Open-Ended Props in the Snow

5 February 2013 · 3 comments

in Early Years Outdoors, Play Resources, Technologies, Urban

At 11pm on Thursday night I suddenly realised that I had the rare opportunity of working in the snow with my classes. For some reason I’d been expecting the snow to melt so hadn’t really got thinking about the possibilities that were open to me. Immediately I shoved a few containers of coloured water into my freezer for an overnight freeze.

I gathered together an assortment of props. One of the things I always try and do, is let children have a look at and play with some of the resources prior to going outside. It lets the children know what to expect. They can ask questions. It can be a hook for gaining their interest. Very often the children themselves will choose from a range of resources and help carry them outside. However on Friday, I set out most of the stuff in the outdoor space instead as I wanted to use an area which had been a wee bit “play dead” for a few weeks.

One of the best resources for coloured water is a syringe (not the sort with a needle attached, I hasten to add). Even little hands can pull the water into the syringe and love squirting it out again.

I wanted children to be able to explore ice melting and slush. It’s not often that slushy opportunities arise. So the mixing bowls were useful for this.

One child also spotted the box of washing props and with great delight and enthusiasm decided to wipe down the windows.

The snow kitchen was quickly changed into a car washing facility. What was lovely was how another child watched and joined in. Recently this child has started to play alongside one or two other children which is a big step for various reasons.

After that the kitchen element really got going. The children in the photo below decided to serve up breakfast. Fried ice anyone?

Normally the water can is attached to the fence at the water wall. I fastened it to the bench with some velcro as the children just have to knock over anything which can be knocked over. This worked and many children were really interested in the on/off flow and filling different containers and carefully placing them in different parts of the playground.

Scraping appealed to one child. He kindly cleared the bench of frozen ice and put it into the bowl below as more playable slush!

It makes a lovely sound and feel when stirred hard.

Carrying around the bowls of slush was also a task which both the children below wanted to do. I’m not sure why – whether it was the pride of their creation, or the ability to carry something heavy but it was important to them. What was interesting was how carefully they did this. There was no need to tell either child to go slowly.

The session was good to observe, in that it was a classic illustration of how providing a few small open-ended props led to a variety of different play based upon each child’s interests. This is helpful too, in that the children and I can now plan further open-ended activities based upon those interests which will hopefully engage the children.

Finally, this snow session used some pretty basic props. For a lovely post linking snow and tubes, please hop over to Tom Sensori’s blog post and this will really fire your imagination!

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Kierna C February 5, 2013 at 18:07

I recognise those bowls – I got some too!! I love how much progress you are seeing with these children as you work with them over a matter of weeks. I’m afraid our snow is always gone in a matter of hours so we just make the most of enjpying it as it is. Kierna


Juliet Robertson February 5, 2013 at 18:13

The nice thing is that this is my second year with this class and the different compared to last year is incredible. These children seem very grown-up now!


Tom Bedard February 5, 2013 at 19:50

Thanks for the shout-out. It is snowing in Minnesota, so I hope to setup some snow coloring next week inside at my sensory table. I have used brushes before, but the syringes are a good idea. I will have to rustle up a few.


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