art,  oriental trading,  Playground

Personalizing our playground with Oriental Trading

I’ve loved Oriental Trading for as long as I can remember, so when they offered to send me some products to review, I jumped at the opportunity! Since my focus has been on creating an engaging playground, I chose Oriental Trading Products that would add value and color to this space.  I was like a little kid on Christmas when the box arrived, it included unfinished wood bird houses, bird feeders, wind chimes, blank plastic sun catchers and paint pens, and blank kites.

I love all of the unfinished wood because it really gives my students the opportunity to be creative.  Before introducing all of the materials to the children I put together the bird feeders (I had some help from my family so they went together pretty quickly).  Each of the children in the preschool and pre-k classes at my school decorated a bird feeder, and they all look different!

The infants, toddlers and preschoolers helped me with the wind chimes.  The infants and toddlers finger painted them, while the preschoolers used brushes (and their fingers too).
The infants and toddlers also helped out with the large bird houses, we finger painted both of them and they are beautiful, I did the sun catchers with the students in our pre-k class, and they did an amazing job with the pain pens (although I recommend paint smocks because they were messier than I thought they would be. 
Before displaying anything on the playground I sprayed all of the wooden items with a coat of clear spray paint to protect the wood and the paint. 
Here are some photos of the finished products on our playground:
I wanted the infants and toddlers to be able to enjoy the sun catchers, so I turned a wooden crate on its side and hung some of the sun catchers inside the crate. I hung the rest from a tree branch where the children can watch the sun come through the colors. 
The wind chimes look perfect hanging from our picket fence.  Our school is in a residential neighborhood and I was worried that these would be loud and the noise would irritate the neighbors, but they don’t get a ton of wind hanging this close to the wall, so it’s a very light, comforting sound.  
I put hooks in the bird houses so that we could hang them in a tree, but I decided to keep them low to the ground so the children could peek in and see if any birds were building their nests.  This one in perched on a piece of driftwood. I also place one in a large planter. 
After we finished all of the decorative touches, we started working on the kites.  The preschoolers and pre-k children loved coloring these, and they loved that they got to use permanent markers!

Putting the kites together was a challenge, and the instructions could definitely be improved, but it didn’t seem to matter to the children.  Most of our playground is covered by a very large tree, so we decided to take our kites to a local courtyard to fly.  
It was a windy day, and probably perfect for flying kites, but the children had a really hard time getting them in the air.  We ended up running with the kites to help the fly.  The children loved this experience, it was the first thing that they told their parents about at the end of the day.  Only half of the kites will be able to be flown again, there were quite a few casualties.  All in all decorating and flying the kites kept the children busy, and was a lot of fun.  
I am so happy with the personal touches that we were able to add to our playground, and flying kites was an amazing experience for the children.  Oriental Trading continues to provide great products at price points that teachers can afford, and that children love!
This post reflects my honest opinions about Oriental Trading and the products reviewed.  Oriental Trading provided the products for review but did not sponsor this post in any way. 

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