Problem Solving Around the Room
Blocks: Whatever themes ar units are occurring, observe the play for what it reveals about what children are thinking and see how you might facilitate or extend it. For example, if children are building to another without going outdoors?" If a construction site is underway, you might ask: "Where will the workers park their cars?" "How will they get to the top of the building?"
Art: Hold up primary colors and say "I have only three colors, how can I get some more?" Read Leo Lionni's Swimmy* (Scholastic Inc.; $3.99) and ask for ideas on how Lionni made the lacey designs (have doilies on hand). During a stenciling activity, ask, "Are there any other ways to make stencils?" After making handprints, send children outside to gather "print-makers" such as pinecones, leaves, and stones.
Science: Examine items that children bring in and ask what one might do with such an object or where one might find others like it, Encourage children to work with basic science concepts such as, "How can you figure out what sticks to magnets?" "How can you make this ice-cube go inside this tiny bottle?" "How can you make those bubbles move across the water table?"
Math/manipulatives: Endless problems can be devised here. Invite children to create patterns to share with one another, to match sets of objects, to hide parts of sets so others can guess what's missing, and to complete Venn diagrams. You might also ask children to make a path across the room using a specific number of objects. Then ask: "How did you choose the objects you used?" "Did you have to use more large objects or small objects?"