Sep 30, 2012

Fine Motor Pumpkin Activity: Hammering Nails

Mastering fine motor skills as well as hand eye coordination is an integral component of every child's development. Therefore, when creating an environment that meets the needs of the whole child, providing opportunities for young children to use their fingers in fine motor movement is essential. Most early childhood curriculums will include many fine motor activities such as beading, lego, and coloring. The following article provides some different ideas for providing opportunities for children to master their skills with the use of some pumpkins.

Pumpkin Activity: Hammering Nails

Hammering nails into a pumpkin is an attractive activity for children of all ages. For preschool ages, the skin of the pumpkin provides enough strength to hold the nail, yet soft enough for the hammering to be easy for the little hands holding the hammer. This activity works well at a table set for two with one child on either side of the table. But, it can also be enjoyed in any household environment as the photo displayed illustrates.

The material required :
large pumpkin
large amount of small nails
two small hammers: metal OR plastic hammers
spoon or butter knife (to remove the nails)
plastic safety goggles(optional)

Once the items have been collected, a beneficial way of starting this fun activity is to demonstrate to the young children how the hammering will occur and discuss ways of being safe. For instance, the adult should show the child how to gently nail towards the pumpkin without flinging the hammer way into the air. One tactic would be to ask the children how to be safe with hammering. Many children will be eager to tell others what they may have already learnt about using a hammer. In a preschool or daycare setting, this activity may be providing young children their first opportunity to use a real hammer and real nails. In an early childhood environment, guidelines or "rules" should be thought through and established before the event.

Alternative Ideas for Pumpkin Hammering with Preschoolers

There are different ways to set up this activity for young children:
  • Draw a face on the pumpkin before hand for children to follow
  • Leave the nails in the pumpkin, and then take out the insides of the pumpkin and put in a candle
  • Use string tied to selected hammer to create a fun design on pumpkin
  • Use golf tees instead of nails

  • Pumpkins provide fun activities for preschoolers beyond the traditional carving into a Jack o Lantern for Halloween. Hammering nails into pumpkins will definitely be enjoyed by children of all ages!

    Sep 19, 2012

    Science Experiments for Preschool

    Even if you are not science savvy, these ideas are simple hands-on experiments to set up for preschool children (and even toddlers). To expand on each activity, the children can provide a prediction or hypothesis of what will happen, and then after the procedure is completed, the results can be noted.

    The Volcano:

    This is an experiment which can be done individually or as a group.

    Material needed:

    Baking Soda
    Food Coloring
    Popcorn kernels (optional)
    Container with spout
    Short glass container

    The child will scoop a heaping tablespoon of baking soda into a glass container. A short glass or jar, such as a baby food jar, will be conducive to effective overflow. Once the baking soda is in, then in another container with a spout, will hold vinegar and a few drops of food coloring. This a great time to ask the children what they predict will happen. The final step is to allow the child to pour the vinegar mixture into the baking soda. The ingredients will mix together and cause an explosion that will bubble up and out of the container. When the bubbles are gone, the mixture must be emptied before beginning again. Try different shaped vessels for this experiment and adding some popcorn kernels. The kernels will dance inside the mixture, up and down for quite some time.

    Making Goop:

    This sensory, hands-on experiment involves only three ingredients.

    Material needed:

    Food coloring

    With this experiment, use a big bowl, or pot for the goop and have another pot of soapy water and a towel nearby for clean up. Alternatively, a sensory table is a great place for goop. Put the cornstarch into a big bowl. First, choose the color by adding a few drops of food coloring to a measuring cup full of water. The key for this mixture is to add the water slowly. If too much water is poured in, there is no turning back until the mixture evaporates over time. When the right amount of water is mixed with cornstarch, the texture will be hard on the bottom, with just a bit of moisture resting on top. When the mixture gets picked up, it will start to run down the fingers: a great goop mess. The goop is easily cleaned. The mixture dries and the corn starch is left and washes off clothes without any hassles. This goop mixture can be left on a shelf and brought back out at a later time. If it hardens, the children can have fun breaking it into little pieces, and then add more water to start enjoying all over again.

    Sink or Float

    A classic game that does not lose its appeal. Fill the sink or water table with water and allow the children to find safe things that can get wet, or have a number of items chosen. Have a guessing game on whether the item will sink or float ( an apple is always a great choice). To extend this science experiment, find out why things sink or float as well as charting the results into a graph.


    Magnet Fun

    Placing out magnets with material to attract, or not, is a fun and safe preschool science set up. Children can explore which items are attracted to magnets and which material are not. They can experiment with placing opposing poles of magnets towards each other and feel the resistence. A great deal of questions, predictions and recordings can be made with magnets. In addition, there are many extended activities with magnets, such as fishing wands and fish, magnet puzzles