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South America Animals Habitat Sensory Bin Small World Water Beads

Small world play is extremely important to children as it shrinks the immense adult world to a manageable digestible "tray" where children can develop emotionally by exploring their imagination and re-enacting certain experiences, thus reflecting on feelings and life events in a safe way. Children also develop personal and social skills as small world play invites children to be creative, thus boosting their confidence when children are able to experiment with various fillers (sand, rice, pasta, marbles, water beads) and materials (animal figureens, dolls, Lego, etc.). Small world is also an excellent way to practice social skills where children can learn to take turns, listen to each other's ideas, compromise and sympathize. Children also develop their reasoning, problem-solving and even numeracy skills during grouping, sorting or counting items. Small world play also facilities in building vocabulary as it allows children to practice their language skills in a meaningful context while acting out scenes from real life, stories or imagination in a miniature play scene, using small figures and objects. There is really no limitation to your creativity what to use for small world play and that is why it is truly inexhaustible subject!

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Today, we are learning about South America animals and its habitat.

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I am using a Kmart tray but you can use a baking tin or any tuff tray you have handy. 

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 Next, make your filler ~ sensory medium. Today, it is water beads. I am actually making DIY water beads from clear hydrogels which are must more economically effective. 

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Simply add the desired food coloring to each batch during the expansion process and Voila! You will have your own costume colors water beads. 

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 These clear miniature bead will grow into pearls, by simply adding water and letting water beads sit until they are round smooth elegant pearls (about an hour). Made of non-toxic super-absorbent cross-linked polymer, these make a perfect sensory filler and they are fully biodegradable too!
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To make an island, and to separate our biomes, I simply placed recycled icicles sticks into the white styrofoaud and secured it with kinetic sand rock and home-made play dough. 

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The wooden ice pop stick separates blue and green water beads. 

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Kinetic sand rock gives our island a more realistic feel

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Next, we are filling our sensory tray with water beads

DSC_0153 We discussed some of the animals that live in South America

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Seahorses are tiny fishes that are named for the shape of their head, which looks like the head of a tiny horse. They reside in the world’s tropical and temperate coastal waters, swimming upright among seaweed and other plants. Seahorses use their dorsal fins (back fins) to propel slowly forward. To move up and down, seahorses adjust the volume of air in their swim bladders, which is an air pocket inside their bodies. A female seahorse lays dozens, sometimes hundreds, of eggs in a pouch on the male seahorse’s abdomen. Called a brood pouch, it resembles a kangaroo’s pouch for carrying young. Seahorse young hatch after up to 45 days in the brood pouch. The baby seahorses, each about the size of a jelly bean, find other baby seahorses and float together in small groups, clinging to each other using their tails. Unlike kangaroos, baby seahorses do not return to the pouch. They must find food and hide from predators as soon as they’re born. (Read more here.)

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Did you know that penguins are found as far close to the equator as Galapagos Islands?

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There are 1720 species of penguins alive today, all of which live in the southern half of the globe. The most northerly penguins are Galapagos penguins which occasionally poke their heads north of the equator. 

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We also talked about the sea turtles and the tortoises

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Land turtle, also called a tortoise ~ does not have any teeth. Carrying its shell on its back, a tortoise can be spotted in hues of brown or green.
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The sea turtle has a shell that is hard and bony for protection. The top is called carapace. The bottom is called plastron. A sea turtle can swim as fast as 20 mp, that is four-times faster than a human can swim.

DSC_0153More about a turtle study here ~ ☀️Summer Themed Unit Study 

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Macaws are long-tailed, often colorful New World parrots native to Central America and North America (only Mexico), South America, and formerly the Caribbean.

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South America boasts four species of terrestrial chelonians. The largest one is the fully protected Giant Tortoise of the Galapagos Island.

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Small world play provides many opportunities for a child to learn through play about animals, where they live, their behavior as well as exploring their habitats. And, manipulation of objects aids the child in a better understanding of his/her environment. Through hands-on learning, the child is helped to make abstractions, he is helped in making distinctions in his environment, and the child is given the knowledge not through word of mouth, but through his own experiences. 

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