Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Guidecraft's Balance Base & Multi Match Sensory Discs: Review & Giveaway Link

Each month, the Guidecraft Educators will share our honest feelings about a Guidecraft product(s) and how these products would fare in an early childhood classroom. This month's selection include the Multi Match Sensory Discs and a Balance Base from Guidecraft's Gross Motor/Sensory line! These two products in particular are wonderful for use indoors, as they are safe and entertaining on those indoor-rainy days.

Why is gross motor development and sensory experience so important for preschoolers?

Gross motor skill development is essential with preschoolers, as the development of these skills helps to foster the development of the fine motor skills which are so essential to the success during school years. Providing children with a variety of activities to develop these skills helps them to find an interest and desire to explore the use of these muscles.

Sensory activities are especially important in preschool settings because children learn through hands-on activities in which they can explore using their senses - sight, touch, taste, hearing, smelling. When there is a tactile object available for children to explore, they are more likely to make a connection with and eventually utilize the information learned.

Guidecraft offers a wide variety of products that focus on both of these developmental areas, assuring ample opportunity to explore and enhance such skills.

Guidecraft's Balance Base

Made of sturdy wood, this balance base provides children with the opportunity to enhance gross motor skills in two different ways. One side of the balance base provides a "step" of sorts, that allows children with less gross motor balance to place their feet and feel as though they are balancing. The other side of the base is smooth finished wood (a bit more of a challenge for children, as they have to strategically place their feet on the base without slipping to create a balance.

I pulled this out of the closet on a day when the children appeared particularly antsy - needing some different and new to explore during "large motor time." Along with it, I also pulled out an older balance base that we had from a different supplier. The second had a lever of sorts in the middle, not the gradual curve like Guidecraft's. The children were eager to try out the Guidecraft model and many tested out both sides (enjoying the smooth curved side more than the side with the "step"). They were more hesitant to try out the other model of balance base, as it looked "harder" from my demonstration of how to use them.

The use of the balance bases was definitely much loved. The children really enjoyed trying out the two different models. I was thoroughly impressed with their ability to use the bases (some did require a bit of hand holding to feel at ease, even with the Guidecraft model) and eagerness to attempt their use, even though some did struggle. This activity will definitely help foster a development of gross motor skills!

Multi Match Sensory Discs

These tactile discs can be used in a variety of different ways - matching colors, shapes and/or numbers (cognitive activities), tossing (gross motor), and sensory exploration. The bright colors are definitely eye-catching and interesting to children. On the particular day that I pulled these out to explore with them, the children in my UPK class were in need of some number recognition practice and the discs seemed to provide exactly what I was looking for. Each child was given one of the small round discs that contained a number and the corresponding number word. The larger discs, containing the sensory shapes were placed in the center of the carpet. Children took turns and were asked to name the number on the disc they were holding (many needed help and other children were eager to help them out in naming the number) and then place it on the larger disc that showed that many objects. This was done several times, giving the children different number discs each time and despite what may seem like a simple task, the children were really challenged by this but not to the extent of not being able to enjoy the activity. Overall, it was one of the activities that has kept their attention for quite some time (the game went on for over a half an hour)! It's definitely something to break out of the closet every once in a while and for different purposes!

Both of these activities were greatly enjoyed and would be a welcome addition to early childhood classrooms!

What do other 'Guidecraft Educators' have to say about these gross motor/sensory activities?

Maureen at Simply Stacie
Andrea at MommyPR
Deborah at Teach Preschool
Carrie from Huppie Mama
Jody from Mommy Moment
Candace at Mamanista!

For a chance to win a set of ALL 3 of these wonderful blocks sets, visit:
Candace at Mamanista!,
the host of the January Guidecraft Educators giveaway!

Or... if you just can't wait or really want to get your hands on this wonderful line of products, they can be purchased online at either Amazon.com or on Guidecraft's Website!

Balance Base - Amazon.com or Guidecraft Website
Multi Match Sensory Discs - Amazon.com or Guidecraft Website

If you're interested in finding out more information about any of the books reviewed or if you'd like to purchase the books, click the cover image for a link to Amazon.com. I am an Amazon Affiliate, so any purchases you make after clicking these images will result in my receiving a small percentage of the sale price!

Monday, January 2, 2012

New Year... New Look

The start of 2012 means a blog layout update is in order! Rather than heading off to one of the many wonderful blog template makers, I decided I'd give it a go at creating my own layout! I must say, I think it turned out pretty good for a first timer!

As many of you probably notice (and noticed back in the fall), the name of my blog has been slightly altered. It is now Katie's {Little Ones} Learning Lounge, as opposed to just Katie's Literature Lounge. This change was deemed necessary by me, as I am now reviewing products to use with early childhood education as well as the books like always! It is also my intent to share some of the activities that I use with my Head Start/UPK group with all of my readers, so you have that to look forward to in 2012.

Hope the new year brings everyone the best and I look forward to continue hearing from all of my avid readers/followers!

If you're interested in finding out more information about any of the books reviewed or if you'd like to purchase the books, click the cover image for a link to Amazon.com. I am an Amazon Affiliate, so any purchases you make after clicking these images will result in my receiving a small percentage of the sale price!