Thursday, December 30, 2010

Coffee Beans

Woodland Park doesn't always smell so good, but during the last week before the holiday break, we had both cinnamon dough and coffee beans going at once. It was an olfactory pleasure to come into the classroom each morning.

I don't know how easy it is to get coffee beans in other parts of the world, but around here it's a fairly easy thing. Home to Starbucks and at least a half dozen other large roasters, there seems to always be some around if you just know who to ask. In fact, our garden paths were once paved with over-roasted, unroasted, and partially roasted beans, and while we've lost our source for such massive quantities, there's still Teacher Aaron across the street who has family ties to the business. This batch came from him.

This is a mixture of roasted and green coffee beans -- rather pretty. The adults joke that the caffeine will somehow make its way into the kids blood streams, and maybe it does judging by how enthusiastically the beans get to scooped and poured. Our magnificent sensory table was slammed all week.

As you can see, we're using large yoghurt cups and funnels made from the tops of 2-liter soda bottles to go along with the shovels and scoops. That was enough.

We talk a lot about trying to keep the beans in the table, and the kids get it, even the 2-year-olds, who after a few experiments with throwing it into the air, are usually pretty good about keeping them at home. Still, a lot of it winds up on the floor and when the brooms come out, they want to help so much. The problem with young children and sweeping, however, is that as hard as they work at it, the net result is usually to just scatter the debris farther and wider. 

This idea from my friend Jenny at Let The Children Play worked wonderfully.

We put a target on the floor.

Some of them insisted on using the adult-sized brooms.

But we had more success with brooms our own size.

As you can see in the lower right-hand corner of the picture above, 2-year-old Henry got the idea of helping his friends with the fun by intentionally adding to the mess.

And it was more fun, but I'm glad his friends didn't decide to imitate his thoughtful efforts.

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Scott said...

The target area on the floor is genius. Thanks, Tom.

MOM #1 said...

I need to make a target on the floor when I sweep. It isn't always pretty, LOL.

Deborah said...

Mmmmm, I love the smell of coffee!

De tout et de rien said...

Love the idea! I remember my son's teacher did that and I remember there was a manual coffee grinder. My son played so much with it that I had to buy one and do it at home on rainy days (which happens a lot in Seattle) LOL :O)
I love your blog :O)

Play for Life said...

I'm not sure if we can buy recycled coffee beans here in Australia but I really should look into it ... coffee grounds on the other hand? Hmmm ...Sherry and I could keep just about everyone supplied in those! If your coffee beans smell anything like I imagine them to smell - what a wonderful all round sensory experience your children must be having Tom!
Donna :) :)

BTW - It was our lovely Jenny from "Let the children play" who taught us all about the 'weeping target' !!!

pink and green mama MaryLea said...

I'm totally making a target like that at our house...
but it will be for my husband ; )

Great minds think alike-- we had a coffee sensory box going all week too but ours was with ground coffee-- and yes, there was a lot of follow up sweeping practice!

Happy New Year!
- ML

Teacher Tom said...

@Donna . . . Thanks for reminding me! I've now linked to her post.

Miss Elizabeth said...

This is an amazing idea! Out of curiosity, did you actually get "donations" of beans from Starbucks? Or were they just from Teacher Aaron?