Dramatic Play and Imaginative Play

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1 Dramatic Play and Imaginative Play Ant Messages Concept: Ants convey information to each other by chemical means. When two ants pass with their heads close together. This is referred to in the Bugs Alive exhibition as an Ant Kiss. This is often about the location of food. If possible show the children how this happens in reality in the garden first. Read Terry and Linton Ants or similar book. Experience: The adult and children wear simple headbands made of cardboard with typical ant antennae bent at right angles. The teacher crawls on the floor and whispers a message about the location of a treat to each child as they crawl by. Variation: the teacher lets the children smell a strong smell such as a sprig of mint, eucalyptus leaf or perfume on a handkerchief. (Note take care in case any children are allergic) The Moth Cloth. Concepts: Moths go through a four-stage process of metamorphosis-egg, caterpillar, pupa and adult moth. Caterpillars moult as they grow larger. Most caterpillars actually become moths not butterflies as there are many more species of moths than butterflies. Experience: Use a piece of dull coloured cloth approximately 150cm by 100 cm. The first child is wrapped in it to represent an egg. Then the child hatches out and begins to eat like a caterpillar with the cloth wrapped around their body. They get too big so they need to crawl out of their tight cloth skin, like moulting. Next the child goes to sleep (the pupa) inside the cloth used as a (cocoon). When the moth emerges he/she can fly away using the cloth as wings. Appropriate music can be added. Cloths can then be available for open-ended dramatic play. Walking the Web. Concept: Spiders make some strands of their webs less sticky, so they will not get caught in it them themselves. Experience: An adult or a child lays out lines of two different coloured wool or string. Children have to walk only on the non-sticky web to go to morning tea or elsewhere. Be a Water Beetle Concept: Some insects have adapted to living in water however they still need air to breathe. Help children recall the water beetles (and the leeches) in the tank in the Bugs Alive exhibit. Experience: Children are water beetles and swim around. When the music stops they must swim up to the surface and take a bubble down under their wings. 18

2 Cicada Story If possible read Densy Clyne s Cicada Sing Song or a similar book and show children an empty cicada nymph shell. Concept: Cicadas spend most of their lives underground feeding from sap in roots. When mature they dig up to the surface and the nymph shell splits and the winged adult emerges. Experience: Adult tells the story and child (children) act it out. Once there was a tiny cicada nymph who lived under the ground. She drank sap from the tree roots and slowly grew and grew. One summer night she dug a tunnel with her strong front legs and reached the surface. It was very beautiful with the stars around, but she knew she must keep climbing. When she was half way up the tree she stopped. Something strange was happening. Her tough skin was splitting down the back. She crawled out of it and left it there. She didn t need it any more. Now she noticed she had beautiful wings and she was bright blue green. How pretty she looked! Her wings were rather wet and crumpled, so she rested till the sun came up and her wings got dry and strong. Then she was so excited! She heard lots of other noisy cicadas calling to her. She flew off to find them and make friends. (See diagram in background information) Puppets There are good puppets available or soft toys that can be used as puppets. Caterpillars, butterflies ladybirds and spiders are fairly readily available. See the table in Resources section for what is sold through the main early childhood suppliers. Others are available in toy stores and elsewhere, but they are often not anatomically correct. Try to avoid those that tend to be cute not scientific. For example, spiders often have cartoon eyes and the legs protruding out of the abdomen rather than the cephalothorax. It is cheap to create you own from felt and you can have endless variety. These can be used as felt board creatures or glued to a card and attached to a tongue depressor to become a puppet. 19

3 Guess what I am. Concept: Bugs have many different body shapes and ways of moving and behaving. Experience: Adult helps children display some salient aspect of a particular bug. For example, Flying gracefully a butterfly or a dragonfly. Flying backwards a dragonfly Pulling the body slowly along the ground a snail Running fast on the ground on all four legs a centipede. Running less fast and coiling up loosely a millipede. Moving then curling up tightly a slater or a pill millipede. Hovering in one place with wings beating very fast a mosquito. Crawling fast then passing a message to another child an ant. Staying still and pretending to eat a caterpillar. Jumping a grasshopper. Sleeping a pupa. 20

4 Costumes Simple cloths can be used for wings. Fabrics that suggest hard shiny beetle wings or those that suggest gauzy dragon fly wings are good. Silk type scarves for soft butterfly wings are useful. A cloth with lots of legs painted on a wrap-around brown worm colour cloth can suggest millipedes or without legs worms. Simple cardboard head bands with antennae or snail eye-stalks can also be used. Fabric with bugs printed on it can also suggest roles to children. These costumes enhance children s open ended play or can be used in more direct group drama such as suggested by the ideas above. Small Bug Models These are fairly readily available see main suppliers below. There is also a useful four-piece set showing changes from caterpillar to butterfly. Cheap shops also have models at low prices. Check for appropriate colouring and discard models that are cute or inappropriately coloured. Playing with these small models is a safe and comfortable way for children to explore bugs as some children may initially feel uncomfortable near live bugs. Model bugs can be presented on a tray with bark, leaves, gravel, sticks or stones or can be hiding in a living pot plant. A simple spider s web made of wool, attached to a branch would allow children to explore insects becoming trapped in webs. Jeannie Baker s book One Hungry Spider could be presented nearby. 21

5 Creative Art Experiences Introduction These experiences are ideally done when children have a chance to observe the live animals. They can be individual or cooperative small group experiences with more or less adult involvement depending on the maturity of the children. Above all, the tasks offer children a chance to reflect on some scientific fact(s) about a particular animal and offer early childhood professionals a chance to discuss and introduce new facts. Because there is a take home product the opportunity also exists for children to discuss the scientific ideas with parents. By their very nature these experiences are less open ended and can be more adult assisted than more general creative experiences. Early childhood professionals need to weigh this fact against their general philosophy and against the science learning that results. We personally see the science learning as the primary objective of these experiences. They are in addition to the more completely open-ended experiences, which are generally offered throughout the program Concept: Caterpillars eat leaves. You can see where a caterpillar is likely to be by looking at the leaves. Experience: Children cut or poke holes in paper, fabric or card leaf shapes and glue to a sheet of paper or card and add drawn caterpillars. Concept: Many insects have complete metamorphosis, this means they go through egg, larva, pupa and adult stage. Experience: This can be an extension of the leaf shapes with holes and caterpillar pictures above. Children make a group or individual progressive collage with four or more pictures. Children can create cocoon or chrysalis shapes adult butterflies or moths and of course tiny eggs from a variety of collage materials. 22

6 Concept: Case moth caterpillars live most of their life in a protective case they make by attaching small sticks on a silk type bag. Experience: Children collect small twigs and glue on paper drawings or on felt shape for felt board or push into clay or play dough shapes of appropriate colour. Concept: Earthworms have long thin bodies with many segments. They don t have eyes, but can sense light and dark. They have a mouth but no teeth. They have little bristles called setae, which they use to anchor themselves in the earth as their muscles help them move. Experience: Help children in a small group fill the leg of an old pair of tights or pantyhose with shredded paper or similar material. Place rubber bands to create segments. Children can push in tooth picks or small twigs for setae. Add a small mouth. Concept: Body features of snails. Snails have a muscular foot, with a mouth under the head end. They have two pairs of antennae on the head end. One pair, the upper ones are retractable eyes on stalks. Snails have a hard shell. Under the broad rim of the shell a breathing hole is often observable. Read Snail Mail by Hazel Edwards or a similar book. Experience: Collect empty snail shells. Let children make a play dough or clay body. Encourage them to add features as described above. Concepts: Millipedes have lots of legs but not a million, just two pairs per body segment. Millipedes coil up when disturbed. Millipedes are dark shiny brown black in colour. Experience: Children or adults can cut a straight millipede out of appropriate coloured paper and glue on a background sheet. Children can add body segments and lots of legs. A coiled millipede can be made similarly and suspended. Concept: Many spiders make webs to trap prey. Some spiders make the stereotypical wheel or orb web. Others make tangle or sheet webs. Experiences: Children can wind wool around a small tree branch to make their own web. (Considerable adult assistance and direction is needed to create the orb web.) Children can easily glue a tangle of wool to a sheet of strong paper or card. They can add a drawn or cut out spider hiding at the side. (Perhaps cut out a photocopied Daddy Long Legs or Black House spider which make such webs.) Concept: Leaf curling spiders hide in a curled leaf on their webs. Experience: Children draw spider on an orb web (adult help needed for web) and glue a curled leaf where they choose ready for spider to make a home out of. Concept: Some spiders such as Huntsman spiders don t make webs to trap their food. Huntsman spiders often live under bark of trees and chase down their prey. Experience: Children glue a photocopy of a huntsman spider on to paper and then add some strips of bark where they choose. Concept: Many species of ants live in tunnels and chambers under the ground. Experience: Children have a mound of play dough or clay. They can scrape or press a pencil/ chopstick into the mound to make some tunnels for an ant to get to a chamber where the queen ant lives. Plastic ant models or cardboard pictures can be used by children to play imaginatively. 23

7 Concept: Scientists classify bugs that look and act the same into groups and give them names. Experience: Over time adults may help children to make or paint or cut out, bug like animals. These can then be put into groups with names suggested by the children. For example painted butterflies, stick insects made of sticks, worms made of clay or play dough, bugs made with play dough and toothpicks etc Perhaps put them in shallow boxes and relate to the pinned collections so prominent near the entrance to the Bugs Alive exhibit. Or do the same with plastic models/figures or with empty Cicada nymph shells, snail shells or cocoons. Clear lidded shirt boxes could be used to display collections Concept: There are a great variety of insects but they have a basic body plan. Experience: Adults prepare a set of reusable wooden dolly pegs by adding pipe cleaner legs and a mark to divide the thorax from the abdomen. Children are supplied with a variety of wing materials. For example, Cellophane type for flies, mosquitos and dragonflies, brown paper or cloth for moths and colourful wrapping paper for butterflies or plain paper and crayons. These can be attached with blue tack so the same peg body can become a different insect next day. 24

8 Concept: Many bugs have an excellent system of camouflage to help them avoid predators. Experiences: Make a stick insect with a stick (glued on paper) for the body and draw on legs, wings and head. Alternatively do this as a small group project with adult help to make a 3D stick insect out of sticks and masking tape or bound together with cotton. Make a stick type insect drawing and add leaves to represent the body and wings of a spiny leaf insect such as those in the Children s Museum. Several other leaf like insects are in the Bugs Alive exhibit. Make a leaf hopper with up right wings using a play dough or pipe cleaner body. The three dimensional bugs could be used in imaginative play experiences where their camouflage can be explored. Such as placing them on a tray with similar leaves or sticks. Concept: Metamorphosis. Seeing the huge wanderer butterfly in the children s museum flap its wings will probably be a highlight for the children. Experience: Adult cuts giant cardboard butterfly, which children can paint in appropriate colours, to attach to the classroom wall or suspend from the ceiling. Do the same with eggs, caterpillar and chrysalis. Concept: Live animals can be a source of artistic inspiration. Experience: Children draw or paint from live animal models

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