Saturday, November 23, 2013

Discovery Jars

Discovering our Discovery Jars!

This would be another one of those things I have been SUPER, super excited about getting together. It's the kind of excitement where you can't stop thinking about it until the project is complete then want to sit and stare at it for HOURS and hours once it is. I have to admit I've been drooling over the Discovery Bottles I've seen all over the web. I first saw them on one of my favorite blogs, Fun at Home with Kids and immediately fell in love. You can check out her post here, Discovery Bottles. They not only provide for hours of fun but are incredibly beautiful too!  I've been trying reeeaally hard to be patient until I could collect or find the right "bottles" to make it work for us. I started saving our plastic peanut butter jars but even with the kiddos' intense love for peanut butter only sandwiches, it was taking much longer than I anticipated. 

I didn't initially envision having jars/canisters this size but they couldn't be more perfect for our family.  I found these beauties at the Dollar Tree and that, of course, makes them even more perfect! Because I hesitated on the size, I regretfully only bought two at first then was left searching Dollar Tree Stores for DAYS looking for more!! I was on a desperate mission to bring the vision to pass.  When I finally found them I sent hubby to get enough to complete my set and maybe just a few more. ;) 

In a very perfect world I'd love to say we took the time to find each item for the jars together but given the ages of my lil ones and time management, it just wasn't fesable. It would have taken days, weeks, MONTHS, maybe even an entire year to complete our set that way! Haha! It was easier for me to do the hunting for the items alone. I did however, really want the kids to have a sense of ownership and pride in our Discovery Jars.  I didn't want them to miss out on all the fun of discovering the objects so placing everything in a bin for us to sort into the jars together worked perfectly! And of course, anytime they find an additional item that we can add, we most definitely do! :) 

I love the fact that we call these our "Discovery Jars".  Every single time we play with them we discover a new way to explore the items as learning takes place and THAT could not possibly make this Momma's heart any happier. One of the reasons I love having jars this size is because the items inside are large enough for us to take out on a regular basis and explore. I even tried to stay away from including super tiny items that our littlest wouldn't be able to resist putting in his mouth just so he could play with us!  The jars sit on a beautiful bookshelf that we were blessed with (thanks to my awesome Father God for always knowing the desires of my heart).  I keep a good size bin in that bookshelf so as the kiddos desire they can take down a jar or two or ALL of them, as my two year old prefers, and play, play, play! Here's some of the fun we've had while discovering our Discovering Jars. 

Open-ended play! 

This will never get old! I hope and pray that my little ones never cease to use their imagination and creativity while playing. Between all that's in these jars they should never run out of silly things to create, roll play, or just stacking jars (castles) before they come tumbling down.

Number Identification and 1:1 Counting

The kids discovered a die while playing with the contents in our green jar and we suddenly found ourselves playing a game! The jar's lid was the perfect size to both roll the die in and contain it's roll. We all took turns rolling, identify the numeral and choosing that number of objects from the bin. Wow was this a surprisingly fun, easy, and exciting game!!  They were very patient with each other while taking turns and were excited about choosing their own objects. You could easily play until you've emptied the items from the bin or if you'd like to make it competitive, you could establish a "winner" based on the most/least items retrieved. You could also pull out a few ice trays or egg cartons to have them place their collected items in. First to fill up all of their spots is the winner! Whoo-hoo so much FUN! I admit at first I hesitated placing ALL of our cute colored dice in the Discovery Jars. I didn't want them to be removed form their "very special" labeled place on the "very special" shelf. Well, all of that quickly went out the window and I grabbed every color die I could find to place in the remaining jars. Every time we pull out a jar to play with I can only hope we'll get the chance to play this game again! There is no time like NOW. Learning was taking place and that is far more important than anything "looking nice" on a shelf.

Memory Games!

My hubby and I love any opportunity we have to play memory games with the kids. Beside the fact that they are FUN, they are also sooo so good for their little brains!  I was always really intrigued by the memory lessons in my Developmental Psychology class. I have to admit though, I was never very good at the exercises. I tried REALLY hard but always disappointed myself with how few I could remember. It excites me to begin memory training really early with the kids by playing games like these. We started nice and easy with strategically placing just a few objects neatly in the bin. We took turns closing our eyes and whoever was "it" removed one object to hide behind their back. We'd open our eyes, took a look at the items and tried  to remember which one was missing. My two year old didn't quite understand the concept of this game. He was so funny when it was his turn to be "it". As soon as we were ready to guess what item was removed he'd yell out the answer. Oh! We really enjoyed that! We chuckled and chuckled and chuckled! He is seriously too cute! 

Exploring with sense of touch

I give my two year old all the credit for engaging us in this activity. He started stuffing a ball into a sock that was suppose to be on his foot, haha! (It was pretty clean, no worries ;)) A little light bulb went off in my head and we took off with his idea. Again here, we took turns choosing an object while everyone else closed their eyes then placed it into the sock (no pEEking!). It was then everyone else's job to hold the sock, feel around and try to guess what object was within. We were having WAY too much fun for us to stop so I could try to find a more appropriate "bag", Oh No, there was none more appropriate than my son's precious sock at that very moment. <3 For the record we have played this game since then and did use a larger cloth bag with a drawstring top. This gave us the chance to place our hand in the bag and feel around while guessing. It provided for a completely different sensory experience. We loved it! I should mention that it is easier for little ones to cheat using a bag, haha! I will never forget my sweet princess's face.  She tried soooo hard to keep her eyes from peeking into that bag as she slid her hand in. Oh goodness! I do have to say she gets it honestly...It's soooo hard not to peek!

Reading, Identifying and Classifying   

I have really been longing for a way to incorporate literacy into our Discovery Jar play time. I started by using a white board and writing the label of an item in the bin. My daughter would then do her best to sound out the word and find it.  Yay, it was a success!
I was then inspired to create this for her to access whenever she desired. I used little cut up pieces of construction paper and wrote labels of many (not all) items in each jar. I hot glued a magnet to the lid, used a metal clip to hold the labels and secured them right to the magnet! Oh how I felt like Tinker Bell at that moment tinkering with lost things to create something truly wonderful! I also tried to prepare for the inevitable lid mix-up when my two year old dumps multiple jars out to play with at once by writing the color name on the back of each card. This has been VERY helpful!
Ahhahah I just love all the learning that's going on with these jars!!!

The magnet on the lid also serves for another incredible purpose as we can use it to help us classify objects as magnetic or non-magnetic! Magnets are ALWAYS so much fun to play with! Here's my sweet princess showing me that the small washer on the sea turtle is magnetic.

Sorting and Classifying Objects! 

WOW to the endless possibilities for sorting and classifying with these items! The picture above shows just a few groups we came up with. I'm SO excited that we can continue to classify based on attributes like: 
  • Texture
  • Color
  • Size 
  • Weight
  • Shape (3-D)
  • Phonics
  • Magnetic and Non-Magnetic

Beginning and/or Ending Sounds

For this activity we worked together on isolating beginning sounds and placed them on the carpet where they belonged. We quickly noticed many letters had no friends and few letters had many.  What a great way to get some mathematics vocabulary in by asking which letter has the most, fewest, more than, less than, equal to and so on. Oh geese I get so excited about learning!  We laughed about the fact that the majority of the items in the jar began with the letter B! 

I'm so very sorry for how long this post has been! I've been so excited about finishing it and sharing it with you in hopes that you'll find some use for them as well. We'd love for you to leave us a comment with more ideas of fun ways to play! 

1 comment:

  1. This is a great activity with so many different ways to learn. I am going to have to create some discovery jars for the boys.