Thursday, April 23, 2009

O is for Ocean

This week, we learned about oceans. We learned that oceans are not only full of water, but also of fish, plants, sand, shells, and rocks.

On Tuesday, we read "Commotion in the Ocean", which talks about all the different animals we can find in the ocean. We then learned the ASL signs for fish, star fish, whale, dolphin, shark, octopus, crab, lobster. Then we played a fishing game to help us remember the signs: Each child took turns fishing (pulling out) an ocean animal from a big fish net. Then the child would show the animal and perform the correct sign. The other children would then copy the sign. The children pulled out a variety of fish, shark, dolphin, star fish, sea horse, crab, whale, octopus, sea turtle. If you'd like to practice these signs with your children, I'm sure you could find them on the internet or you could borrow our DVD that has them.

For our craft, we filled shaped bottles with layers of colored sand. Andrew and PKB chose castles, Henry chose a tiger, Sadie chose a fish, Moriah chose a sun, and Ella chose an elephant. We talked about taking turns as I could only help two children at a time. They did a great job taking turns! The children chose which sand colors to use, how much to put in, and they each scooped their sand and placed it in the funnel to fill their tiny bottles. Colored string was then attached to each bottle cap to turn the craft into a heavy necklace. This craft was ideal for the children because they were able to do it all on their own (with minimal supervision).

The most important thing we did in Tuesday's preschool was sing Happy Birthday to Henry. Henry turned 3 and he was very excited to share his cupcakes with all of his little preschool friends. HAPPY BIRTHDAY Henry!

On Thursday, we continued learning about the Ocean. We read "A Fish Out of Water" and talked about the importance of water for fish. We reviewed the contents of an ocean and touched many different items that can be found in an ocean: several different shells (different sizes and shapes and colors), sea cucumbers, tumbled rocks, sand dollars, and coral. The children felt each object, said whether it was smooth, bumpy, prickly, scratchy... We talked about how each of these items (except for the rocks) had once been living in an ocean. Little animals inhabited the shells, the coral was once a vibrant color beautifying reefs, the sea cucumbers feel soft and spongy when alive in the water. We proceeded to make personal mini aquariums. We picked grass to use for aquarium plants. We put a layer of sand in our aquarium bottles. Next, each child picked 4 small sea shells. Then they each picked 3-4 small shells of a different variety. Then each child chose a larger shell--again, a different variety. Each child chose a small tumbled rock to add to the aquarium, as well as several pinches of grass. Next, each child added two Swedish fish to the aquarium. (I thought about real fish, but knew they wouldn't live very long.) Every child hesitated adding the candy fish to the sand and shells, so I made a deal with them: add a fish then eat the other. We did that twice so each child could have two fish in their aquarium. We didn't want any single fish to be lonely and without a friend. Finally, the children declared we needed water to make a little ocean. In went the water and I quickly sealed each mini aquarium. The children were delighted and wanted to hold their mini aquariums for the duration of preschool. I, having learned my lesson on Tuesday (discussion below), collected the aquariums promising to return them when the mothers arrived.

O is also for Obedience. Both Tuesday and Thursday we talked about Obedience. Thursday we played Mother May I, but the concept of obeying and why we need to obey still seemed to elude the children. But thanks to unplanned events on both Tuesday and Thursday, we got to talk about consequences of not obeying. This really helped the children understand (at least for the moment) why there are rules and why they are asked to obey.

On Tuesday, after the first children filled their bottles with the layers of colored sand, I instructed them to hold them carefully and above all, to not take the caps off or all the sand would come out. On the balcony, I continued helping two children at a time to fill their bottles with sand. When almost finished, several children exclaimed that Henry's sand was all over the floor. Poor Henry, his bottle was on the floor, the cap to the side, and the sand scattered in between the two. He said he had shaken his bottle, perhaps with the cap off. The children's eyes were large--"so this is why we aren't supposed to take the cap off," they must have been thinking. All the children and I discussed rules and reasons, and consequences briefly. I told Henry that if he could help clean up the sand, we could refill his bottle so it could be beautiful again. He did a great job vacuuming the sand and all the children knew that if the opened or broke their bottles, their pretty sand would drain out. No child tried to open his or her bottle after that. Thank you Henry for that great lesson on consequences and having a positive attitude about accepting the consequence of cleaning up.

We had a similar impromptu lesson on consequences on Thursday. After distributing the glass jars for the mini aquariums, I passed out tumbled rocks and shells for the children to feel. I told the children not to drop the heavy, hard rocks into the glass jars because the impact could break the glass jar. Every child did just that several times--dropping the rock into the glass jar. I again gave the children the rule that the large rock had to sit next to the glass jar, that they could not drop or throw it into the jar as this could break the jar (the consequence). Sadie again took the rock and dropped (with some force) the rock into the glass jar. The jar broke and all the children looked at me wide eyed. "Wow! It really will break the jar if we drop these big rocks into the little glass jars," they seemed to be thinking. Again we talked about obedience and consequences. Following the discussion, Sadie promised to be obedient and all the children were perfect at obeying and asking if items could be placed in the jar and whether it would break the jar. Great lesson. Hopefully it is remembered for a while.

We a great time.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Ducks: Waterproof, Migratory and Obedient

We learned three facts about ducks today, and then we made our own paper ducks out of different geometric shapes (most of which most of the kids could identify). All of the kids did all their own gluing, except Sadie, who just was not that interested when there were other toys around!
We learned that ducks follow their moms everywhere and always obey their words. We played a game about this that devolved into just racing around the center of the house. I would alternate between being the Mommy Duck and being a Bad Fox. My cue to transform would be the fear level of the children. Henry went from excited to almost in tears. Then he became the Fox, which was must less scary for him.
We also learned that ducks are waterproof ("They can't get wet") even though they spend much of their time in the water. We learned that this is because they have oil glands at the base of their tails that the ducks stroke to spread oil ("preening") all over their bodies.
We conducted an experiment in which the kids used droppers to coat some feathers in oil and then other droppers for water. We saw that the oil repelled the water. (This is what Grace and Henry are doing here.)
The third duck fact we learned was that ducks migrate.
They fly from Virginia down to South America when it gets cold here. They come back when it gets warm again. We talked how it is winter in South America when it is summer here, and the birds fly back and forth to escape the cold.
We used the globe to show the continents. All the kids were excited about it, but not enough to remain for the entire lesson. Henry is not pictured here bc he was riding the trike I have in my kitchen. All the kids took a turn doing this.
Moriah was very concerned about Will and tended to him very gently. She was a nice little mother to him.
The only activity that every participated in 100% was the playdough at the very beginning. Sadie started a game wherein the cars she brought to the table were stuck in the mud. All the kids copied.
Except Peekaboo, who made a cake. She offered it to Henry, who was disgusted.
The kids were a lot of fun. I over-planned, once again, and we didn't have enough time to get outside. I tried to take them out, but it was too much to get them all ready. Henry got himself entirely dressed, though, and let himself out into the backyard where he collected some prickly balls. He amiably returned. It was very cute.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

L is for Learning -- March 3, 2009

We had a great time learning about Learning. We talked about all the things they have learned to do now that they are big kids. Andrew demonstrated how to throw a football: fingers on the laces. We had a fun time throwing and catching. PKB offered that she has learned how to do a princess dance and demonstrated her dancing grace to us all. Sadie showed how silly she can be. And Moriah said she learned to use the restroom. Each child showed how they had learned balance--they each balanced on just one foot!

We then talked about learning to help in the kitchen. The children helped to make bread. They each rolled dough to form individual loaves. Next, they made "surprise" bread by kneading in raisins and chocolate chips, then rolling it into a mini loaf. After the dough had risen and everyone touched the dough to feel the springyness of risen dough, the children "painted" the dough with an egg wash and to "glue" on the colored sugar we used to decorate the loaves of bread. The children learned that bread has to bake in a hot oven (350 degrees F.) and that bread is cooked when it is brown with an internal temperature of 190 degrees F. They were great chefs!

Although they were proud of their bread creation, they all seemed to prefer their lolly-pop (L is for lolly-pop) more than the bread.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

January: Snow

We had two days in a row (due to snow and holidays) for preschool this week, and I think it was better for it because it provided some continuity. We focused on the physical properties of snow and conducted a few experiments with transforming water into ice and snow into water.
We also talked about how people and animals acclimate to winter and snow. We learned about igloos (Henry knew what the picture of the igloo was before we talked about it.) and then made igloos out of sugar cubes and frosting. Only a few of the kids were interested in doing that craft, and since it required my supervision, I didn't force the unwilling. We also made snowmen from marshmellows.
We made a life-size fort-style igloo with a sheet. The kids loved this and went back to it during free-play. They brought chairs in, which they fought over.
On day one, we went on a snow walk, which Andrew loved, Sadie enjoyed and which horrified Ella and Peekaboo. The girls were very afraid to walk in the icy conditions. We stayed out long enough to collect our ziplock bag of snow. We put the baggies on the counter while we read Snow Day (Ezra Keats) and Animals in Winter. Afterwards we went to see how our snow was doing. We talked about the melting process. We also filled plastic containers with water and a plastic toy. We then put the water in the freezer overnight to see what would happen the next day.
On day two, the kids used tools to excavate the toys from the ice. We talked about the freezing process.
I would highly recommend buying the book Animals in Winter. It was written in the 1960s, so it was hard to track down at the library (only Centreville had it). It was all about what animals do to survive the winter, including migration, hibernation, food storage and hunting.
The book ends with a discussion of things people can do to help animals in wintertime. We made bird-feeders from pinecones and peanut butter rolled in birdseed. Peekaboo was hilarious about this part, saying that she did not want to help the birds. I think she was just hungry for the popcorn we were eating.

Playdough was a big hit.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Week 8: Thanksgiving Feast

This week we read the story of the first Thanksgiving. Then the children attempted to reinact the event.
Without exception, each and every child tried to eat the raw corn (on the cob) that I set out as part of the feast.
They all seemed pretty happy to wear their headgear.
We also made our own cornbread for our snack (from a box). The children took turns dumping in the mix and milk. I believe that I also allowed someone to operate the hand-held mixer. Sometimes I can really lack judgment if a child is very persisitant about trying a new experience. But no one got hurt.
I think we also did a hand-print turkey craft. We used ink instead of paint bc it is much easier, but you do have to have a wipe handy if the child cannot be trusted to go directly to the sink to wash up. They were pretty good about this, actually.
We also sang some fun Thanksgiving songs like "Hello Mr. Turkey, How are You." They loved singing perhaps the most of everything we did.

I thought they looked great in their costumes. I do have more photos on my computer. Shall I post them all, or should I send out an email with the rest?

Monday, November 3, 2008

Week Six: Letter H

Thank you to everyone for switching to Thursday. The funny thing is that after all that planning and maneuvering, the guys never came to "seal coat" our roads!! I was pretty peeved seeing that we got up early that morning to move our car to "little blake" so we wouldn't get towed. Oh well. What's important is that the kids had a great morning. We learned about the letter H and as a value we learned about "Helping." All the kids had fun taking turns as we pulled objects out of the Halloween bag that start with the letter H. I thought they would want to see how the objects are spelled but they were more into playing with all the treasures in the bag.

We read some books about the letter H. One of my personal favorites is "Hug Time." If you haven't read should. It's adorable. We then segmented into our value of helping by reading "Herman the Helper" and we talked about how helping makes everyone happy. We then moved on to our craft where we made some Halloween Hats. Everyone was very excited about the stickers they could place all over the hat. I had cut out the initials for every one's name and smart little Andrew handed them out correctly to everyone. I was pretty impressed that he knew what letter each child's name began with. We then headed downstairs to have some free movement or what I called "adventure time."
It was funny to see the difference between the girls and boys. I brought down their letter H papers to color and we traced their hands to make a picture of "helping hands." The girls were totally into coloring and tracing. Once I taught them how to trace their hands, Moriah and Ella asked to do it themselves. They did a pretty good job. The boys, on the other hand, I practically had to peel away from our train table and trains. I finally got them to come over once basketball stickers were involved. Sadie was more interested in the boys playing with HER trains. Good job Sadie letting them play with out having a tantrum.

When we went back upstairs to have snack time we all "helped" clean up the toys before leaving. Upstairs we had Halloween muffins (thanks for the recipe Erin) which are actually pumpkin muffins but I wanted to emphasise the H.
I stepped back and listened to all of them talking at our adult table. They looked like they were at a regular dinner party talking about the economy and upcoming elections. Of course their conversation consisted of Halloween costumes and what color their plates were. Henry was so cute. I gave him a orange plate and orange cup and he said..."oh look..they match." These kids are all so smart. They all said something to totally crack me up but of course I can't remember all the details. When they were done with their snack we each took turns helping clean our dish (thanks for the idea Alexandra). They all thought that was pretty fun. When you came to get them we were all dancing downstairs again. What a fun bunch!! Here's Henry getting tickled. Sadie was leaning over and tickling Henry through out snack time. Andrew didn't want to miss out on any of the fun and went right over to give Henry a good dose of giggles.