Thursday, January 3, 2013

Picture and Object Sets for Early Learning

Over the years I've had my own and other children asking me if they could see more pictures of sea slugs or kinds of houses, volcanoes or octopus - you name it, they really want a chance to see more pictures of things (especially things they don't get to see very often).  Just two weeks ago I had a child ask me if I could make a set of more pictures of sea horses for our classroom.  Other children chimed in that they would like it too, especially of daddy seahorses with babies being born.  So, I of course wanted to make them.  We had just finished reading a great book called Seahorses that showed a father seahorse with the babies popping out of his pouch.

I tend to put these picture sets out in a basket with some items, if possible, on the subject that they can explore as well.  I print, cut out and laminate the cards and then put them on a large ring.  After that I put them in the basket with the other items and set them out on the shelf to explore.  I find that this is a great way to ignite the curiosity of the youngest children that do not have reading skills.  They begin to wonder all about things that they never knew existed before.  Not only this, but a sense of awe and wonder begins to develop about the beauty of our earth.  Many times a little child will bring me the Globe of the World Parts (also called the Continents Globe), and ask me where these "things" are on the earth, and then we get to have a child initiated conversation about Great And Important Things.

This first set that I am showing you is called: Shells, Starfish and Sand Dollars.  It is the first set I  put out in the year.  This basket has a HUGE sand dollar (about 5 inches across) I found at a thrift shop, a nice sized starfish and a large hermit crab figurine along with a magnifying glass for exploration.  It also has the Photo Set which has several pictures each of shells, starfish and sand dollars.
Shells, Starfish and Sand Dollars Photo Card Set
click on photo to link to file

What frequently happens with new children in the beginning is they are just interested in the objects in the basket, but after they have worked with them a few times they will begin to look through the photos.  After a short time, a child will look at a photo and begin to make comparisons with the physical object.  I just feel tickled the first time I see them using the magnifying glass and to look at the object and then turning to a picture and using the magnifying glass to look closely at a photo card.

This is one of those baskets at the beginning of the year where the children come away feeling calmer, refreshed and happier after using.  I think it is also one of my favorite tools to begin to instill care of the items on the shelves and in the classroom.  They are really awed by the size of the sand dollar and yet, it IS breakable as well as the starfish.  When presenting to a child, I speak about these beautiful and incredible gifts that I have brought to the classroom for them.  I also speak about how these are the outsides of an animal that used to be alive.  I ask them if they would like to take VERY special care of this sand dollar and all the other things in this basket?  This sets them off in the right direction to care for them correctly.

Shells, Starfish and Sand Dollars Basket with Photo Cards
I am excited to unveil future sets for the enjoyment and learning of the little people in your lives.