Friday, April 5, 2013

Stoplight Sorting

Here's a prop activity to add to your transportation storytimes: stoplight sorting!

Why use it: I got the idea on I Heart Crafty Things, where Rachel had her son sort Legos and colored blocks. Sorting colors helps reinforce color concepts and the concepts of same and different. Knowing what traffic lights mean is a life skill that can help keep kids safe, especially as they get older and might be outside on their own.

I decided to use clothespins because pinching them open is a great activity to build fine motor control. I learned from one of our local kindergarten teachers that they use clothespins in the classroom because it helps build up those muscles so that kids can hold pencils properly, so I wanted to incorporate that activity into my storytime.

How to make it: I made the stop light from cardboard covered over with construction paper. A pizza place donated some misprinted cardboard pizza boxes to us at one point and we're still working our way through them. I used small paper plates as a template to make the circles the size I wanted, but you could use any circle of whatever size you want as a template. I attached each circle to the cardboard back with black yarn because I wanted the kids to be able to pinch the clothespins on. If you wanted to sort different objects, you could make a flat stoplight. You could also make a felt stop light and pass out small felt circles for children to sort. 

You could make it more durable by laminating it or covering it with contact paper if you wanted. I purchased a huge pack of clothespins for about $8 and had a volunteer paint 30 of them. She just painted the top and the bottom - I wasn't too concerned with her covering every inch of them. 

How to use it: This would be a great activity for programs on transportation or colors. You may want to teach them this little song about stoplight colors first: 

(To the the tune of the first two lines of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star)
Red means stop.
Green means go.
Yellow watch out!
You better go slow. 

(That comes from my childhood, so I have no idea who made it up!)

You may also want to play stop and go, either with musical instruments like bells and shakers or physical activity like jumping up and down, spinning around, marching around the room, etc. Stop and go games are a fun way to practice that concept so that when parents really need kids to STOP, they'll think it's a game and do it! 

If you have a group or a class, you could have the basket of clothespins and invite them to take turns coming up one at a time to choose a clothespin and match it to the right color. You might also want to pass out clothespins and invite each child to come up and pin theirs on. You could also use this as a toy for playtime after your storytime and have the set available for children to try. If you made a sturdier version than mine, you could also put this out as an early childhood station in your children's room or your classroom. The clothespins are cheap to replace if they walk away or are lost and it's a great activity to get ready to learn to write!