Shells And Mirrors On The Discovery Table

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Shells And Mirrors On The Discovery Table. Independedent activity to encourage quiet exploration and loose parts play with natural materials. Fun for a beach or ocean theme for preschoolers or kindergarten, incorporating math, science, and art!

I've been planning a new element of our homeschool for several months.  My girls are really great at playing together, they have great imaginations, and they're very bright.  But they both can have trouble settling into quiet and thoughtful exploration.  To help nudge them in that direction, I've planned a series of activities and explorations for them to spend time with during the mid-afternoon.  After a full morning of homeschooling, I'm usually busy with household chores or blogging.  If left to their own devices they are inclined to make a giant mess or start squabbling, so these Discovery Table activities are designed to help fill the time!

My plan is to set our simple invitations to explore or create, once or twice a week.  The activities will need little or no help from me (beyond initial set up and explanation), and will be age appropriate for both of my daughters who are currently 4 & 6.  They're designed to encourage children to slow down and enjoy the little things!

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Shells And Mirrors On The Discovery Table. Independedent activity to encourage quiet exploration and loose parts play with natural materials. Fun for a beach or ocean theme for preschoolers or kindergarten, incorporating math, science, and art!

For this first Discovery Table activity, I made this simple tray set up with a basket of shells, a mirror, and some suggestion cards to get their creative juices flowing.  I'm hopeful that after a few activities like this, they won't need any suggestions.  But I knew that they'd be helpful as we got started.

Our cards said:
  • Can you make a pattern?
  • Can you make a spiral?
  • Can you make letters?
  • Can you use ALL the pieces?
  • Can you make a face?
  • Can you do some math?
  • Can you make the pieces high?
  • What else can you do?

Shells And Mirrors On The Discovery Table. Independedent activity to encourage quiet exploration and loose parts play with natural materials. Fun for a beach or ocean theme for preschoolers or kindergarten, incorporating math, science, and art!

Most of our shells were just from a bag purchased at the craft store, but there were a few from our own collections mixed in.  It's helpful to have a variety of sizes, shapes, and colors.

Shells And Mirrors On The Discovery Table. Independedent activity to encourage quiet exploration and loose parts play with natural materials. Fun for a beach or ocean theme for preschoolers or kindergarten, incorporating math, science, and art!

Next, I simply invited the girls to come and explore the tray.  They quickly moved the tray from the table to the floor -- maybe I should call this series the "Discovery Floor" instead!  Lena immediately wanted to make a pattern.

Shells And Mirrors On The Discovery Table. Independedent activity to encourage quiet exploration and loose parts play with natural materials. Fun for a beach or ocean theme for preschoolers or kindergarten, incorporating math, science, and art!

And of course we had to dump them all out to see the choices!

Shells And Mirrors On The Discovery Table. Independedent activity to encourage quiet exploration and loose parts play with natural materials. Fun for a beach or ocean theme for preschoolers or kindergarten, incorporating math, science, and art!


Next she worked on a spiral.

Shells And Mirrors On The Discovery Table. Independedent activity to encourage quiet exploration and loose parts play with natural materials. Fun for a beach or ocean theme for preschoolers or kindergarten, incorporating math, science, and art!

So lovely!

Shells And Mirrors On The Discovery Table. Independedent activity to encourage quiet exploration and loose parts play with natural materials. Fun for a beach or ocean theme for preschoolers or kindergarten, incorporating math, science, and art!

Lena continued exploring with the shells and mirror for quite a while.  She looked through the inspiration cards and chose ones that interested her.  She created on her own. She sorted and counted.

Shells And Mirrors On The Discovery Table. Independedent activity to encourage quiet exploration and loose parts play with natural materials. Fun for a beach or ocean theme for preschoolers or kindergarten, incorporating math, science, and art!

With one Discovery Table activity under our belts, I'm encouraged to continue.  We left the shells and mirror our for several days and the girls returned to them over and over again to explore!

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Shells And Mirrors On The Discovery Table. Independedent activity to encourage quiet exploration and loose parts play with natural materials. Fun for a beach or ocean theme for preschoolers or kindergarten, incorporating math, science, and art!

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Shells And Mirrors On The Discovery Table. Independedent activity to encourage quiet exploration and loose parts play with natural materials. Fun for a beach or ocean theme for preschoolers or kindergarten, incorporating math, science, and art!
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