool theme
More from my #PLAYfulpreschool buds –
Polar Animal Math Games and Activities
Polar Bear Math Game by The Educators’ Spin On It
Counting to 5 with Penguins by Life Over C’s
Polar Animals Mega Blocks Puzzle by Tiny Tots Adventures
Polar Bear Activities and Books for Preschool by The Preschool Toolbox Blog