Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Springtime- The (Basic) Science of Rain

With the days of rain we have been experiencing, I thought it was the perfect time to do the cloud activity I have seen posted on Pinterest from a few different places. For this experiment, you will need at least shaving cream, blue colored water, a clear container filled 2/3 with water, and one pipette. We have some extra materials because I planned on transitioning this activity into an art activity, using the pipettes and colored water to color coffee filters and paper towels to make butterflies, but E wasn't into the art portion, so we scrapped that.

We started by talking about how the sky looked, sunny or cloudy, on this rainy day. Once we observed it was cloudy, we made our own cloud of shaving cream on the water already in the clear container. E then used those small motor skills to transfer the blue water (rain) into the cloud. We talked about how clouds are made of water, and how when the clouds get too heavy, it starts to rain.

Eventually, as E continued adding the heavy water to the cloud, it started to rain in the jar. What a simple and fun lesson in weather.

E then added some other colors, just for fun, but became more interested in the shaving cream than anything else, so I gave a her a couple of squirts in the sink, set the rule that shaving cream was not allowed anywhere but in the sink and on her hands, and set her free to play. I eventually added ice cubes to the sink (I cleaned out the ice cube trays to make colored ice cubes with the left over colored water for bath time play) and some water. I guess the butterfly art project will have to happen another day when the shaving cream is out of sight and mind!

Springtime- Matching Cling Activity

I found this great sheet of clings at the dollar store and thought it would be perfect to use to help match the season name with the signs of the season. We first spread out the word clings on the window. Notice the horrible weather outside!

Then, E began pulling the picture clings off of the sheet to group with the words. Since she can't read (yet!), I had to do a lot of reminding about what each season word said, and we had to talk about what we read and about the seasons in the book, as well as discussing our own experiences ("Today is the first day of spring. Could we go out and build a snowman today? Do you remember when we played in the snow? What season does snow happen?).

If I was to do this activity all over again, I would probably talk about each season individually. For example, I would have E pick a word cling, then I would ask E to find the clings that go along with that season. Changing the activity just a little would help to eliminate the challenge of the word clings being confusing for a nonreader. I'm sure we will enjoy these clings over and over.

Springtime- Book and Fishing for Letters

After having a few days away from "formal" activities (instead we were actually outside enjoying the very springtime weather), we were stuck inside when the March downpours arrived! So, we got back on track with the nonfiction book, Every Season by Shelley Rotner and Anne Love Woodhull. It is filled with great photos from each of the four seasons showing popular seasonal activities and how nature looks in each of those seasons.

After reading the book, we moved over to our fishing pond I set up while E was napping. It is a colorful beach towel covered with the magnetic letters needed to spell each of the four seasons. Also, I put a magnet at the end of the fishing pole so E could use the pole to catch the letters she needed to spell the words from the clings (see next post) she was using to practice her letter identification.

Catching the letters were more difficult than what I anticipated. A lot of the time E was sitting on my lap and we worked through it as a together activity. My advice would be to spread the letters out as much as possible on the pond. It is definitely a great lesson in motor skills and hand-eye coordination!

Also, if you take a peak at the fridge, E made a little pattern of her own with her letters and magnets. It was interesting to see her make the pattern on her own! What a fun rainy day activity!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Springtime- Scavenger Hunt

Pinterest pages have been filled with the great idea of using an egg carton as a place to collect items on a spring scavenger hunt. So, I drew up a sheet of items that I thought we would be able to find on our walk through the park. I went over the items on the sheet (my drawings aren't the best) with E, and off we went to look for: a brown leaf, a rock, a stick, a yellow flower, a feather, a brown weed, green grass, a green leaf, a piece of bark or mulch, berries, a purple flower, and a pine needle.

Going on this walk was a great way to talk about the big ideas of the unit such as the grass growing green, the trees budding, bugs reappearing, etc. I would occasionally review the items on the list when they would come into view. E did a great job of collecting and exploring.We went through an old "barn" at the park, and E paused for a pic by the fence. Spring is definitely in the air in this pic!
Here E is getting a brown leaf to put into her egg carton from a tree that didn't drop its leaves the fall before. By the end of the walk, we found 10 of 12 items, and we had a great time in the process!

Springtime- Sensory Bin

Over the last couple of weeks, our family has been hit with a few minor illnesses that have lead to a lot of the activities I had planned to finish up The Five Senses Unit on tbeing left on the back burner. And, I realized that I am ready to move on and not try to finish them up, so today, I jumped in with two feet to some prep and activities for our next unit, Springtime! Our weather is supposed to be in the 70s and 80s all week, so I am afraid if I put this off too long, I won't be able to actually do the spring activities I want to do in conjunction with this unit such as planting our seedlings for our garden plants, scouting bird nests, paying attention to the return of the bugs, turtles, and other lifeforms absent from the winter, watching the yards and trees green up, etc.
For this sensory bin, I have focused on the idea of planting. The items include: dried split peas, green pasta tubes, green pasta sticks, mini decorator balls covered with moss (all of these items are to represent the greening up of the outdoors), tan felt, coffee beans (to represent dirt), sunflower seeds (to plant), a watering can filled with blue ribbon pieces, a fork and spoon for digging, candy flowers (that E does not know are candy) a magnifying class, a funnel, an embroidery hoop, and a few containers. I can't wait for her to get to play with it!

Fun with Chores! Sock Sorting

E has been helping me do laundry for almost a year now. In our previous home, there was a counter where she was able to stand to help to dump the soap and load clothes into the washing machine. Once we moved and no longer have the counter, her help has been transferring clothes from the washer to the dryer and, more recently, helping to sort her underwear from socks, match her socks together, and put those items into the correct drawers. Since I hate matching socks, I love that she is able to really help! And, it is even a great activity to build those kindergarten readiness skills in the sense that she is looking for patterns, using those small motor skills, and paying attention to the physical properties of her clothes. I know there are probably people out there who think she is too young to be expected to help like this, but if you saw the look on her face when she accomplishes this task, you would be a believer, too!

Filler Activity- Measurement

The materials for this post were the ones we used a couple of activities ago when we were working on texture. When I cut the ribbons, I made sure there there were some the length of a Popsicle stick or shorter and ones longer than the Popsicle stick (which acted as our measuring stick). We started out the activity talking about what longer and shorter meant, and we did a couple of examples together.

Then, I set E free to determine if each ribbon was longer or shorter than the measuring stick. She struggled some with this activity. I think she may have been getting confused if she was supposed to be comparing the length of last ribbon to the one she was measuring instead of always comparing to the stick. This will definitely be a concept we revisit very soon!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Filler Activity- Getting Organized

So lately, I have been obsessed by the idea of busy bags. I love that they are self-contained activities, educational, and, for the most part, child directed. Then, I started thinking about how many toys and activities E already has that fit the same criteria, but don't exactly fit in a bag. So, I went room to room in our house, and I created a list of activities that could fill the same role for transition activities and filling time as what busy bags do. The list ended up having about 25 items. I also kept track of the activities that will require a little bit more Momtervention. I wrote them all down on craft sticks to keep in a container, writing the self-directed activities in black and the activities that require Mommy in orange.

I put the sicks into this pretty little holder I made using an old stuffing container, some scrapbook paper, and letter stickers. I am so excited to have these activities names organized in one place, including the busy bags I have already made . And, even when I give into my temptations to make busy bags, it will be easy to make sure they don't overlap activities E already has because I have gotten our activities organized!

I definitely think that I will duplicate this activity as we continue spending more time outside, as well, for the activities and games we have out there.

Book Worth Sharing- Mommy Version

Every free minute I have had over the last week, I have been reading the book Nurture Shock by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman. Because I am a Learn as I Go Mom, I enjoy reading books that help me as a parent and educator. I am also a bit of a skeptic, so this book was a perfect combination of science and evidence-based looks at topics such as praise, sleep, race, lying, gifted programs, sibling relationships, teenage conflict, motivation, concentration, violence on TV, and vocabulary development.

Although this book is dense with scientific talk and citations, the common parenting and teaching myths the book looks at, at, in many cases debunks, are insightful and enlightening. The authors also do a great job of presenting the facts then telling what it all means in a practical sense, including application of the findings with their own families. This book has definitely made me think twice about some parenting decisions I have and will make. It also makes me think about ways I could have and will help my students. I highly recommend this book to any educator or parent of kids of any age.

Filler Activity- Loaded Desk

Over the weekend, we were planning on taking a road trip (about four hours in the car), so I loaded up this desk with items for E to play with in the car. Unfortunately, the stomach bug got the best of this mom, and we ended up not going :(. Instead, this loaded up desk became a great filler activity for me when I was more interested in doing nothing than planning and executing activities for E. I know it would have been great in the car, too, because it held her attention for about 30 to 40 minutes.

So, what's in the desk? Here is a list: ColorWonder markers and drawing pad, dress up doll stickers and paper to put them on, a Velcro shape activity book (with a CD that would have been great for the car), a couple of books, a Colorform type habitat and cling page, pony beads and pipe cleaners, and a snack.

Obviously, this is nothing super unique or special, but it is very useful for a car trip or to fill a little time when Mommy is feeling under the weather.

Friday, March 2, 2012

The Five Senses- Review and Phonics Activity

For the first part of this activity, I created two sets of note cards, one set with the five senses written out, and the other set with pictures of the body part used for those senses. I had also picked up the rubber face puppet that E is holding to use with this activity. I used the funny puppet to read the letters and then the words on the cards to E using a fun voice. It was her job to match the picture card with the word card. This acted as a review for all that we have been talking about. Some of my pictures were not so great, so the puppet would ask her to point to his body part if she was confused by the picture. E enjoyed the puppet part of this very much, and matched up all the cards between giggles.For the second part of this activity, I had sorted through a box of lettered short bread cookies to find the letters that match up with the senses words on the cards a few days beforehand. E then would take a cookie our of the container, tell me the letter, and look for a letter to match it up with. We had never done an activity like this before, but she did a great job. She had a few letters she didn't know, and a couple she couldn't match up, but I was very surprised with how easily she accomplished this task. Of course, she kept asking if she could eat a cookie.

And, as she completed a word, I did let her eat the cookies for that word. I love the built in motivation and reward of this activity! What a fun and productive half hour!

The Five Senses- Touch Card Making

E's best friend and cousin is turning four in a couple of weeks, and I saw the idea of making a birthday cake with a hand print on Pinterest. I thought having E make a card for her using the hand print would be a fun activity that uses the sense of touch. E picked out all of the colors for the different parts (the pink and blue make up the cake, the white is for the candles, and the flames on the candles are a mixture of yellow and orange), and I painted her hands using round stencil brushes and regular paint brushes. There was a lot of giggling from the tickling the brushng caused on her hands. We left the thumb blank for this activity so that the palm would be the cake and the four fingers would be the four candles on the cake. We made two prints (which I didn't take a picture of :().

After the prints dried, E decorated around the handprint with sticker fours. She then put happy birthday stickers and balloons on the inside. I helped her to write her cousin's name and her name on the inside of the card. Finally, she practiced her letter identification by using letter stickers to label the outside of the card.

I cut out the second print to make the tag for the package. The prints came out very cute, and E loved working on this project for her best friend.

Filler Activity- Dr. Suess' Birthday!

After a visit to the library where we learned about and discussed Dr. Seuss and his works, we pulled out a couple of Dr. Seuss books to celebrate his birthday. There are some other amazing activities to go along with his birthday out on Pinterest, but we decided to keep it simple...this time.