Tuesday, September 6, 2011


Here's a quick and simple plop that involved waaay more learning and creativity then I ever could have planned.  The goal? To stay cool during a super hot, humid South Dakota summer day.  The results?  A plethora of learning and blossoming creativity!

Supplies needed? 
Ice.  The biggest bag (or 2) of ice you can buy.
A large bucket (optional really...it would be fun to just dump it on the ground too)
An open mind (to listen to what other supplies the children deem necessary for exploring a mound of ice)

Take note: the kind of ice just might matter.  I was fortunate enough to have bought a bag of ice that had a perfect hole in the middle of each piece.  Why does this seemingly small detail matter?  Read on....

After a bit of exploring in the ice, and laughing at the fact that the ice stuck to their fingers (personally, the sensation of ice stuck on my fingers makes my skin crawl...but apparently, I am wierd). They then had fun just holding it in their hands and watching the ice turn to water.  They also had fun holding the ice with their shirts and watching the set spot grow.  All things that I anticipated would happen.  What happened next was most impressive.

Ella left the ice for a moment only to return with a blade of grass from my landscaping.  The long, ornamental grass.  Hmmmmm......what on earth....?

GENIUS!  I would have never in a million years thought of stringing ice on blades of grass!  I LOVE how resourceful Ella was!  She loved the results of a beautiful ice necklace, and the fact that everyone liked her idea enough to want to try it too!  There was learning going on here above anything I could have planned:

1) Trial and error. I encouraged the children to please pick up grass that was already on the ground, leave the standing up grass to continue to grow.  Well...the stuff on the ground was sometimes dry, and therefore brittle.  So a new word was introduced to their vocabularies, and patience was tried as they continued to try blade after blade before succeeding! 

2) Weight.  They had fun creating necklaces that would both hold, and that would break.  There was something awesome about the falling and shattering chunks of ice!

3) Math.  They would challenge each other to try to find a blade of grass that would hold THREE ice cubes...then FOUR...etc.

This winter we had used hammers inside to break frozen balloons full of treasure.  So the obvious thing to want to do to these chunks of ice was...hammer them!!

I know what you are thinking.....OH!  THEIR BARE TOES AND HAMMERS!  But you know what?
Kids are smart if we just give them a chance to think!  They handled the hammer safety all on their own!
The conversation as the hammering began ranged from "OO's and Ah's" to
"Don't hammer your toes!  They aren't ice!"  to " Hey!  Don't hammer my toes either"
There was a total of three hammers, every single child hammered ice or
shaving cream or a combo at one time or another. The total
injuries to toes was......wait for it.......ZERO!

Among all the learning going on by simply hammering ice, my favorite is eye-hand coordination!  Both to make sure they
miss the toes AND hit the ice!

The other station that was out on this hot summer morning was shaving cream!  Eventually the two stations joined together:

What do you get when you hammer ice and shaving cream?  Ice cream of course!
We got the ice cream scoops and bowls out as well...but, sadly, a parent dropped off and we got
busy chatting, and the camera hung around my neck....I missed the ice cream part!

Another successful morning of learning and exploring. A morning of self-esteems soaring and turns being taken.  All because of plopping ice and stepping back.  I gave no direction, just simply emptied the ice into the bucket, grabbed the camera and opened my mind to their ideas!