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.