Saturday, June 4, 2011

Magnifier Discovery Board

Both of our girls are in love with their magnifying glasses at the moment, we bought them about a month ago and they've been getting a daily workout ever since. At Bubble's kindy they have a great 'discovery board' toy which consists of a wooden tray with holes cut into it and tiny specimens for the kids to look at with their magnifiers. There is a sheet of perspex bolted over the top to keep all the little things inside.
I thought it was genius and wondered if we could make something similar ourselves where the things inside could be changed around regularly. It took awhile to find some cheap petri dishes but our discovery board turned out pretty well and I'm really looking forward to changing the items inside it every few weeks to fit with whatever theme it is we are learning about.


* an old wooden puzzle board
(you could also use wooden board cut to size, a chopping board, a wooden tray etc...)
* a pack of plastic petri dishes
(we sourced ours from Ebay)
* adhesive
(we used clear Liquid Nails, but any strong glue would do the trick)
* small items of interest
* magnifying glass

For the base of our discovery board I used the reverse side of a large wooden puzzle that had lost some pieces.
(see HERE for what we did with the remaining pieces)

Using clear Liquid Nails (any strong glue would work, that was just what I had on hand) I attached as many of the petri dish bases to the board as I could fit.
Once the glue was dry (overnight) I filled each one with something interesting for the girls to examine and replaced the dish lids over the top.

Newsprint and old keys.

Pencil shavings and seed beads.

A piece of clay with an imprint and a swatch of interesting fabric.

Some coloured buttons and the insides from a broken kaleidoscope toy (I knew I held onto this stuff for a reason :-D).

A circle cut from one of the girls magazines.

Bubble examining the items in the discovery board.

Other ideas for discovery boards:

Natural items : leaves (skeleton leaves especially would look great), seeds, seed pods, flowers, dead insects like bugs or butterflies, soil samples, gravel/stones, bark samples, grass blades.

Colours or shapes: small beads, felt or fabric discs, sequins, play dough or clay shapes, miniature items of certain shapes (bottle lids, buttons, stamps etc...), glitter, coloured sand, confetti.

Textures: Fabric samples like hessian, satin, velvet etc..., netting (fruit bags or stockings), course sandpaper, recycled paper, carpet swatches, ash, smooth gemstones, clay, rough and smooth tree bark.

Best toys for toddlers

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  1. This idea is totally the BOMB! I can't wait to try it!

  2. how fun! I would enjoy sitting it and doing too, haha!

    would love for you to link this idea &any others your'd like to share to the Sunday Showcase


  3. I absolutely love this, a great thing to do with toddlers! They never get to experience such tiny things this a such a safe way to do it!

  4. LOVE this idea! My little one would love it and I would love to use it in my pre-k classroom! Thanks for sharing.

  5. This is such an awesome idea! Stef is right, this would be great to do with toddlers since the objects are so tiny. Maybe you could use items that the girls find on walks or trips to the beach as well. I've linked up to your post on my weekly favorites here:

  6. I love this idea! You could really make all kinds of discovery boards!

  7. Amazing idea! I just love it - now I need to source the dishes!

  8. Very Cool idea!! Can't wait to try it.

  9. Now this idea is just all kinds of wonderful! Thanks for sharing it with us on the It's Playtime link up.

  10. Awesome idea Caz! Featuring it on High paw! :)

  11. What a fantastic idea! I've got to make one of these!

    Thanks for sharing and inspiring!

  12. Great idea...I am off to find petri dishes...

  13. I LOVE this and I just happen to have petri dishes on hand! haha! I may have a go at this sometime this week!!

  14. This is an excellent idea! I just stumbled upon your blog and I am so glad I did! Newest Follower here!
    I am going to share you with my fb page peeps here:
    Come by sometime!

  15. In our Pre-K we cannot have anything glass so the petri dishes are out, so I found clear plastic party bowls and plates, I can place one on top of the other, after placing my items in the bottom one and use clear cement glue and glue them together, of course I cannot change items out, but for 12 plates at $5.00, I can buy and make 6 more.

  16. Anonymous - the petri dishes we used are plastic (we got them in lots of 10 from Ebay) but the plates and bowls idea is fabulous! I was thinking those clear lipgloss pots with the screw on lids would work really well too.

    Thankyou for the lovely comments everyone, this activity is still a hit with our girls so we'll post some new board ideas over the next few weeks. Would love to hear what anyone else ends up putting in theirs!

  17. I did something like this once. I found a dead dragonfly and placed it inside a plastic CD cover. The kids were able to pick it up and look at the insect from the back and the front. The case protected the lace-like wings and made the dragonfly more "friendly" since it was in plastic.

  18. I love this idea! Did you put anything on top of the petri dishes to keep the lids on?

  19. Partly Sunny -using a cd case is an awesome idea, and much more portable too than a big board!

    Anon - nope I didn't secure the lids because we only have supervised play with it, but I think using those screw top lid jars (the kind that lip balms come in) might work better for a classroom setting or where you want to be able to leave the board out?

  20. I found your post on Pinterest and it is such a clever idea! I also shared it on Montessori MOMents Facebook page here:!/pages/Montessori-MOMents/186597394722411
    Thanks for sharing such an innovative idea.