Open-Ended Activities

“This means that every child is enthusiastic about beginning the task, confident in working through the task, and excited to share what they have accomplished.  Open-ending the [activities] facilitates responding to diversity.”

-Merrilee Thompson, 2010

Mud Puddle Monsters

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R was 15 months old at the time of this activity

Book: 

Mud Puddle by Robert Munsch: R listened intently as I read the “Mud Puddle” by Robert Munsch.  I absolutely LOVE Robert Munsch (a fellow Canadian!!) and all his great stories.  We even have some of his board book versions of his classics.  R’s favourite Munsch story is “The Paper Bag Princess”.  The paper back version of the Mud Puddle is quite long, so I shortened the story as I read it to her to hold her attention.

Activity:

1. Mud Monster

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R had fun patting, mixing and squishing mud using her hands and making a monster with popsicle sticks (paddle pop sticks) and large googley eyes.  She loves the texture of soil and often play in it.  I had added water to the soil to make it more of a muddy consistency.  R examined it closely when it stuck to her hands but didn’t like it being there.  She would play in the mud and then try to shake it off.

 

Extension Activities:
a. Discuss where a mud monster might be found with the child.  Have the child find the best location for a house of the mud monster and have him/her build one
b. Talk about what features make a monster a monster.  What parts are missing in our mud monster?  Have the child add other items to the mud monster to represent other monster parts.

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Whack-a-Monster

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R was 15 months old at the time of this activity

Book: 

That’s Not my Monster by Usborne Books: R loves this series of books!  They have lots of things to touch and feel inside and always have beautiful illustrations.  We also like to search for the mouse on each page.  They offer a plethora of descriptive words in each book.  These books would be great to explore with older kids who need ideas for adding descriptive words to their writing.

Activity:

1. I Spy Monster Parts

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I adapted the ziplock bag paint activity into an I spy game.  When R was about 12 months old, I had tried the ziplock bag painting activity with her and she showed very little interest in it.  So this time, along with the paint, I added water, some dish soap and plastic “monster” parts (eye balls, fingers, teeth, ears, nose, etc) to the ziplock bag to try and engage R more.  It definitely worked better this time!  R squished the paint around and would find an object.  I would them name it for her and get her to point to the equivalent part on her own body.  The game lasted less than 10 mins, but I considered it a success!

Extension Activities:
a. Reverse the game!  Ask the child to point to a part on their own body and then ask them to find the equivalent part in the bag.
b. To encourage writing with older kids, have them record a list of monster parts they found in their I Spy bag on a piece of paper. Use a clip board to hold the paper for added fun!

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Melted and Tossed Monsters

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R was 15 months old at the time of this activity

Book: 

If You’re a Monster and you Know It by Rebecca Emberley: To kick off Monster Week, we read “If You’re a Monster and You Know It”.  It’s a super fun book that you can easily add actions to.  The scholastic website has the song form of the book available for download for free.  R enjoyed listening to it off of the computer and doing the actions with me.  We listened to the recording all week and R would always stop to dance along and do the actions with me.  Her favourite part was wiggling her warts (we’d scrunch our nose up and wiggle it).

Activity:

1. Slime Monster

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R really enjoyed the texture of the slime or oobleck I made for her.  It was made with 2 parts cornstarch 1 part water plus some drops of green and blue food colouring.  The slime is hard when you press it, but will pour out of your hands. I added sticks and big googley eyes as “monster” components to R’s invitation to play.  She enjoyed digging at the slime and poking it with her finMy husband and I had a lot of fun playing along with her!

Extension Activities:
a. Use this slime recipe to discuss non-Neutonian liquids and how it demonstrates both the properties of a solid and a liquid.

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Planting Flowers and Collaging Seeds

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R was 15 months old at the time of this activity

Book: 

June 29, 1999 by David Weisner – R and I read, “June 29, 1999” together. I pointed to and named the gigantic vegetables on each page. R enjoyed flipping through the pages over and over. When I closed the book, she would say “book” and demand to have another read through. This book is a great way to inspire scientific investigation in children. I look forward to reading this book again with her when she is older and we can conduct experiments together.

Activity:

1. Crayon Resist Watercolour Painting

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I drew daffodils on watercolour paper with crayon. R practiced her brush strokes using blue and green watercolour paint. She poked at the beaded water that would sit on top of the crayon. Her favourite part of painting is dipping the brush in the paint and she does so with precision. I can really see how much R has improved on her control of the brush and coordination. The more we paint, the better her fine motor skills get!

 

 

Extension Activities:
a. Instead of the adult, have the child do the crayon step.
b. Discuss why water beads on top of crayon and it doesn’t on top of paper.

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Meeting Birds and Butterflies

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We visited the Bloedel Conservatory with my girlfriend and her daughter, J, who just turned one!!  We had used this outing as a way to enrich R’s study of plants that she had been doing during the week we had visited.  “Field Trips” are a necessary addition to all learning experiences as they provide real-life experiences for concepts taught at home or at school.  We were in the perfect location for doing exactly that.

There are tons of beautiful plants, flowers, bushes and trees in this mini tropical enclosure, plus a great variety of gorgeous parrots and other birds and butterflies.  The girls really enjoyed watching the birds and gently touching the leaves.  Usually, R is copying her older friends, so it was wonderful to watch J imitate R when she would say hi to the birds.

We only had time to visit the conservatory at the top of Queen Elizabeth Park, but the grounds of the park are just stunning.  The great thing about the grounds is that all areas are accessible by stroller, despite their being tons of staircases to ascend and descend the park.

Fairy Gardens

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R was 15 months old at the time of this activity

Book: 

I’m a Seed by Jean Marzollo – R enjoyed the book we read today and listened intently.  It is about two seeds (a marigold and pumpkin seeds) that compare their growth.  I love the illustrations in this book!

Activity:

1. Fairy Garden Sensory Play

 I had wanted to make a fairy garden outside in our actual garden, but the ground was super soggy after the rain, so I made one inside.  I combined two wooden trays with a tree stump tray.  I used soil, water and variety of mosses ground cover in the trays.  I added embellishments with gems, modelling clay mushrooms, flowers from the garden, a wooden fence and a metal bird cage.  Finally, to enhance imaginative play, I added R’s finger puppets that her auntie got for her.  R learned that not all things we play with are to be destroyed.  I used the command, “nice” to encourage her to not be destructive.  She actually listened and played quite gently with everything.  R and I counted the flowers in the water.  She splashed the water with her hands and said, “tash tash” (splash splash).  I asked her to put the puppets to sleep.  She placed two of them on the moss grass and patted them and said, “nini” (the punjabi word for sleep).  She made the wizard and unicorn hop around while saying, “hop hop hop”.  She loved putting gems and the puppets into the bird cage and saying, “cha-thi” (punjabi word for peek-a-boo).  All together, there was a lot of language skills development and imaginative play going on!

Extension Activities:
a. With older children, discuss what s/he thinks belongs in a fairy garden.
b. Have him/her make their own fairy garden adding items s/he thinks are necessary.

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