This week's Play to Learn program was another collaborative (credit will be given below). Color Zoo by Lois Ehlert is one of those early childhood classic books that every child should read. Between the shapes and colors, there is a lot of good stuff here. The hard part comes when you are brainstorming ideas to go along with the book. Below is what we came up with.
Station 1-Make Nametags
Instead of staff making nametags, we have the children and/or their parents make them for this program. We put out a fun shape, some yarn or tape, and child pencils. In addition, I write out all of the children's names so they can trace them from a list. A colleague (Deb) had a sheet of nametags with the cute borders and shapes so I only had to copy, cut, and punch them out.
Station 2-Read the Book
I pulled out all of the copies of Color Zoo that I could find for this station. To add some additional fun, I pulled out 3 pizza box flannelboards. Each box contained 1/3 of the story (otherwise, there were just too many parts in one box).
The kids liked to make the animals in the book out of felt shapes. Then, they began to experiment and make their own creatures. This was good for their imagination.
To give a little more shape practice, I also pulled out my large flannelboard and my copy of Baa, Baa, Shape Sheep from Making Learning Fun.
Station 3-Make Shape Puppets
I found this idea on Pinterest and thought it would work perfectly. I cut out a wide variety of shapes with our AccuCut dies. I scattered them across the table, along with glue sticks and crayons, although I did try to put one large shape at everyone's place to get them started. To make the popsicle stick easily stick to the shapes, we used a glue dot on the end. (This I could prepare ahead of time, leaving the backing on one side of the glue dot and attaching it to the stick.) I will admit, I am not super creative when it comes to things like puppets (as seen below), but the kids came up with some great things. I had one who folded a triangle in half to make a beak. Another decided that their puppet needed a body and kept building.
Station 4-Button Sorting Station
I love when you can reuse a great station! This one we had purchased from Lakeshore Learning for our Pete the Cat Play to Learn program. The buttons have a wide variety of shapes and colors that you can sort on various labelled mats.
does button sorting promote early literacy? With our button sorting
station, the mats each had a characteristic printed across the top, such
as triangles or purple. The goal of the station is to add buttons with
that characteristic to the mat. This reinforces the comprehension
skill. The child is seeing the word and learning that it has meaning.
Then they are using that meaning as they work at the station. A
secondary skill here is the sorting skill that promotes early childhood
This was, by far, the most popular station. We purchased the Color & Shapes Activity Mats through Lakeshore Learning as we expect this set to get heavy traffic. You could also make some using colored paper and laminating them. Set-up was easy as I just scattered them across the floor. On our sign, I gave a list of directions to get them started, such as "Jump on the red star." They had no problems once they got going. In fact, most of them took their puppets (from station 3) and would hold them as they jumped to the different shapes. In addition to the gross motor skills that they kids were working on, they did a lot of talking as they played on the shapes. We found green squares, orange stars, etc. Colors and shapes are a great way to practice talking with kids as they can see "red" at the same time you are talking about red.
While it wasn't expected, the kids also worked on the early childhood skill of sorting as they liked to move the shapes around by shape or color. Luckily the shapes are a little heavy so they weren't dragged all around the room.
Station 6-Make a Book
I love to include a book activity in all of our Play to Learn programs. Since our focus is early literacy, the children can work on their book in the program, then take it home and read it with their family. This book was created by Deb again. I like it because there is a lot of shape tracing. The shapes are all labelled so kids can see the words that match the shapes. Some of the pages had a picture made out of shapes, such as a sailboat, and the kids counted the triangles.