You know you’re a preschool teacher when…
… you wander up and down each aisle of the craft store, dollar store, and party store looking for supplies that would look amazing on the light table! That’s exactly what I found myself doing at the party store recently while my son spent an hour poring over all the costumes trying to find something to wear for Halloween. The last time I visited the store I scored those rainbow shot glasses and shot tubes that we used for our light table building challenge, so my expectations were high. All of a sudden, something caught my eye– swizzle stirrers. Hello! These would be perfect to make light table shapes.
The invitation to play was very simple. We put the (gorgeous, rainbow) swizzle stirrers into a clear plastic jar in the middle of the light table. Having them set up vertically, rather than laying flat on the table, is visually attractive and our students were drawn right to the center.
They started by making very simple shapes: triangles, squares, and diamonds. The way that the students explore the stirrers and talk about them is a little window into their thinking. They wondered out loud if they could make a rectangle. Two students worked together trying to figure it out. One argued that they couldn’t because each stirrer was the same length. Then the other argued back that they could “stick them together.” So smart.
Making shapes quickly morphed into making shape art with the colors. The students noticed that yellow on top of blue made green, and that the round stirrers roll around more than the ones with flat sides. This one little invitation to play, with just 1 simple ingredient, led to discussion, experiments, exploration, and debate. It’s a winner.
If you happen to find yourself at the party store wandering the aisles like I do, be on the lookout for a pack of rainbow stirrers. The learning possibilities are endless!