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One of my favorite tools to spark enthusiastic learning all around the classroom is a set of magnifying glasses.
Over the years, my teachers and I have discovered fun ways to integrate magnifying glasses into our day so to capture attention, promote conversation, and get students tuning into the details around their world. Here are a couple of examples for you.
Magnifying glasses at story time
Ms. Lauren invited her students to take a close look at all the bugs in the book she was reading. Each child had their own magnifying glass and as she read each page of the story, she took time to let the children look through their magnifying glasses to see if they could find the different bugs on each page. This simple addition to story time got the children excited about participating!
Magnifying glasses at the chalkboard
We are always creating activities for our students to try on the chalkboards around the classroom. To do this, we use chalk marker to draw the activity then set out regular chalk and erasers for the children to draw on top of our activity. In this activity, Ms. Lauren also added a few magnifying glasses for the children to look for the bugs on her I Spy chalk board and to look for letters in their names on the other chalk board. Young children love to use magnifying glasses as a way to explore everything in their world.
Magnifying glasses build participation and promote discussion.
Ms. Lauren also invited her students to use their magnifying glasses as they read together the latest edition of My Big World magazine from Scholastics. The children were invited to look for the details of different bugs they saw in each picture. Giving the children something to hold and use as part of your discussions can build better engagement and keeps the process even more interesting for the children. Our students love having their own magnifying glasses to hold and use.
More ways to use magnifying glasses.
There are countless ways you can use magnifying glasses around the classroom. Here is a quick list to get you thinking…
- Keep a set out side for nature walks and hunting for bugs.
- Keep a few magnifying glasses near any new object(s) you bring into the classroom so the children can take a closer look at the details.
- Place a magnifying glass at the light table. Invite the children to discover and explore the light as it flows through the magnifier.
- Keep magnifying glasses at your art or chalk easel. You would be surprised how the children will just take a minute to look through them at their drawings or paintings.
- Set magnifying glasses out at the book and writing center to encourage children to look for letters, words, or just to take a closer look at the details of illustrations.
- Keep a variety of magnifying glasses around the classroom. There are lots of different types so be sure you think about where to place each type so that they don’t get broken. I have some magnifying glasses that are more for “special uses” and others that are for everyday use.
Have a mini-lesson
Most young children will tend to put the magnifying glass right up to their eyes instead of closer to the object. Don’t worry too much about it. In my mind, any use of the magnifying glass slows the children down just enough to get in a few words of discussion on the details of their world. However, you may wish to take a few minutes to talk about your magnifying glasses so that the children know how to use them and how to take care of them.
Avoid the Cheap Kind
If you look through a magnifying glass and see absolutely no or very little change in magnification, then I recommend you keep looking for better magnifying glasses. I am not talking about spending hundreds of dollars on high level magnifiers but the really cute ones that don’t work will not be interesting to the children. Pay attention to the difference!