Hi, I’m Cathy Adams, Vice President of Merchandising for Discount School Supply.
The Merchandising Department at our company is responsible for selecting and developing the products that appear in the Discount School Supply catalogs. Although my talented team works hard to bring new concepts to our catalogs throughout each year, I am often amazed and thrilled to learn how talented teachers find ways to use our products beyond our original ideas.
Recently, while visiting a preschool, I noticed that one of the teachers was using our Step-A-Stones (STEPSTN) in a most creative way. This product is actually designed to encourage gross motor and balance skills. It includes 6 sturdy, plastic, flat-bottomed “buckets” (these are the stones) that are each 5” high. The “stones” are connected by an adjustable rope running from one little bucket to the next. To use Step-A-Stones, the teacher places the 6 stones, flat side up, in a straight line or in a curve. Then, as a balancing activity, children can step from one “stone” to the next.
However, this teacher was using the 6 stones as sensory stations! She had turned the “stones” upside down so that they looked like bowls instead. Each bowl was filled with something different. She placed rice in one, cotton balls in another, instant snow in another, and so on.
I thought, “Wow, what a clever idea!” There are so many ways to create different learning experiences using these 6 inverted stones. What about burying plastic letters or numbers in each stone and covering them with rice or sand? Or how about teaching sorting skills by hiding various colors in the bowls and asking the children to find everything that is red?
Seeing this sensory station idea in use illustrated for me once again that teachers are some of the most resourceful people I know. They are not “functionally fixed;” they may read the “directions,” but then they go in wonderful directions of their own. Their clever ideas and creativity keep learning fun and encourage children to stay engaged. I hope you will take a second look at Step-A-Stones and share your ideas with me. Thank you!