My class love animals and in particular insects. We have had various things in the classroom including maggots, ants, spiders, and even a scorpion and the children always take a keen interest. When I heard about the A-Z Of Animal Series hosted by Teach Me Mommy I knew I wanted to make an Insect Tuff Spot. This type of tray setup is useful for both encouraging new vocabulary for my non-English speakers and also for learning about growth and change through life cycles.
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For this tray I decided to use an ant life cycle, a ladybird life cycle and a frog life cycle. We had previously looked at the frog and ant life cycle but I wanted to recap this and also introduce something new.
I split the tray into three sections to represent the three life cycles. For the life cycle of the frog I wanted to show water through to land. For this I used green, blue and clear Water Beads to represent the water. I used resources from the Life Cycle of the Frog set. I added the frog spawn and the tadpole to this section. I then added Aquarium Gravel leading to artificial grass where I placed the froglet and then the frog. I finished this section with some Log Slices.
For the ant life cycle I started with the ant hill which I created using sand dough. This was made using a basic playdough recipe with the addition of sand. I placed regular sand in the tray and then moulded the ant hill on top of this. I added Small Rocks and pod seeds to this. I then used mixed beans in which to place the ant eggs and the pupa from the Life Cycle Stages of the Ant pack. To finish this off I used soil, artificial leaves, Wooden Log Sticks and added the larvae.
For the ladybird life cycle I used an artificial grass sample and constructed a ladybird hideout using small wooden logs. To finish this section, I used soil with seed pods, Lotus Heads, Pine Cones and the Life Cycle Stages of the Ladybug set.
The children enjoyed this activity and used the language of eggs, pupa, larvae and ladybird or ant in their play as well as frogspawn, tadpole, froglet and frog. The children enjoyed moving each lifecycle and placing them in order. We heard lots of language during their play and the children independently got magnifying glasses out so that they could look at each section in more detail. They then decided to add some counting bugs to the tray and incorporated those in their play, naming and counting each one in turn.
The children were four and five years old at the time of this activity.
Check out the other animal activities from A to Z over on Teach Me Mommy.
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Sarah is an Early Years teacher working in an international school in Cairo. She discovered small world tuff trays whilst pregnant with her second son Hamish. Since then she has regularly created them for her older son Findlay and also makes two or three a week for her nursery class.