Make Believe - Penguin Small World Play
This week we are studying penguins. I think this has been my favorite unit so far. I have learned facts about emperor penguins that I did not know before. Sensory bins provide a way for children to bring play to life and explore lands they would not otherwise visit. In addition to imaginative play, sensory bins provide the opportunity to discuss facts and reinforce information learned through conversation that flows rather than through a list of facts.
To make this penguin sensory bin I froze water overnight in containers of varying sizes, shapes and depths. I emptied the frozen shapes into a bin. I set the bin on top of a towel on top of a shower curtain from Dollar Tree to catch any water overflow. Peanut (18 months) immediately made his way to the bin after breakfast. He was fascinated by the ice.
While he explored the ice I added a small amount of water to the container. I didn't want the ice to melt too fast, so I kept the water level fairly low.
I set out penguins from a Safari Ltd. Toob, and the rest of my boys came running over to see the sensory bin. We talked about icebergs, Antarctica, Emperor penguins and how penguins feed their babies. JZ (5) loved making the penguins slide across the icebergs and dive into the water. He also got a kick out of having the mommy and daddy penguins feed their babies.
After they played for a bit I squirted shaving cream around some of the ice to represent snow.
Throughout the play I asked probing questions to see how much information JZ retained from what we learned earlier in the week. He remembered most of the details, and told me all about how daddy penguins protect the eggs and keep them warm. He couldn't believe that they go without food for two months while caring for an egg.
Tank and Peanut lost interest before too long, but JZ and J-Bug (3) played for over an hour. They only stopped when they were too cold to continue. Throughout their play they occasional ran their hands under warm water in the kitchen sink. Another thing we learned about Emperor penguins is how they create a circle to keep each other warm. The penguins take turns standing on the outside of the circle to shield the others from the cold.
We read Tacky the Penguin a few times throughout the unit, and JZ enjoyed acting out the story with his little penguins.
More small world play: