Saturday, April 27, 2013

more chrysalides

So, 3 changed Thursday, the next on Friday, and the last on Saturday. Here they are, ready to be transferred to the net.

Friday, April 26, 2013

more chrysalides

I learned the plural form of chrysalis....chrysalide. We added a 4th chrysalis today, and our 5th guy finally hung upside down. I've been checking for change, hoping to catch some of it, but nothing. They all seem to just magically do it over night! If you look close at the pics (which I know aren't great, but the camera wants to focus on the background instead) you can see the 4th guy has hid shedded skin still stuck to him. Pretty cool stuff. 7-10 days and they'll start hatching!

Thursday, April 25, 2013


You can see the most fun we had in our bug unit was with our caterpillars turning into butterflies. It was seriously amazing to watch and I may have loved it more than the kids did. But I'm pretty sure they loved it too and learned a lot.
To learn more about the butterfly life cycle, we recreated the life cycle with pasta. This was such a fun activity because I could tell how much they've grown. They all followed directions really well and really understood what we were doing and could tell me what came next. So impressed.
We also read The Very Hungry Caterpillar (a fave book of mine and super popular). I have puzzles, a board game, and a story board to retell the story, so we did that too.

We also learned about lots of other cool bugs. We played in ant tunnels during self-select play time in dramatic play the first week, and had tons of fun. I added pics from google image of ant tunnels and they were pretty enthralled with those.


For large group the first day, we read about ants and learned they have a queen who lays eggs, "babysitter" ants who take care of the eggs and babies (larvae) and also worker ants who gather the food, and dig the tunnels and build the ant hill. We had a lot of fun going back to the tunnels to act like ants. We had a queen who sat there in one tent, a babysitter ant in another tent caring for some dolls, and then worker ants scrambling like crazy, in and out of the other room where the toy kitchen was being stored, bringing food to the queen and babysitter ants. They had so much fun! We had to do it a few times to take turns at different jobs. They got to recreate it and play again Wednesday doing the same thing too, so I left all the food out for them. We had some hungry ants!

We also did some ant math with story cards. I love math story cards! We sat there with our cards and ants, and I told stories like, "1 ant came to play, then 1 more came. How many ants do you have now?" Great counting, adding, and subtracting, and they think they're just playing! They even got to tell me their own math stories and they were pretty incredible.

Along with our ant theme, we ate ants on a log for snack, which was the classic peanut butter on celery with raisins. I think my child was the only one to eat it, but I had a few begging for more raisins and eating tons of those, some others who just kept licking out the PB and asking for more, and then one who scraped everything out and only ate the celery. I guess I should have just handed out the ingredients, but they did find it funny to get to eat ants for snack!

We had these plastic bugs, catchers, and magnifiers out the whole 2 weeks and they were the favorite toy. These kids are just animal lovers and could play make-believe with them all day long.
We also "grew" bugs in a jar (had to transfer to a bigger one than this) and documented their growth on a chart.
I have lots of bug puzzles and dominoes, with Ldaybug ABCs and counting 1-10, so we had a lot of fun in the small manips area during our bug weeks too.

We learned the difference between insects and spiders too. We sang "Head Thorax Abdomen" to the tune of "Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes" to learn the parts of an insect. We sorted our bugs by counting their legs to learn if they were a spider or insect. Awesome and easy math tie in with counting and sorting. I even brought back the spider web we had done Halloween week for our second week of dramatic play. And here are our cute 3-bodied, 6-legged, glittery bugs from art!

 The best part about bug week (besides the caterpillars) was searching for bugs outside. They were so brave! We brought the magnifying glasses outside each day, and pulled up rocks, dug around in a stump, and dug in the dirt to see what we could find. We found lots of spiders and they'd scream, but then sit and watch them too. As a person who HATES spiders, I was proud of them and I never want to pass on my irrational fears, so I scream inside and act like it's fun to watch them. We also found worms, slugs, potato bugs (the favorite) and other things I don't know the name of. We had a blast exploring the yard. We even found a bunch of empty praying mantis egg cases all over my fence.


So, when the kids came to school yesterday, we had 2 caterpillars hanging upside down in their "J" shape, and sometime during school, another one hung there, so we had 3.
I meant to take a picture of them last night, but I guess all the kids did see them so it's ok. I watched them all day for any changes and didn't see anything. Then this morning we woke up to this!
 The 3 caterpillars are now in a chrysalis! Not sure the plural of chrysalis...3 chrysalises or 3 chrysali? Anyway, here they are. A 4th caterpillar is hanging upside down too. The 5th is still wandering and eating. I was glad the 4th one finally started hanging, cuz he spent yesterday crawling around the top bugging the other guys and they kept snapping at him all day.

We'll give these guys a few days to harden, then I can transfer them to the butterfly habitat to be ready to hatch open!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

More caterpillars

These guys seem to grow by the minute!
Here they are Monday

And today. They could form a chrysallis anytime now, and 4 of the 5 are currently hanging out on top of the jar tonight.

Friday, April 19, 2013


I think I am a little obsessed with these guys. I am seriously so fascinated. The kids seemed excited too, but I am just loving watching them grow! Since we're only in school 2 days a week, I'll be updating their progress on the blog so your kids won't miss a thing!
By the way, preschoolers are so fun. Some of them had no idea caterpillars turn into butterflies (I forget their age and life experience sometimes) so this whole idea is so cool to them. So excited to introduce them to this fun life cycle!
So, the caterpillars arrived Tuesday night and were super tiny. Wednesday, the kids enjoyed watching them wiggle around, and we drew little squiggly caterpillars in our journals.
 April 16
tiny little guys

 April 18
Only 2 days later, and already quite a bit bigger. They're also spun webs all over the jar. Instead of being all black, they have little white spots on their backs now.
 See their spots?
 I think it's cool how they hang on with their back legs and keep their front legs tucked up while they chill/sleep. Not really sure what they're doing. :)

I'm becoming quite the caterpillar photographer. It's not easy getting a camera to focus on these little guys!

 April 19
Even bigger and shedding their skin! So, we (me, my daughter, and niece) were watching them today and noticed more big black spiky balls in the jar, and it's their skin. One of them had shed this bigger piece (there are lots of small ones in there too) and we even saw him nibbling on it.  A little bit later, we noticed a caterpillar had a spiky ball at one end, and a small black dot at the other. As he squirmed, both pieces fell off and I realized we had just watched him finish shedding his skin. The big spiky balls are the skin, and the small black ball in the pic below is the skin off its head. This guy is now much lighter in color and with his tan head, we could see his eyes and mouth really well. His spikes are white too. I got this picture of him, and within an hour, his head was black again.

 See all the webs they're making? Didn't know that was going to happen.
 2 are white and fuzzy now. I'm sure the rest will be soon too.

 Trying to get a pic of the guy who's about the shed his skin, but it's hard to tell. He's been there still quite awhile and I can see the black dot on his head coming off and you can see back behind his head that he's been wiggling out of his skin a bit.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Think Spring!

**Updated with pictures

Sorry about last Wednesday and all the sickness. I had everything all set up to go, but I'm thinking I'll just do what I had planned during our 4 seasons review next month. So, we'll be doing the water cycle stuff then. And now, everything is all bleached and sanitized and ready for your return Monday. :)
I don't have many pictures this week, so enjoy your reading!
Dramatic Play: Ice Cream Store
These kids love the cash register and this piece of cardboard! Every time it comes out, they just can't stay away. We had fun working at the Ice Cream Store this week. We had play ice cream cones, Dilly bars, and play fruits and other desserts. Plus, we had empty ice cream containers with styrofoam balls as ice cream scoops. And of course, spoons and bowls. The purses and money are a must, and a favorite. We did a lot of math here, counting scoops and money. And there was also a "Counting Sweet Treats" game that they played a lot, that worked with numbers 1-10.



We did a lot of ABC review this week. We had the letter easter eggs out again from dinosaur week, that match the capital and small letters. Inside were toys that matched up with each letter. This was a great "learning through play" moment as I just sat and played with the toys with some of the kids, then we started figuring out their beginning sounds and matching them to their eggs.
We also had several ABC puzzles out, and ABC stickers in the writing center.

We tried out another pinterest idea, condensed milk painting. It was fun and sticky and very colorful! I forgot to take pics, but they looked awesome. I loved watching these girls enjoy the process of art, by discovering they could swirl their brushes above their papers and just let it drip in cool designs on their paper, rather than just painting. We had a great time.
Monday, there was just green paper and scissors, and I asked them to cut leaves for our spring tree. Seems simple and boring, but they all participated sometime throughout the day. Cutting is a great fine motor skill at this age, and they all thought it was so important to get the leaves up in the tree. They helped hang the lower ones.

Large Group:
We read about signs of spring, and began learning our new spring songs, Popcorn Popping and Rain is Falling. We also finished a shape sorting activity we started, but didn't finish during space week.
We are so lucky that my backyard neighbor has an apricot tree right along our fence. It was in perfect full bloom Monday and so we went out there to review our word, blossom, and sing Popcorn Popping. I don't know about you, but I clearly remember singing that as a kid, and thinking it really was popcorn and being confused. So, we talked a lot about that song and the blossoms. We got to have popcorn for snack too, and then used our extra popcorn to make blossoms for our tree.
And it's a good thing we already enjoyed her blossoms, because that wind storm blew them all away!

We enjoyed some fun outside time the first Wednesday, and played our new favorite games Red Light Green Light and Duck Duck Goose. It's so fun to teach them these games and watch them play. We don't quite get all the rules, but we're laughing and having tons of fun! We were stuck inside from the rain on Monday, but we were so busy playing that we did just fine. The rain is a great sign of spring, so it fit right into our lessons!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Outer Space

This unit was just so much fun, we didn't even have time to cram in all the activities I had planned, so I've got a bunch in my pocket for next year. Here are some highlights:

Dramatic Play:
I built a rocket ship out of cardboard boxes and it was a huge hit! I also made a few jet packs out of 2-liter bottles. These items were all constantly in use by someone all 4 days. They loved them.
There were also space books and magnet building toys (just because they looked space-ish to me), plus stars and planets hanging from the ceiling and a moon that lit up. They were very creative in their play (which is the reason for dramatic play) and it was fun to watch. The magnet toys were usually either to pump more gas into the rocket, or food in the rocket. They were great at using all the space vocabulary we were learning each day! Once their telescopes were painted and dried, they played with them a lot too.


We made night skies with glue and glitter

Painted telescopes (which they used in dramatic play and outside)

Made suns by squishing yellow, orange, and red paint under saran wrap


Played with galaxy play dough. It was full of glitter and confetti stars, and they all sat and picked out the stars! They played with star cookie cutters and some of the stars and planets off our ceiling.
p.s. black food coloring makes green playdough and purple fingers...just fyi...but somehow the next morning it looked darker (looks black in pictures) but my fingers were still purple for a week

I have a book about shapes that's all about shapes in space, so I went with the shapes theme and we did a lot of reviewing of our shapes. We did some review in large group, and also had some shape activities in the small manipulatives center both weeks:
We made pictures with pattern blocks
Played with shape magnets on trays
Played shape dominoes
Did lots of different shape puzzles
We made our name/shape rockets too, to review the letters in our names and the shapes. I was SO impressed with how well they did these, with VERY minimal help!

We also reviewed numbers with a space math puzzle and our song, 5 Little Astronauts (one of few songs we've done so far that they actually memorized quickly and sang right along!)

We did lots of reading! We always have a book at large group, but I also pulled some out during snack too. They asked to read lots of the books this week because they were so interested in this topic, and as often happens, I start reading to 1 kid, and I soon have a whole gathering around me listening.
Made name rockets to review letters in our names
Reviewed these letters with a small manipulative activity with flat marbles. Good with circle magnets too. I found this site with tons of these printable pages!
We also had fun rocket papers at the writing table and that attracted more than just the usual kids who go there each day, to go and write, cut, glue and make pictures.

Large Group
We spent day 1 reviewing shapes and making our name rockets.

Day 2 we learned about the moon. We started out at snack with a book and learning that the moon has different phases. We even could watch those phases on the moon in our dramatic play! I had found this cool idea online, but didn't want to carve phases of the moon out of Oreos for everyone, so instead, I just handed out the cookies and we opened them to see what we got! Some kids got full moons, other crescents, and lots of half moons. They were so excited to open each cookie and see what they got, and yell it out. I was pleasantly surprised at all they learned.
We continued learning about the moon in large group by watching the moon landing and painting our bumpy moons with white paint mixed with flour. We added stars on day 3 and took them home.

Day 3 we focused on stars and the sun and learned that the sun is a star! We read about constellations and then did a star activity. We made a pin prick picture, which is a great small motor activity. I would only do this as a whole group, as I don't trust them with pins on their own! They each got a black piece of cardstock with a star outlined on it. I showed them with mine how to poke holes along the lines, then we held it up to the window and could see the star. We placed our papers on top of an upside down styrofoam bowl to do our poking. We talked A LOT about only poking through the paper and not poking ourselves or neighbors. We almost made it injury free, but 1 girl did get a small poke as we were cleaning up when she poked through her paper with her finger behind it, instead of the bowl. This was such a great activity for focus, concentration, and like I said before, small motor skills. It was difficult enough that they were so quiet and working hard, but not too hard that they couldn't do it. They didn't all have the patience to finish their whole stars, but I'm so impressed with how much they all worked and concentrated on it.

Day 4 seemed to be the favorite. After our story, we made our balloon rockets and each got 2 turns. They had so much fun and it was great to be in the room with cheering and screaming kids, and lots of countdowns to blast off! Instructions are here.

Space was so much fun and the kids had SO many questions about everything we learned about. I love having this much fun, learning with the kids and getting them excited about learning new things.

Another un-related highlight was knocking down our igloo! I got much of it down Saturday and packed into my recycle bin for pick-up Monday. They usually come while we're in school, so I left the rest up for the kids to knock down. They went crazy! Who knew milk jugs could be so loud?! They had them all knocked down and smashed and were hiding in them, piling them on each other, kicking them, and smashing them for a good 20 minutes until I was done with the noise. They loved it, and I loved piling them into the recycle bin after class! Welcome Spring!!!