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May 26, 2015

Differentiating Out of This World Week

*Please note* This blog is intended for campers (ages 3+) but toddler teachers may find some ideas easy to adapt. Toddler teachers are also encouraged to review the toddler-specific differentiation ideas found in the Curriculum Notes.


Encourage young imaginations by inviting children to take a trip “Out of this World” with you! The possibilities of this theme are endless when children converse, collaborate, and combine their interests to create activities that they want to repeat again and again.

This week’s activity suggestions and club options provide a great balance of skill-building opportunities for a variety of learning styles.  You’ll need to customize your environment and the materials in it to make sure there is something inviting and interesting for each learner in your classroom.  Here are some suggestions on ways to adjust the complexity of activities to keep your campers engaged and learning!


Google Earth – Extend Google Earth into a papier-mâché project for children Paper-Mache-Globe-580x386who thrive on tactile activities. This multi-day project could have many facets: building the earth with papier-mâché, painting its surface to replicate the Google Earth image, and adding texture details (shiny corn syrup paint for lakes and oceans, mâché mountains, etc. The activity encourages campers to take a deeper look at the surface of the Earth, synthesize the information, and apply it to a hands-on creation.


Night Sky Mural for Star Gazing – This class project could be split into multiple projects depending on the needs of your students. Consider simplifying the project by simply providing mural paper, paint (blue, back, white), and unconventional painting tools to explore color mixing and the marks various painting tools make.  This is a great opportunity to help guide fine motor skills and build trunk strength too. Encouraging children to try to paint with their least dominate hand too! This engages a different part of the brain. Increase complexity by challenging campers to research and add constellations or the phases of the moon!


Space Station – In addition to a large cardboard box, assorted recyclables, and duct tape/glue – invite children to make suggestions for more materials to customize their station. Mural paper, paint, mark101215-F-1234S-010ers, contact paper, stickers, pipe cleaners, yarn, tissue paper, beads, and pom poms have unlimited potential. Space stations have lots of buttons and switches! To hit multiple learning styles – add background music, space station photos both printed and on a tablet, and small cooperative groups to boost social interaction. You can increase or decrease the complexity of the project based on the amount and type of materials and tools you provide at any one time. Some campers will thrive with simple paint and brushes, glue, and pom poms while others will be best engaged with a larger assortment and more complex tools such as scissors and paper, unconventional painting tools, paper towel tubes, duct tape, and pipe cleaners.



Moon Rock Throw – Invite children to help you create this game by crumpling up foil to make the “moon rocks” and designing the space in which to throw them. This may be best developed with multiple small groups who have varying inteTinBalls_600rests. Some campers will want to make a more complex ski-ball or pitching practice design while others will be happy with a few small hula hoops to scatter and aim at.  Help children develop gross motor muscles and coordination by guiding each child in their movement. Underhand, overhand, left hand, right hand, stepping and throwing, and even shooting it like a basketball are all ways to encourage this development.