Candy Cane Science and Sensory in the Classroom

During this time of year, as early educators, we struggle with how to incorporate the Holidays that are so important to our students, while still managing to be inclusive, unbiased, and religious free.  Often times we feel as though we cannot “celebrate” anything in the classroom, or we need to touch on every possible holiday to be considered inclusive.  And yet so many of these holidays are religious in nature, but we certainly can’t teach that at school.  It can be such a headache!
My advice is always to be inclusive of all family traditions.  Sometimes this might mean polling your families to see what their traditions are at home.  Invite family members in to share  a special story or special activity that is important to their family.  If a child brings a book from home, read it!  Your families will feel included, and your students will feel pride and ownership over their family traditions.  With young children who are just so excited about this time of year, it can almost be more harmful to “ignore” their excitement.  It is perfectly ok to incorporate their excitement into classroom lessons, particularly when they initiate their thoughts.
There are still tons of activities that you can bring into the classroom that don’t have any ties to particular holidays.  One of my favorites are candy canes!  The possibilities are literally endless…be sure to stock up on peppermint extract and red food coloring!
Today I am showcasing some of my favorite Science and Sensory activities with a Candy Cane theme.  Enjoy!
1.  Candy Cane Science from A Jeweled Rose:
Growing a Jeweled Rose has this awesome Candy Cane Science Experiment.  All kids love baking soda and vinegar, but she gives it a Candy Cane Twist!  By adding red food coloring and peppermint extract to the vinegar, there is a delicious peppermint smell and a lovely red hue!  The children will be delighted to see the bubbles erupt as they drop vinegar onto the baking soda.

Candy Cane Science
Candy Cane Science from A Jeweled Rose

2.  Candy Cane Sensory Bin from Fun-A-Day
Fun-A-Day created this easy, but totally fun Sensory Bin!  She used red colored corn kernels, white Navy Beans, and peppermint extract.  And then she added extra tools, like cupcake liners, measuring cups and scoops.  Adding the colors and scent bring these fun sensory beans to a whole new level!  I can just imagine the children making their pretend cupcakes, entertainment for hours!

Beautiful-candy-cane-Christmas-activity-for-kids-to-try-this-DecemberCandy Cane Sensory Bin from Fun-A-Day

3. Candy Cane Science from Teach Preschool
Over at Teach Preschool they presented their preschoolers with the Question “What will happen to the Candy Cane if we let it sit in warm water?”  And then the used the power of observation to see what would happen!  Such a simple idea, but visual learning is the best kind for children at this age!

Candy-Cane-ScienceCandy Cane Science from Teach Preschool

4. Candy Cane Goo (oobleck) from Science Sparks
Every child needs to experiment with Oobleck at least once!  Why not make it a Candy Cane version?  Science Sparks takes the regular oobleck recipe and adds red food coloring and peppermint extract to add extra sensory elements to this already fascinating concoction.  Children will be entertained, amazed, and curious as to why this goo can be a solid one minute and a liquid the next.  And it only takes 2 ingredients (in addition to the red food coloring and peppermint extract).

DSC_0168-1024x682Candy Cane Goo (oobleck) from Science Sparks

5.  Candy Cane Paint by Bath Activities for Kids
Sensory play doesn’t always have to be messy, but it sure is great sometimes!  This “paint” recipes is sure to be a messy and fun time for children of all ages.  Obviously you won’t be using the bath at school, but you could still do finger painting, or paint brushing on large paper.  This recipe calls for shaving cream, peppermint extract and red food coloring.  If you decide to paint on paper, if you add a little bit of liquid glue it will dry just like puffy paint.  Kids of all ages would love this, and it will smell great!

Candy cane paintCandy Cane Paint by Bath Activities for Kids

Science Exploration – Pinecone Round Up

Fall is definitely upon us, whether we are ready or not.  As we were out walking the dog today I came across the biggest perfect pinecone.  Immediately I knew I had to save it and bring it to school for the Preschool classroom’s science area.  I can already see the kids with magnifying glasses in hand ready to explore.  But first, I need to find out how to remove the sap, my hands were covered!
This prompted me to search around a little for some activities we would be able to do with the preschoolers surrounding pinecones.  I know that as we delve farther into fall they will be all over the place, we can take them for walks and gather pinecones galore.  But what will we do with them?  Here is a round up of some of the activities I found that I know we will be trying.
First I hopped over to Preschool Powol Packets and checked out their article on Pinecone Experiments and Exploration.  They gathered pinecones, and other materials on a walk, and then thought of questions such as:  Will they float?  Can you close a pinecone that is open?  Will the size change?  They put them into a bowl of water to see if they could answer their questions.  What a simple way to introduce cause and effect for children!

pinecone experiment 2
Pinecone Exploration and Experiments over at Preschool Powol Packets
Next I visited Science Sparks and checked out their pinecone weather station.  After a little research they found that when it is dry pinecones open up, and when it’s going to rain they close down.  So they placed four pinecones on a visible window sill outside as a weather station.  I think that this is an awesome visual and hands on activity for children.  I know our friends would eat this up, they would be checking out the window every day!  Can’t wait to give this one a try as well.

 

pinecone-weather-station
Pinecone Weather Station from Science Sparks

Up next was Lemon Lime Adventures and their article on Why do Pinecones open up?  Their experiment used three different scenarios.  Adding a pinecone to Cold Water, Warm Water, and just air.  Once again this is an awesome visual for children to really see what is happening.  They can make predictions about what they think will happen, and then check back later to see if they were right.  Usually making hypothesis and predictions like this will lead to more questions and experimentation.  What a great way to get the learning wheels turning!

Pinecone-Experiment-for-Kids
Why do Pinecones Open? By Lemon Lime Adventures

And finally I visited Teach Preschool, one of my favorite blogs to check out their Pine Needles in a Bottle.  I think that this will make an excellent addition to our sensory bottle collection.  How easy is this?  They literally added pine needs, glitter, and water to an empty water bottle.  That’s it!  But the effect is unreal!  I love how she incorporated different sizes and shapes of water bottles to see how it changed the perspectives.  The curves of the water bottle naturally magnify the pine needles.  So simple, all free materials, this is definitely happening!

Pine-Needle-Discovery-Bottles
Pine Needle Sensory Bottles from Teach Preschool

I think I found a pretty good round up of science activities.  The best part is that they all include little to no prep time or materials.  These will be excellent follow up activities to a nature walk outside, where we can observe the changes in our environment and gather supplies.
What other science activities do you like to incorporate with your young curious minds?

Easy to make Sensory Foam!

As I continue to explore sensory ideas for the kids, I came across a fluffy looking foam.  Now my Pre-kindergartners are happy as a clam with a “car wash” or baby bath activity.  So I knew that they would love this foam.  It’s even safe and great for younger toddler age friends.

SO here is all I needed…a hand mixer, dish soap, and liquid water colors.  I’m sure that food coloring would work just as well, but if you haven’t seen Liquid Watercolors before, check them out!  I love discount school supplies brand, but I’m sure there are others out there.
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Hand mixer, dish soap, and water colors…so simple!

The fluffier you want your foam, the less water you add.  I added just a little soap to the bottom of the bowl, and added about 3 cups of water and a few drops of water color, and put the mixer on high.
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Lot’s of bubbles!
 Before long the foam starts to thicken up.  This is also a step that you could have the older kids help you with.  Turn it into a science and math project!  Make the measurements, and then predict what will happen to the liquid once you start mixing it together.
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Getting fluffier!
I did a variety of colors, and dumped them into our larger sensory bucket.  The kids loved the rainbow effect!
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Add in different tools and materials for the children to explore a variety of ways
This was ocean week, so I added some sharks and whales, and second bucket with plain water for rinsing.  We used cups, spoons, watering cans, measuring cups, funnels, and all kinds of other exploratory tools.  The kids had a blast!  It can get messy, but that’s ok!  And the best part is, this was totally free!  I had all of the necessary ingredients right in my kitchen.
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Look how foamy and fluffy this looks.  The kids couldn’t wait to get their hands on it!
If you decide to experiment with some sensory fun, let me know what your kids think!

Peakle Pie

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