Start with a jar. You can use plastic bottles if you are more comfortable with that. I often prefer jars as the heaviness of the jar adds to the experience for the kids. They are always cautious, careful as they manipulate the jars.
Add some colored water, about a cup in this case. The kids chose red water for our Heart Jar. It's always a little risky letting the kids do the pouring, but letting them pour is all part of the learning experience. Sure I have to clean up messes from time to time, but around here we never cry over spilled color water.
Next, add some corn syrup. There are many ways to "thicken" the solution in sensory jars such as this one, but to me corn syrup is the easiest way to go. No boiling, no preparing, just let them squirt it right into the jar.
I love the little faces as they squeeze the corn syrup bottles. This is a good place to ask some questions.
"Does the corn syrup pour out like the water did?"
"Why do you think the corn syrup takes longer to come out?"
The answers the children provide allow you to have a conversation about the differences between water and syrup, a bonus Science lesson!
I'd like to tell you exactly how much corn syrup was added, but I must admit I wasn't measuring. I just let them squirt until the jar was about 3/4 full. Once there's enough corn syrup, it's time to add some hearts!
I found a bag of different sized confetti hearts that worked perfectly. We didn't add glitter to the water since the hearts were already covered in glitter. They were different colors, and some were whole hearts while others were just heart outlines. Exactly what we wanted.
Once all the hearts were added, I secure the lid tightly and let them mix it all up to see what happens next. (Lids are later glued on for added security since these jars will be getting a lot of use.)
This is the part where they get to explore how the hearts slowly flow through the water, how some float and some seem to sink, how even their colors change.
Sensory jars never get old around here. Every time we make one they are entertained for quite awhile, amazed at how everything moves around in there.
Now we start to discuss our own hearts, and the importance of keeping them healthy.
This may not seem like an exercise in heart health, but it is. We discuss how exercising keeps our hearts healthy and we talk about our favorite exercises.
We talk about how important it is to eat healthy foods for our heart, and what those healthy foods are. We even start a nice long list of foods that are not healthy for our hearts, and why even though they might be yummy, we shouldn't eat them!
All the while the kids are rolling the jars around, peering inside, watching the hearts. You may think that playing with the jar is a distraction to what we are learning about, but it is actually an addition to what we are learning about. The Jar of Hearts is now associated with ways we can keep our hearts healthy! How do I know they made the connection? Well just look at where they decided to keep the classroom Jar of Hearts...
...right in the Clubhouse Kitchen where we have our
healthy eating food group collages.
Now that is definitely an association that will stick! ;)
How about making your own Jar of Hearts this month and not only using it to celebrate Cupid, but to celebrate ways to keep your hearts healthy in your home?!
Hearts are not just for Valentine's Day,