Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Pool Noodles for DIY Science, P.E., Faith and Sensory Fun

Pool Noodles + Butter Knives + Kiddoes = P.E
I recently wrote a piece over at Special-ism about using pool noodles as a sensory diet tool all year round.  When I wrote the piece, my camera, my computer and I were in the midst of a battle, so I could not offer personal photos to go along with the post.  Well, thankfully, technology is cooperating a bit better for me now, so please enjoy some photos and ideas below, before clicking over to Special-ism for more pool noodle fun here and here. (While at Special-ism, if you are a teacher, a parent or a professional who works with folks with special needs, I encourage you to linger.  Special-ism is such a rich resource for information on many special needs topics.  I stop there almost every day to share in the insights the professionals writing there offer.  Great stuff!)

Now, onto a photo recap of our morning of D.I.Y. pool noodle science, P.E. Faith and sensory diet fun.

Pool Noodle Marble Runs

First, we sliced one of our pool noodles in half.  (Sorry, no pictures of that because three young children, one mama, one pool noodle and a pair sharp scissors do not make for a safe photo opp!)

Then, we fetched Nina's marbles and a "catch" bin and headed over to the outside stairs for some visual-tracking and science fun.

Ready? Set...

Let 'em roll!

Curious about how they marble run would work in other settings, the kids worked muscles and cooperation skills by moving the set up to the driveway.

How will they roll if the ramps lay on a slight decline?

And how about if we change the angle by standing?

And, because they are who they are, Luke, Nina and Jack decided to make marble run machines, building and testing a variety of structures throughout the morning.  Ah, my young engineers working minds and bodies to make their creative visions realities!

"Oh no!" says Luke.  "Our long run isn't working.  How can we redesign it so the marble does not fall off where the two noodles connect?"

A tweak and... YES!  It worked.
But, perhaps adding more chairs to the machine would be fun...

Or more shoots?  Some open and some closed.
With many tests and tweaks, the kids sure got a healthy serving of proprioceptive, visual, tactile and even some vestibular input with this science-based activity!

Wicket Fun Obstacle Course

(Okay, only locals will get the subtitle I just wrote "Wicket fun" = "wicked fun", which I know equals local slang that will make Hubby cringe, but I could not resist.)

We did not have any chop sticks or dowels available so we got creative in making our pool noodle wickets.  Yep, grabbed some butter knives, which hammered into the ground with ease, and then, we were good to go for popping on the pool noodles for some P.E. with a healthy dose of tactile (the grass!) and vestibular (all the different ways for going over, under and around) input.

Low crawl under, jump over...
Jump off the trampoline, stomp between, then jump over and around...

And, just because Nina is Nina, pool noodles even bring faith talk opps:

"Jesus Christ, lay down his life, for us...for us..." 
Has any other child ever laid noodles down, laid atop them and begun to sing?  Probably.  But, it still took me by surprise, then, made me smile.  Children are hands-on learners who often synthesize knowledge by play-acting.  Pool noodle crosses?  Why not?

I encourage you to keep your pool noodles handy even as summer comes to a close.  You never know what learning and sensory fun they could bring!  (And, if you haven't got any pool noodles and don't see any on sale, do not panic. Foam pipe insulators can work, too.)

What are your favorite pool noodle games and activities?


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