Jul 3, 2013

Learning and Exploring with Sand Dollars and Starfish

A few weeks back, I picked up a couple packages of sand dollars and starfish at the Christmas Tree Shop. They were the perfect size and weight for little hands to explore, and I knew I could do something with them. I had every intention of using them in a small world or a sensory bin and I probably still will, but I wanted to let Kingston explore them on their own first. I attempted to stack them nicely on the floor, but as soon as he spotted them he raced over to knock them down and grab one! He was so intrigued!

(Like his "shark bait" shirt? Yup, he has a lot of outfits to fit this Baby School theme!)

He was immediately attracted to the starfish. He turned it around in his hands and explored all of the points. I explained to him what it was. I told him that it was a "sea creature". He laughed at the word "creature" like it was the funniest thing he had every heard! We talked about the texture of the starfish. I used the words, "rough", and "bumpy" to describe it. 

Then he moved on to the sand dollar. I'm not going to lie, I actually had to Google what a sand dollar technically was before we did this activity. Yes, I am aware that I could have told Kingston it was a monkey from the moon and maybe he wouldn't know the difference, but I think it is important to be accurate with him despite his age! From what I read, a sand dollar is actually a relation to the sea urchin. The object that we typically classify as a sand dollar is actually the skeletal remains of the creature. I didn't go this far in my explanation to Kingston, but I did tell him that a sand dollar was a "sea creature" and pointed out that it was "soft" and "smooth". He felt the texture of the holes on the sand dollar and turned it over and over in his hands. 

Next, he turned back to the starfish and gave it a little taste. It is pretty clear from his expression what he thought of that! 

The next activity we did was line up the starfish and sand dollars and use them as counting manipulatives. I have been working on introducing the concept of counting to ten with Kingston recently. This is how we practice. We set up a group of objects and I point and count. Usually K will grab them as I point at them. Today, I set them up in a line and he watched as I pointed at each one and counted. Then he picked up a starfish and we counted the points. We also counted the holes in each sand dollar. 

Then I set the sand dollars and starfish up into two separate towers and Kingston set to work knocking them down. We played this game for awhile. I would build up the tower and he would come knock it down. He likes to take his hands and swipe the entire tower over in one fell swoop of destruction!

The last activity we did in our sand dollar and starfish exploration was a starfish crawl. This was a simple as it sounds, but incorporated some gross motor skills. I placed a starfish in one part of the room and Kingston would crawl and retrieve. It was kind of like a more coordinated game of fetch! Kingston had fun speed crawling to each starfish. 

Look at that tongue hanging out! This is his concentration face! 

And I couldn't resist this picture of his cloth fish booty! Totally appropriate for the occasion!


  1. Hahahaha...I love the coordinating outfits. Is it weird that whenever I hear/see the word shark bait that I always think of the movie Finding Memo?? One of the fish in the tank welcomes Shark Bait aka Memo to the tank and says, "Shark bait. Oooh ha ha." Anyway...

    I love how you tailored this activity to his developmental stage to encourage crawling and knocking stuff down. Seriously what kid his age doesn't love knocking stuff over?! Okay, my boys still enjoy that even at almost ages 2 and 4.

    Long story short, great post. I always look forward to reading what you guys have been up to.

    1. I love to coordinate outfits .. and it is not weird at all because I do the EXACT SAME THING! I knew we were kindred spirits. When I saw this shirt at Target, I thought "Shark Bait ooh ha ha!" I love Nemo! That is so funny that you said that!! Thank you thank you for all your kind words! He was very into exploring them. We are now leaving a display out on our hearth with all of the items/books in his thematic units and he has been gravitating to these sand dollars and starfish constantly! We are loving this theme so far! :)