Tuesday, August 31, 2010

A "Bike" Wash

This past spring after the Upper Peninsula Early Childhood Conference, I was given a wonderful book: Do-It-Yourself Early Learning by Jeff and Tasha Johnson. This book is fantastic! There are plans and suggestions for a variety of toys and activities that you can make yourself with very inexpensive materials.

One of my favorite suggestion is to make a pvc pipe construction set. The book outlines various sizes of pipe to cut and a number of different types of connectors. Today, we used some of our set to make "A Bike Wash" (A similar suggestion for a car wash is outlined in the book. However, we did not opt to buy a different size pvc pipe for our version.) The children had a fantastic time cooling off and tinkering with the pipes.

"What happens when you put your finger over the hole?"

I'm fairly certain that the bikes only went through the wash once or twice....

The weather has been quite warm, and it was just as much fun to play with the "bike wash" without any bikes.

"I'm thirsty.... wonder how the water tastes?"

The PVC pipe set is a HUGE hit!!! We've been building shapes, letters, and all kinds of crazy contraptions!

If you don't already have a set. PVC pipe is extremely inexpensive at a do-it-yourself/hardware store. (I bought 10' lengths for less than $1.00). The connectors are a little bit more expensive, but still very reasonable, and the pipe cutter cost around $5. We have a wonderful set with endless opportunities for less than $30. Don't forget to look into some furniture grade piece connectors too- the regular plumbing section won't have the 3, 4, and 5 way connectors you will need in order to build more in 3-dimensions. Those connectors are not necessary, but definitely worth it in my opinion!

Some of you have asked, "How do you connect that to the hose???" it is quite simple. We purchased a brass fitting that connects to the hose! (It costs us around $3.50). You need to make sure that you have a pvc pipe connector that works with the hose adapter. We have a male threaded end connected to a female/female brass adapter. Depending on the size of pvc pipe you opt to use, (we used 1/2 "), you will have to use a different type of adapter and connectors. Your local hardware/do-it-yourself store employees in the plumbing area will be able to assist you in finding exactly what you need. In terms of the car/bike wash.... We randomly drilled holes in the pipes to make it work. Keep in mind as you are adding holes, the more you have, the less pressure there will be to force the water out of them. Happy Building!!!!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Why Did You Move the Toys?

We have a rather large sandbox in our backyard. When it was first built, it took a HUGE dump truck to deliver 19 tons of sand to fill it. (I'm quite certain that we no longer have 19 tons in the sand box, because I have to have vacuumed at least one ton of it up as it has migrated inside ;0.)

It is very tricky to build a sandbox on a hill. Our entire play yard is on a slope, and is at quite a steep angle in some areas. When we get a lot of rain (or melting snow) it causes our sand to pile up at the back edge of the sandbox. We could of course let it build up there and it will slowly slide through the cracks in our fence and end up in the parking lot below. I'm not so certain that the store located there would appreciate it all that much though.

So, our mission over the past couple of days has been to remove all of the play equipment (slides and climbers) and to move the sand to even out our sandbox again.

The shovels weren't really cutting it, so we decided to see how well our "Yooper Scoopers" would work on the sand. Unfortunately, they are made to move snow and when it comes to moving sand, they were a little too heavy. So, we went back to using our shovels and toy dump trucks.

You know, you can't move this much sand and not make a mountain......

And.... you can't have a mountain without some dinosaurs.......

And.... where there are dinosaurs, there has to be a volcano!

And.... you never know when that volcano may start to erupt....

Of course, once the volcano erupted and the dinosaurs were put away, we had to crush the mountain.

The next morning, some of our other friends arrived to find an "empty" sandbox. "Where did the slide go?" What were we going to do? What could we play with?

"Look, that looks a little bit like a mountain!"

"Let's build it bigger!"

"I wonder if I can scoop the sand?"

"Let's pat the sand down."

"Hey, do you think it is big enough?"

"Let's build another one!"

"Can I take my shoes off?" "Oh, that feels COLD!"

"Let's make (snow) sand angels!"

"I can climb the mountain!!! Stomp, stomp, stomp!"

One of our friends from last night arrived, and of course, it was time to erupt another volcano!

And... to climb and crush the mountain....

Or.... belly slide down?

Jump, Stomp, Squish!

"Look at all the footprints!"

Circle Up.... Hmmm.. What Could We Do Next?

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

When "Monster" Pendulum Meets Sidewalk Paint

Our exploration of pendulums continued today with a "monster" sized version of pendulum painting on our parking pad. We use a rather tall portable coat rack. (You can see in the photo, I'm about 5'2" tall, so we had a tall pendulum to work with today.) We also made sure that the string for the cup was long enough that our short friends could reach it when it was their turn.

Instead of liquid tempera like we used yesterday, we opted to make some homemade sidewalk paint. I know that I saw this idea when it was posted on Teach Preschool, but I cannot remember who/where it came from. (If it was you, let me know and I'll give you the credit!) All you need to do is mix cornstarch with water and a little bit of food coloring. I found that it was about a 50/50 mix with a few drops of color.

The beauty of this sidewalk paint is that it is all natural and biodegradable. We made a large batch and put it to the test with our "monster" pendulum.

While we were waiting for our turn with the pendulum, we watched and painted our own pictures on the sidewalk.

Everyone had an opportunity to choose a couple of colors and swing the pendulum.

"Look at that... the paint is coming out of the top and the bottom!"


.... I wonder what happens if I just throw the paint on the sidewalk????

Can we use regular sidewalk chalk too??? Of course we can!

I wonder if anyone will pull up onto the parking pad today???

If you missed our first pendulum painting experience, you may wish to click this link! This post was linked up to:
PreK + K Sharing

My friend died

 I learned a hell of a lot from Dan Hodgins.  He was mentor, a friend, and a "bone shaker" for many of us in the field of Early Ch...