Wednesday, February 29, 2012
I then labeled the sticks and added example ribbon to help to show what rough and smooth feel like. We discussed the words rough and smooth, we talked about how it feels on our fingers, then E began the sorting! She actually did a great job of determining the texture. The was a simple and fun activity.
Wednesday, February 22, 2012
I really should have taken pictures of me trying to fill these balloons because it didn't go so smoothly. I used a funnel, a turkey baster, and my brute strength to get the balloons filled. There are balloons filled with play dough, sand, candy hearts, air with a few pieces of rice, and water.
When I brought out the balloons, E was immediately intrigued. Balloons, I had prewritten the journal fill ins to guide our play and discussions. The sentences say, "The _____ balloon feels _____ like there might be _____ inside." We spent a lot of time (probably like 15 minutes) feeling the weight, texture, bounciness, and even smell of these! I did get E to give answers to fill in each blank.
We were then getting ready to go to bath time, so I thought it would be fun to add on another element by asking about what ones she thought would sink or float. We made predictions in the journal, as well. She loved playing with them in the bath as much or more as she loved playing with them on the table! So, I guess the struggles I had with filling the balloons was well worth the outcome of having fun and learning with this activity!
The main fillers in the this bin include small pieces of spaghetti colored green, a silk square, unrolled toilet paper, coffee beans, and river rocks. Some of the untensils and containers include a spoon, turner/tongs, an old spice container (still smelling of cumin), tongue depressors, pipe curve, a cup, coffee filter, clothes pins, a small Ziploc container, and a carboard box. Other items in the bin include foam balls, a car, rubber bands, sandpaper, and pieces of yarn.
The two most popular items in this bin are definitely the hand warmer and the reusable ice cubes. E spent a lot of time trying to warm up and cool down the other items in the bin. She wanted me to sit down to play, and I did some things she hadn't come up with like putting the spaghetti pieces into the foam balls, "drawing" with the yarn on the sandpaper, making hats with the toilet paper, etc. I can't wait to get it out again to see what she comes up with!
Monday, February 20, 2012
Up until a few years ago, different states had different standards for learning. Recently, though, there has been a push to have nationwide common core standards for grades K-12. Preschools are supposed to align their standards to have students ready for kindergarten. Although I can find the kindergarten standards on the common core website, I am not experienced enough with toddlers to know what to do to get them ready for the kindergarten standards (basically, to break those basics down into even smaller skills and steps). Luckily, though, I found a great set of learning guidelines from the Oklahoma Department of Human Services for ages three through five. These guidelines have standards, indicators of child's progress, and teacher strategies and activities to put these guidelines into practice. These standards seem to be in line with the common core standards, as well. These guidelines are what I use to help make sure I am working on the skills E will need to have to begin Kindergarten.
From there, I decided I would pick unit topics that are interesting and timely to work to meet our standards. Holidays, vacations, animals, hobbies, weather, and favorite activities are the unit topics I am currently planning. This particular unit focuses on the five senses. I think this topic has a lot of possible activities and includes a lot of vocabulary and life skills that are important to learn about.
After I decided on a unit, I like to gather my resources. I started at the library. I used a key word search to find books, primarily non-fiction books, on the topic. It is so important to expose students to vocabulary, realistic pictures, and factual information about the topics. Above you will see the collection of non-fiction books I have collected so far for this unit.
My next steps in planning this unit is looking through both the standards with indicators and the various activities I have collected in hopes of using and/or modifying them with E. I try to match up the activities with the standards and indicators. Then, I try to think up activities to do to hit the standards and indicators we don't have any activities planned to cover. Many times we have books, music, toys, instruments, etc. that I can easily incorporate to help to meet the standards and indicators.
On top of that, we want to have FUN! Having fun and learning new things in the process are really what all of this is about!
Hopefully, if you are new to planning, my technique with give you a place to begin!
Saturday, February 18, 2012
All of the texture and description lead us perfectly into next week, when we will begin discussing the five senses! I have been doing a lot of prep work, and I will dedicate my next blog post to the planning behind a cohesive group of activities around a theme.
All of the bags have a similar premise, copy the pattern I already made. Sometimes (like the ones on the left) the pattern is on half of the sheet, and E's job is to copy the pattern with similar types, positions, or colors with the half already created. The one on right is the same idea, but starting with her own foam sheet. It also focuses a little more on the spacial aspects of patterning. In some bags there are exactly the right foam stickers to copy the pattern, in others there are extras.
In the few times we have worked on these bags, E has struggled her way through. She gets really excited when she sees stickers, and just starts peeling the back off. I guide her through the thinking process behind creating the patterns, and try to give her a couple of ways to go about it: 1)look at what is first in the pattern using the standard left to right top to bottom, find the corresponding sticker, then put the sticker in the right spot 2) pick out a sticker, find the matching sticker on the pattern already there, then put the sticker in the right spot). It is a complicated process, and these bags aren't much of a filler activity YET, but I have faith that each time we work on these, E will "get it" more.
It was a fun way of showing love and working on number recognition. This is a good activity for even those kids with a little less number recognition experience than E because they can see the number on the page then go find the number, making it more of a matching activity. At any rate, I would suggest this book (and most Karen Katz books) for a fun activity!
Tuesday, February 14, 2012
We used the recipe from http://chemistry.about.com/cs/howtos/ht/boraxsnowflake.htm. We began by shaping pipe cleaners into hearts. I asked E to get two red pipe cleaners from the box, and she grabbed a metallic one and a regular one. I'm not sure that affected the outcome of the experiment or not (using the metallic one), but I didn't have the heart to tell her to put it back. She also helped me get the yarn to tie the hearts onto the popsicle stick we used to hang the hearts across the jar.
As the water was boiling, we measured out the Borax into a cup to dump into the Mason jar. I made sure I was very careful with this project. After all, we were using boiling water and Borax. I did take E close to the pan on the stove to discuss once again the recent activities we had performed to see water as a solid, liquid, and now a gas. We talked about how we could tell the water was boiling, and how it is important to never go near the stove unless she asks Mommy and Mommy helps her.
We finally got the mixture all ready to go, and set it up to see the crystals form throughout the day. Unfortunately, about five hours in, we still didn't see any crystals. So, I added a little more Borax. The crystals started forming almost immediately.
Monday, February 13, 2012
I love the busy bags it seems everyone has some version of posted online, but this filler activity can be something that doesn't fit so well in a bag, too. Today I took this desk supply organizer that I bought at a garage sale last week for $.50, put colored scrap book paper in the divided trays at the top, and put a bunch of different colored "things" in the bottom tray.
When E came out from her nap, I showed her what to do, and set her free to do it. She seemed to enjoy playing with the "things" more than sorting them. But, I think with continued practice, I will be able to squeak out another 10 minutes or so to finish up my nap time projects.
Friday, February 10, 2012
We started this activity by putting water in clear cups, and adding the primary food colors to each cup. We then worked together to mix the primary colors to make the secondary colors. Our green color didn't turn out great, but E loved seeing the transformation of the two colors into something new.
We then put the colored water into ice cube trays to freeze for the next activity. I tried to use the words "liquid," "solid," and "freeze" in this step.
The next day, we pulled one of each color of ice cube out of the tray to put back into the clear cups. We then took them to the bathtub to let the real fun begin!
In the bathtub, we focused on the ideas of "melting" and "liquid" once again as E played with the ice cubes. She loved chasing them around the bath until they disappeared completely. She also loved the sensory aspect of putting the ice cubes on her toes and feeling the hot and cold simultaneously.
Thursday, February 9, 2012
Today we read the book I Like It When... by Mary Murphy. As the title and cover imply, the book is about actions that make the baby penguin and parent penguin happy, such as holding hands, helping around the house, and reading stories. We read the book, and then went through the book a second time with E reading to me, using the pictures to help guide her. No...she is not able to actually read YET, but she practices all those other literacy and comprehension skills every single day. You would be amazed at how many middle school and high school students I have worked with over the years who do not have skills like using graphics to help further understanding and rereading to help solidify comprehension.
We then did a journal entry where E answered questions (and I wrote the answers) to finish the statements "I like it when Mommy/Daddy/our dog/my friends..." Her answers are surprising, hilarious, and simple. Try it for yourself!
Kids love bubbles. Carefree moms love bubbles. I love bubbles once they are in the air, but I HATE the stickiness and mess that blowing bubbles can create. So, I have two solutions. One is a battery operated bubble blower. I think this should be on every mom's essential toy list. Ours (as you can see in the background of the picture) is Manely the Lion.
Bringing Manely indoors when the winter weather began to arrive was a great decision. During bath time, E and I love listening to the bubbles and enjoying the smiles bubbles inevitably bring. Recently, I added a regular container of bubbles to the bath, as well. Typically, these little bottles of stickiness and spills would make me cringe, but in the bath, who cares? It is truly the best of both worlds. Plus, I'm helping the no-mess risk practice of blowing bubbles in the bath will translate into bubble blowing being a mastered skill once spring comes!
Tuesday, February 7, 2012
When I went to initially pick out our bin, I wanted something relatively large, so I went with the lidded Sterilite 35 quart container. I'm not a huge fan of messes or messy things, so I knew there would need to be a balance between having interesting contents and being able to clean them up quickly and easily. As many of the internet resources suggest, I put down a large tablecloth under the bin to easily gather the small pieces (in this case rice and beans) that fall on the floor. So, if you don't' have a tarp, blanket, or table cloth to use under your bin, be sure to pick one up.
When I went out shopping for the contents of the bin, I knew lots of people use fillers like beans and rice as the base, then add in objects from there. I wanted this bin to be Valentine's day colors, so I used dried white beans (2 medium bags), rice my daughter helped me color pink (take 4 cups of rice, a tablespoon of rubbing alcohol, and food coloring-- mix in a large bowl or bag, then lay out to dry overnight on a foil covered cookie sheet). I plan to save and eventually reuse these filler items.
I also wanted to gather an assortment of "tools" for the bins. For this bin I purchased tweezers, tongs, magnifying glasses, and pieces of PVC pipe which will be kept to be used only for these sensory bins. I don't want to have an eyebrow emergency and have to go digging through rice to find my tweezers, so I spent the dollar for E to have her own! Also, I probably won't let her play with these items outside of the bins to keep them fun and fresh when she does get bin time.
Here is what the bin looked like preplay! Other items include plastic heart ornaments and the plastic bottom they came in, a shoelace, a feather rose, a heart-shaped touch light, an empty salt shaker, a potato masher, red metallic fill, a pink ball, conversation hearts (she doesn't know they are edible, so they worked out just fine as a toy...if she finds out they are candy, I will probably have to take them out) in a pink plastic container, white silk flower pedals, and a mouse that says phrases about how much he likes you.
The only rule we may need to add for the next bin (depending on the contents) is that feet do not go in the bin. E wanted to step into the bin to see how the rice and beans felt on her feet, and I allowed it. She loved having her toes buried in the filler and wiggling them out.
Monday, February 6, 2012
The first unit we are beginning is Exploring Valentine's Day and Emotions. I like the idea of introducing a big concept first, then going from there. I began by talking with E about the idea of feeling and emotions, giving her examples of times she has felt happy and sad, then giving some examples of times I have had more complex emotions which she has witnessed (and probably caused) like frustration and excitement.
Next, we used these cards (a past gift from her Gigi) to explore the concept a little more. The cards show little scenarios that express an emotion, with the opposite emotion on the back. E can tell the difference between a positive and negative expression/emotion, but has a small vocabulary when it comes to being specific about what they are feeling. That is something pretty simple for us to work on.