Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Saint Patrick's Day Magnetic Fun Resources

If you're an early childhood educator you're always on the hunt for new center ideas and games.  A magnetic center might be one of your mainstays.  Or perhaps you're currently working on building up your stockpile of magnetic resources so that you have enough to switch them out every week or so.  If that's the case, you probably have magnetic ideas floating around in your head whenever you're teacher-shopping!  I was visiting one of my favorite teacher stores (It's the Dollar Tree.) and came across the cutest little leprechauns and Saint Patrick's Day items on magnetic sheets.  I found three varieties and couldn't resist purchasing them all.  I'm excited to tell you about them and share a few tips along with pre-k activities for using them.  Here's what they look like: 


There's a downside and upside.  

DOWNSIDE - It looks like they're online store is out of stock.  

UPSIDE - They might still be in stock at your local Dollar Tree 
store.  If not, there's always a SPRING THEMED SET to look forward to! 

I think the packages said something about being "Refrigerator Magnets".  And if you're using them at home they'll work on your refrigerator.  But they can be use for more than just kitchen decorations!  They can be transformed into learning opportunities.  Here are a few tips that will maximize their value.

Tip # 1:  Keep the magnets at the child's eye level instead of at an adult's eye level.  This way, the child can manipulate the pieces easily and see what the leprechaun looks like when assembled.  

The fridge isn't the only location where they can be used.  If you have a steel front door, they'll work on the inside (or outside) of the door.  They'll also work on your washer and dryer.  Make sure to remove them when the appliances are in operation so that your child doesn't use the magnets at that time!

Did you know that some cookie sheets are non-magneticGenerally, stainless steel is non-magneticAnother way children can manipulate and assemble the leprechaun pieces is with a magnetic cookie tray.  A simple way you can make sure to purchase a magnetic cookie tray is to take a small magnet with you to the store.  That way, you can test it out yourself!  Or, use one of the magnets that is for sale in the store to test the tray.   

Tip # 2Use a large cookie tray to accommodate for children with minimal spatial planning abilitiesDid you know that young children often have limited spatial planning abilitiesThe cookie tray in the photo shown above is too small for a child that lacks spatial planning.  This means the child will struggle to fit the pieces within the cookie tray.  I recommend using a cookie tray that is about 11 inches by 17 inches or one that is slightly larger.

Tip # 3Give children a visual model to refer to (of the completed leprechaun) when they assemble the parts togetherI was happy that a paper image was included in the packaging materials.  I cut them out around the refrigerator outlines as seen in the photo above.

Tip # 4Remove the pieces from the magnetic sheets carefully!  The cut-outs are perforated but they'll tear if you pull them apart too vigorouslyUse your scissors for pieces that don't come apart easily. 

Tip # 5Keep your varied sets organized.  If you have several sets of similar or identical magnetic pieces, labeling the backs will help keep the sets organized.  Label the backs of each piece with a white  permanent marker(The magnets are black so a white marker will be more visible than a black marker).  Start with the uppercase alphabet . . . the first set is "A", second set is "B", and so forth.  Once you've acquired 26 sets, start set number 27 with the lowercase "a".  Once you've exhausted all the letters of the alphabet, label with numeric sets.   
The magnetic leprechaun center activity fosters the concept of "parts to whole" and also develops fine motor and eye-hand coordinationUse them on large cookie trays or a wall mounted magnetic board.  Here are a few more places they could be positioned:
1.  Side of teacher's desk.
2.  Doors on hallway student lockers.
3.  Side of file cabinet.
4.  Classroom door (if it's magnetic)
5.  Metal bookshelf.  
If you'd like, READ MORE to learn about activities that can be done with pre-k and children with special needs with the leprechaun pieces.
These activities can be done with the Dollar Tree magnetic sheets for the leprechaun pieces.  They can also be modified and used with any other similar type of decorative magnetic sheets.  Eliminate the loose shamrocks from the pieces to make these activities simple for young children.

Small Group Activities (4 to 6 children)

1 Build A Leprechaun
(materials needed - cookie tray, magnetic leprechaun pieces)  Show the children the completed leprechaun on a large cookie tray.  Describe each piece while in the children's view.  Give each child one piece of the leprechaun.  Tell the children to listen for their piece to add it to the cookie tray.  Call out each piece . . . "Who has the leprechaun's hat?"  "Who has the leprechaun's arm with the shamrock?"  "Who has the leprechaun's face?"  Etc. . .  
Pieces are added to the tray to "build" the leprechaun.
2.  What's Missing?   
(materials needed - cookie tray, magnetic leprechaun pieces)  Show the children the completed leprechaun on a large cookie tray.  Give the children a few minutes to view the leprechaun.  Turn the tray toward you and remove a piece such as an arm, leg, face, hat or torso.  Discreetly hide the piece in your hand.  Turn the tray so that the leprechaun is facing the children again.  Once you've done this you can slip the "missing" piece on the back of the magnetic tray.  Ask a child to name the missing piece.  Encourage children to use descriptive phrases such as, "The arm that is holding the horseshoe is the missing piece."  Once the child has named the missing piece, reveal it!  
3.  Mixed Up Leprechaun
(materials needed - cookie tray, magnetic leprechaun pieces)
Show the children the completed leprechaun on a large cookie tray.  Turn the tray toward you and switch two pieces so they are in the wrong position.  One example is to switch an arm and a leg.  Another switch could be the hat and the face.  Show the children the "mixed up leprechaun" and discuss what needs to be done to put him back together.
4Count the Hidden Gold   
(materials needed - cookie tray, magnetic leprechaun pieces, tape, paper squares)
Tape the paper squares (get them at the end of this post) on the backs of the leprechaun pieces.  Use different number combinations such as two squares taped to the back of the face and four squares taped to the back of the torso.  (Minimize the tape portions to maintain the magnet's strength.)  Show the children the leprechaun on the cookie tray.  Remove a piece of the leprechaun such as the hat.  Count the number of "gold coins" that were hidden on the back side of the hat.  Replace the hat.  Repeat for each part of the leprechaun counting the groups of squares (gold coins) that were behind each part.  Variation:  Use one "gold coin" and position it behind one of the parts of the leprechaun.  Children take turns guessing the location of the missing "gold coin".  Reveal its location once all students have had a chance to share their idea about where the "gold" is hidden.

5.  Upside Down-Right Side Up
(materials needed - cookie tray, magnetic leprechaun pieces, cups, figurines or stuffed animals)
Give each child a cup.  (Use disposable cups or plastic cups.) Show the children the completed leprechaun on a large cookie tray.  Tell children the leprechaun is "right side up".  Have children show you their cups in the "right side up" position.  Turn the cookie tray over so that the leprechaun appears "upside down".  Have children show you their cups (or figurines) in the upside down position.  Repeat a few times.  Then extend the activity by turning the tray on one side.  Have children imitate with their cups or figurines.  Then turn the tray on the opposite side and have children duplicate the position with their cups or figurines.
6.  Hide the Leprechaun
(materials needed:  cookie tray, magnetic leprechaun pieces, bowl of green, white, and orange cubes or other small objects of the same colors)
Pass a bowl of cubes around the group and allow each child to take a handful of cubes.  Then go around the circle with the tray with the magnetic leprechaun and allow each child to toss his/her cubes onto the tray.  Repeat until the leprechaun is completely covered with the colors of the national flag of Ireland.  Thus, the leprechaun is "hidden".

7.  Showering Shamrocks or Raining Gold
(materials needed - cookie tray, magnetic leprechaun pieces, green or yellow washable paint) 
Dab green paint on one index finger of each child.  Have the children "shower" the leprechaun and the cookie tray with dabs of green paint for a "shamrock shower".  Use yellow paint instead of green paint to make it "raining gold" on the leprechaun and the cookie tray.  Wipe off with a clean damp cloth or paper towels. 

If you need gold coins for activity number four, click either of the images shown below:

If you'd like a free "Build A Teddy" template for making one of your own magnetic sets, check out this resourceBuild A Teddy 

That's it for now!


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