Friday, January 21, 2011

Not Your Average Lunch Tray

Last night my friend, sidekick, coworker facilitated a workshop on Totally Terrific Trays based on all learning domains. She has been gathering and gathering supplies to make any one's tray totally terrific play! Keeping preschoolers interested and focused is a task for all of us, but making learning fun, interesting and fantastic will spark interest, curiosity, and inventiveness like nobody business!

Trays are wonderful because they not only allow for play, but they also teach self control, spacial awareness, and you can cover as many standards as your heart desire.

Organization is key and in the following photos, you will see just how simple it is to organize materials that makes tray play a sensation!

Setting these trays up for play takes skill, organization, and pre-planning. Don't think on Monday you're going pull materials and set these up. Tray play should be well planned and pre-planned, if possible weeks in advance. For those teachable moments where the children have inspired you, and there will be many, plan to gather the materials as quick as possible and then set those trays up as soon as possible to ensure you do not lose that moment of learning that has peeked their curiosity.

As Janie says, you are the facilitator and the children are the participates. Give them directions for the play, but do not show them what to do. Allow their imagination and approaches to learning rule the tray. They may find even more ways to play in their tray and they could be even better than your ideas! Children are curious by nature and some of the ways that they come up with play is awesome. That's the power of learning.

In these next photos you are going to see some play at work by big people.
Here she is matching the alphabet pasta with the card. Notice the spoons? Twelve for $1 at the Dollar Tree! Too cute.

Leaving the grid blank allows for creativity. They can also use markers to write on the laminated material incorporating writing skills into this math activity. Use a magic eraser to remove marker from laminated material; it's magic plus it promotes independence by the children.

Fine motor is so important for early childhood and using tongs and tweezers is a great way to develop those skills.

Leaf Man is one of our favorite books. The kids go crazy over this book! Find books that you can build units upon, take field trips with, and go beyond imagination with.

Magnetic letters and cookie sheets are essential in a preschool classroom. Cheap, but fully effective.

You can see just how easy it is to set tray play up in your classroom. Stay organized, be open to learning yourself, allow the children to navigate the trays and you will find yourself and your children open to so many possibilities.

Here's a thought...the week before ask your children what type of tray play they would like to have the following week. Chart their responses and get to work on THEIR ideas. Don't forget to recycle, recycle, recycle because as you can see you will need lots of storage. Don't throw away anything that can hold a pom-pom!

Thanks Janie for a wonderful night of learning, as always awesome job.