Thursday, January 26, 2012

What about balls and ramps?

When the children returned to school after our winter break, I introduced a new center:  balls and ramps.  This idea is taken directly from my wonderful conference with Bev Bos this past summer, wherein she provides seemingly endless quantities of:

  • 1-inch cove moulding
  • wood blocks
  • cardboard tubes
  • other odds and ends for support beams and tunnels
and she lets the children explore these.  

I have long been a fan of cardboard tubes and balls, and I typically spend a good month or so exploring these with my preschoolers.  I loved the idea of extending this play with a variety of wood pieces - and I particularly liked the idea of creating a "discovery area" for this exploration, one which would be available to the children at their choosing.

Here's how Bev stored all the odds and ends for children to create ramps:

Here are two photos of the fun we teachers had with balls and ramps at Bev's conference this summer:

When I returned from the July conference, I asked my husband (Tony) if we had any such "1-inch cove moulding"... soon thereafter, he was in Atlanta visiting our brother-in-law, who just so happens to be a trim carpenter, and together they went through his workshop searching for pieces of wood moulding that might work with marbles, ping pong balls, or plastic golf balls.  Tony carried home a suitcase full of moulding for me to use in my classroom this year - and with that kind of effort, I won't quibble about it being larger than 1-inch.  The children are having a blast with these loose pieces, creating ramps throughout the classroom in all sorts of unusual ways.  Here are some photos with the preschool "Big Cats" this month:

Perhaps you are wondering what are the children learning with such play?  Well, let me help you:
  • Mathematics, including counting, quantifying, comparing and measuring, and understanding spatial relationships,
  • Cognitive skills, including attending and engaging, persistence, curiosity, motivation, predicting, and inventing,
  • Social emotional skills, including self-regulation, working with peers, and taking turns,
  • Science, including cause and effect and how things work, and
  • Love of learning!!
And here are some of the things I've overheard the children say, as they work with the balls and ramps:

"This is really working..."
"I have an even cooler, it falls down, and goes like this..."
"What are you building, Sydney? May I build with you?"
"Ha, ha, ha, Lucca, that's great!  Whoa! Look! I did it, too!"
"Let me tell you how this works.  Here's how it goes. You have to drop it and bounce it, first."
"Let's finish this. Let's do it!"
"Did you see these?  Look, it opens!"
"What I wanted to do was add these two together...but...oh, here it goes!"

Yes, balls and ramps are here to stay.

1 comment:

  1. Bev Bos is pretty amazing isn't she? I've been inspired by her too. Nice blog post.