Sunday, January 27, 2013

Nursery Rhymes

Here's a video of the version of Hickory Dickory Dock we're reading this week to help us work on our counting and rhyming skills:

Friday, January 25, 2013

Fairy Tales

What a fun 3 days we had with this unit! I seriously could have done 3 more weeks, there is so much fun stuff to do with Fairy Tales. Due to a nasty inversion and gross air, we stayed inside which gets a restless. To switch things up a little, we started each day with a cooking activity, then went on to self-select time. That allows their "play" time to go a little longer, then snack and large group and we're done, and they don't really notice they're missing that time outside. They LOVE cooking and had lots of fun with the things we made. They all get so involved in it and love to help and eat. On to our week, it's easiest to share what we did with each Fairy Tale, other than by centers (except dramatic play that stayed the same), so here's a quick round up.

Dramatic Play
We had a castle that was just too much fun. Thanks to my sister for all the dress-ups! The girls loved playing princesses. There were also costumes for fairies, jesters, knights, princes and kings. Everyone loved the swords and shields and horses, and I loved that the girls used them too. We even had boys wearing high heels. It's fun to see them get creative and bend the gender rules a bit.
The mirror was a hit with the dress-ups. It even had kiss marks left on it. Sad I missed who was kissing themselves. I forgot to get a pic of the inside, but there were pictures of different characters they could be on the inside walls, with the coordinating dress-ups in a box below it. We still had the kitchen inside too, since princesses need to eat!
p.s. the cheap spray paint at Wal-Mart is cheap. I'll be re-painting this one.

Ok, now on to the different stories we read:

The Gingerbread Man
We made sugar cookie dough and cut them into gingerbread men for snack today. I just don't like gingerbread, which is why we did the sugar cookies. Then, after clean up time and before snack, we read the story together. They enjoyed pitching in with the chant "Run, run, as fast as you can. You can't catch me, I'm the Gingerbread Man!" We then decorated and ate our gingerbread men.
The next day, they did a floor puzzle of The Gingerbread Man and I was amazed at how well they remembered the story, as several of them gathered around the puzzle and re told it. I also read the book over and over again through out self-select time the next 2 days, because they just couldn't get enough of this story.

The Tortoise and the Hare
We read this story the first day in large group, and then acted it out. We did it 2 different times, so all the kids got turns. They were great at retelling it. We then learned about opposites (from the fast and slow in the story). We acted out opposites, sang a song with opposites, and put together some opposites puzzles.
The puzzle was in the small manipulatives area the next day and we reviewed a lot more opposites!

Goldilocks and the 3 Bears
Before snack, we gathered to read this story. We had porridge for snack (malt o meal hot cereal) and I was surprised that only 1 child didn't like it, but she did taste it twice to make sure, and I think that's great. Most kids had seconds and some had thirds. Who knew hot wheat cereal would be such a hit?
We also acted out this story with masks later. They loved doing the high and low voices.

Jack and the Beanstalk
This was a fun story to read because I have so many fun things to go with it. I picked up at activity box a few years ago at UEA and it was a huge hit! We read the story on the big story cards first. Then, I played the musical version on the CD player and they were dancing and singing along. They caught onto the chorus quickly! We then retold the story with wood figures and I barely had to ask what came next, they all remembered with no reminders! Some even knew the lines their characters said. They asked for the song version again, so we played it while they danced with their wood characters and said their parts. I was so impressed.
We then read a giant letter we got from the Giant! He left us some big outlines of his feet, and we used them to measure things around the room. We found things that were bigger, smaller, and close to the same size. It was a great math lesson that they really got into.
That was Wednesday, and the next Wednesday, I had this all in the small manips area. They put the cards in the correct order of the story (great sequencing!), retold the story with each other with the wood people (awesome reading comprehension!), and also just played with the characters with each other  (great socializing!). They replayed the song version over and over, dancing and singing (so much learning!). I seriously watched them do these things, with very little prodding and help from me, and was again impressed at their comprehension and memory over a week's time.
We also did bean collages for art, where they got to glue different types of beans to their paper. They sure do love playing with white glue!

The Little Red Hen
We started the day making bread, which requires patience because of all the different stages of rising. They all pitched in and helped. We learn so many great math and science skills when we cook together, not to mention learning to take turns and a little patience. Before snack, we gathered to read the story of the Little Red Hen.  I had wheat and wheat flour for them to feel (and they all had to smell it) and we talked about why it's important to help. We then ate yummy wheat bread I made before since ours was still rising, and most tried it with both jelly and honey. Can't have too much sweet, I guess.

3 Little Pigs
For large group, we read the story, then acted it out again. The kids all loved huffing and puffing and blowing. We only had enough time to do it once, but it was perfect because we had roles for everyone, as some kids were the houses.

I'll talk more about this in the next post, but during Nursery Rhyme week, we had a puppet theater, so I added the stick puppets and masks we had used to retell most of these stories (Tortoise, Jack, Bears, Pigs and Hen), and it was fun to see them retell them again. I said it too much already, but I am so impressed with their comprehension as they retold and acted out these stories. That's probably why I enjoyed this unit so much.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Winter Week

We had a lot of fun the last 2 weeks learning about winter. Too bad it was so bitterly cold and nasty outside that we never actually got to go outside and enjoy some snow. Oh well. Here are some of our Winter Week highlights: 
Epsom Salt Painting
The kids drew snowy scenes on black paper with white crayons, then painted over them with an Epsom Salt/water mixture. They were so excited to come back and see their crystals. They turned out pretty cool! They were all so different since each bowl on the table had a little different amount of salt in the water.

Frozen Paint 
They LOVED this! We had talked the days before about things being frozen, then melting, and they loved having frozen, cold paint. It kind of colored like a crayon on the first few pictures, then as it melted, turned more into a liquid. They were talking about why it was melting and changing and it was a great integration of science in art. As the sticks fell off, most of the kids lost interest and went on to play elsewhere, but I had one girl stay all day! She turned it into finger painting, and I got her some regular brushes. Soon, the kids saw how much fun she was having and joined back in. We had some messy messy kids, but it was great fun and I was glad to have it be extended since we haven't had outside time. :(

I brought this back from our Arctic Animals week and it was a hit!

Snowman Button Counting
I had these snowman cards 1-30 from Kinder, and pulled out the 1-10 for these kids. Their hats have a number and the kids place buttons on the snowman to match the number. I added the dots on the snowmen to help them count since they need more help with tracking at this age.

Snowflake Flyswatter Game
We did this game for large group, then it was out and the kids played it on their own the next 2 days. I showed a card with the number, and they had to find it and hit it with the fly swatter. Pretty easy, but the fly swatter part makes it a lot of fun for them. It was fun watching them play it on their own and taking turns being the teacher and showing the cards.
Pegs and Puzzles

I think it's pretty self-explanatory for how cool these puzzles are for teaching numbers and their meaning.   
The boys used the pegs to make light sabers and fought instead. Oh well, at least they used them.
Mitten Clothesline
Didn't get pictures, but I had paper mittens that are laminated and have numbers and letters on them, each set is a different color. The kids put them on the clothesline in numerical and alphabetical order. It's great practice in number and letter recognition and ordering, plus great small motor exercise, using the clothespins.

We learned the word "coniferous" and sorted pictures of trees by coniferous and deciduous. They are understandably not great at pronouncing the words, but they know what they mean!
We also reviewed our other vocabulary words from the past 3-4 weeks and added them to our Word Wall. They are great at finding the letters where the new words go and love helping add them to the wall.
We did a lot of science this week in talking about winter. We talked about frozen solid things, and liquid things. We collected snow outside, made observations about how it looked and felt (and tasted because we're 3 and have to still taste things I guess). We then made predictions about what would happen to it in front of our heater. We also let some melt in our hands and noticed that our warm hands made the snow turn into water. Our can of snow also melted into water, due to heat. These lessons seem so simple to us, but it's so fun to see these discoveries through the eyes of 3-year-olds. They were seriously impressed with this lesson, and then stoked to see frozen paint and were just sure it would melt in our warm classroom. These scientists are smart!
We also did another Venn diagram, comparing summer and winter. They sure are looking forward to some warm weather fun!
We sang a lot of fun songs too! We threw snowflakes all over and sang "Snow is Falling" and did their favorite one over and over, "Once There was a Snowman." Here's the lyrics to both in case you need them:
Snow is Falling
Snow is falling all around,
on the rooftops, on the ground.
Snow is falling on my nose,
on my head, and hands and toes.

Once There was a Snowman
Once there was a snowman, snowman, snowman,
Once there was a snowman, tall, tall tall.
In the sun he melted, melted, melted,
in the sun he melted, small, small, small.