Thursday, January 31, 2013

Winter Week for Preschoolers - Part 3

Winter Week is winding down and so is winter in general it seems. Snow turned into rain here and there is now nothing left for sledding and snowmen. Thankfully, the kids spent quite a bit of time outdoors enjoying the wonders of winter sports and leisure. I present here the remainder of the indoor school activities Adrian and I worked on in this end of January.

Free the Penguins - Addition

Ooo. I was so excited to try this mat! I found it on mathwire and they had a variety of penguin mats (perfect for winter!). I chose the "sum of two dice" mat for Adrian and he was quite happy to try it out. Anything with dice gets his immediate attention. I like that this was a different die game. Two dice had to be rolled and then Adrian had to count the dots on both dice. That number would free the penguin on that ice floe! Now the penguins did not come with the mat so I had to research some clipart but it was worth it.  I printed mine thanks to Best Clipart Blog.

Snowflake & Scissors

Well this turned out to be a bit more complex than I thought it would be. I remember making snowflakes when I was a kid but making beautiful snowflakes requires lots of folding and as such the paper is so thick that even I had a tough time cutting through. As such, I folded Adrian's in half only and his snowflake was a minimalist one, not nearly as intricate as mine. Maybe a coffee filter would have been better! Adrian's scissor work is still in its early stages so the circle guidelines I had drawn became triangles as well.. Not quite ready for non sharp cuts yet.

Snowflake Pattern Making

THE brilliant idea I wish I had come up with! My patterns are always with stamps and stickers it seems and then there's this: felt snowflake making with pattern cards! Duh! Why didn't I think of that? Thankfully, Making Learning Fun did for me and the rest of us. There was still quite a bit of work involved, namely prepping the cards and cutting all the snowflake parts but it was SO worth it and Adrian quite enjoyed it. He likes novelty in school and that quite struck his fancy. I saw this idea on My Montessori Journey and followed the link back to Making Learning Fun to get the patterns.

Melt-an-ice-cube Game

I really wish we would have had time to do this game but we did not and since it was not as educational as some other activities, I had told myself I would put it out as a bonus IF we had time.  We did not. There's always next year anyway.  If you have time though, feel free to melt your own ice cubes and tell me what we missed! :) Instructions were found with the idea at My Montessori Journey (instructions were linked directly from MMJ to Humingbirded).

Go Sledding and Enjoy the rest of winter!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Winter Week for Preschoolers - Part 2

Although our family moves every few years, we usually happen to move to an area that gets to go through the seasons which is wonderful; especially for the children. I can still remember how excited Adrian and Zahavah were when they woke up to a few inches of snow in October. It was pure magic to them. That is exactly what I mean to bring into the "Classroom" with my winter theme this week. 

Writing in "snow" - shaving foam tray

I hesitated in between bringing out a pure white salt tray to represent snow or a shaving cream tray. In the end, having just done a colored salt tray, I went with shaving cream. I guess I was slightly over-enthuasistic over the foam because I put so much in the tray that we could barely trace anything so if you intend on replicating this idea...a little goes a long way! :) We used a baking pan to contain the foam and practiced tracing numbers this time. 

Painting with colored ice cubes

I thought this would be cool to try being that ice is something wintry but it didn't work out too well. Maybe I needed to put more food coloring drops into the ice cubes (I put a "very generous" 1 drop in each) but the colors were VERY muted when Adrian painted with them. I also had intended to put popsicle sticks in the ice cubes before they completely set so he could manipulate them without freezing his fingers but completely forgot I had put the ice tray in the freezer (mommy brain anyone?) so I improvised and added some fine motor skills to the art work: I added a pair of metal nutcrackers for Adrian to pick up the cubes and paint an abstract winter scene.

Matching snowflakes

These beautiful snowflakes cards can be used as a matching game and a memory game. I put them out only as a matching game. It was an EXCELLENT one too. These snowflakes are quite intricate and there are many of them too so Adrian really had to put his discrimination skills to work. I first saw them on Living Montessori Now I think and followed the link to PreKinders to get my own set.

Sequencing the life of a snowman

We do not do a lot of sequencing here yet but I feel we should start. Story re-telling and sequencing is important in literacy and it's kind of our first step towards this goal of developing these skills. These cards were so adorable I just had to use them. They were part of a HUGE winter package found on Oopsey Daisy.

Making a Playdough Snowman

Whether you can make a real one or now, making a playdough snowman is always a blast. I wasn't sure what to use for accessories but I was sure of one thing; we needed white dough! :) So I put out white playdough and then decided to braid some wool to make a scarf and finally gathered some twigs outside. Mini chocolate morsels (eyes), regular chocolate morsels (buttons), and slivers of baby carrot (nose) were also added to the basket for snowmen decorations. I think it turned out nicely, don't you?

Or making a real snowman if you can...

Being that it's winter in Germany, we do get to make real snowmen as well...Here is little Zahavah and big brother Adrian with their latest creation (with a major contribution from their daddy of course).

I'm linking up to Montessori Monday today!
Montessori Monday

Monday, January 28, 2013

Winter Week for Preschoolers - Part 1

Adrian loves school. Adrian looks forward to Mondays because he knows a new theme awaits him in what he affectionately calls "school with mama". This week was different. Adrian was not "done" with Outer Space and wanted to go on. He had no interest whatsoever in changing topics. A part of me felt happy because one of my goals had been reached: I had finally intrigued him into a new passion that did not revolve around trains! Yet I felt a bit sad. I had prepared interesting activities and so wished he would at least take a look at the trays I had put out. He eventually did when he saw me having fun hanging mittens on the clothesline and pretending to drop them...I still followed his lead and all week, he insisted on working more a bit on outer space before doing some winter related work...

Uppercase & lowercase matching of alphabet letters

Adrian has known his alphabet since before he was 2 (thank you Leapfrog Fridge Phonics Magnetic Alphabet). He's also mastered the sound of the letters since he was 3 but I don't think I ever verified whether he knew his lower and uppercase letters. I guess I always assumed he knew. After seeing these cute snowmen cards featured on Pre-K + K Sharing, I thought I'd confirm my guess... Print your own set of cards at The Kids Place Home Daycare and Preschool

Arctic animals and ice floes 

My Montessori Journey had a similar activity featured on their blog and I thought it looked so fun! Unfortunately, I didn't have time to get my hands on an Arctic toob so I just used the Arctic animals we had at home from Fisher-Price. Bad idea! They had little holes at the bottom and water went in and won't come out now. Live and learn I guess. Prior to the activity I froze some ice in plastic cups and bowl to make ice floes for the animals but it melted really quickly. My son still had fun playing in the water while I explained a few things about arctic animals, ice floes, global warming, and such.

How many fish did the penguins eat?

A counting activity involving little penguins cards and "Goldfish" crackers. Each penguin had a number representing how many fish he had eaten and Adrian had to count them and put them in the penguin's belly. He had just enough in the bowl to fill the bellies. Penguin cards printed thanks to CatClipart.

Clothespins, clothesline and mittens

This activity was actually a lot harder than I thought it would be for Adrian. I thought he had mastered clothespins but it seems his fingers have lost some strength lately. He was having trouble again the day we did this activity. Making the clothespins open was tough, holding them open enough added another degree of difficulty and then holding them the right way was another story entirely. It was challenging. Add to that the fact that he had to pin a mitten TO a line. Boy! It was rough but he did it and was very proud. I made a makeshift clothesline with a string of wool at his height.

Tweezing "snowballs"

White pompoms & white cottonballs can easily pass as snowballs. I was intending on using white glitter pompoms but our storage room has been a mess ever since the holidays and finding school materials has been made near impossible. So I grabbed the first pompoms I saw and felt happy I at least managed to find something worthy of looking like a snowball! :) Add a pair of tweezers, two small bowls and tweeze it all!

I'm linking up to Living Life Intentionally Today!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Outer Space for Preschoolers - Part 3

Outer Space Week ended last week for us but it must really have made an impression because my son has been asking for the space cards and outer space puzzle daily despite the fact that we moved on to a different theme this week so if you wonder if preschoolers might be a bit too young to appreciate the density of a topic like space...don't! Just go with it! :)

Space Shuttle Craft

I always try to find cute crafts and projects to accompany our thematics and this one was just too cute not to try. I found it at A Little Delightful. It uses a footprint cut from aluminum foil, star stickers, glue, glitter, pre-cut construction paper shapes and silk paper your child can crumple him/herself.

Constellation Pin Punching 

First saw these on Counting Coconuts. Just had to print these for pin punching as well. I used styrofoam as a backer and a regular pin for the punching. Adrian loved punching and punched every card in the deck and liked counting the number of holes pierced.

Giant Floor Puzzle

This giant Melissa & Doug puzzle was a gift Adrian received this summer for his birthday. He has since put it together a few times but I made a point to bring it out this week so we could discuss the solar system a bit more. Adrian fell in love. He's put it together every single day since.

Counting Moon Rocks

Knowing other planets have moons, I pretended these gems and pebbles were "moon rocks" from Ganymede (one of Jupiter's moons - pictured on the left) and from Phobos (one of Mars' moons - pictured on the right). Adrian simply had to count how many moon rocks came from each moon.

Star to Star

Once again, this is something we did during our "In the Woods" week but that was worth re-visiting. I thought it was so cute how it's star to star and not dot to dot and that the work links constellations. Print your own free copy on Crayola's website.

Lacing Constellations

Lacing is a very nice dexterity activity. Here is a very nice way to put it out during outer space week: constellation lacing! I found this Big Dipper card (and a few more) at Mrs. Home Economist.

This concludes our unit on outer space. Please visit us again in a few days to see our Winter Unit!

This post was shared at Discover and Explore!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Outer Space for Preschoolers - Part 2

Outer Space is a HUGE topic to cover, even for preschoolers. Moon, stars, planets, moon dust, moon rocks, and all. I was full of ideas when I brainstormed last week's activities. Here are a few more I came up with...the remainder to be presented later this week.

Lunar Soil

I recently "splurged" and bought a "special" case of PlayDoh featuring metallic and neon colors. My kids love Play Doh and I still haven't found any time to make my own so that was my reason to buy a new case of colors. To my greatest joy, there was a can of metallic grey in it! Shiny, glittery grey that was simply perfect to mimic lunar soil! So I thought I'd show Adrian pictures of the moon from afar and then close ups and then of its craters. Then, using a marble, I asked him to make him own lunar soil. Picture cards used are from a set I bought at B.J.'s last year at the beginning of the school year.

How many Moons does this Planet Have?

Children love the moon and don't necessarily know that there are many other moons out there. Adrian was surprised to hear that if he lived on Mars for example, two moons would keep him company at night and that over 60 would surround his planet if he lived on Jupiter! Using silver marbles from a marble maze we have, and planet cards (purchased at Target at the beginning of the school year in the dollar bins), Adrian had to distribute the right amount of moons for each planet. I stuck to the planets with less than 20 moons but informed Adrian that some had over 20.

Hunting for Stars

Here's an activity we have done in the past (during our "In the Woods" unit) that was well loved and worth repeating. I cut up some stars and stuck them on the walls in a darkened room. I gave Adrian a flashlight and told him how many stars were awaiting him on the walls. I wish I had taken the time to make the stars yellow as I had in the past but I was all out of yellow construction paper. :(

Matching Phases of the Moon

A yummy activity. Adrian loves the moon and has been wondering why it changes so this strip was a good way to show how the moon changes through the month. I thought that introducing creme sandwich cookies (Oreo Style...ours were from Back to Nature) to match with the phases would make it a bit lighter...and yummier! :) I must admit the idea of the cookie wasn't entirely mine. After looking for various ways to engage Adrian with the phases of the moon through Google Images, I saw so many "Oreo" phases of the moon that I just had to find a way to include it as well. I thought matching pictures and a more tangible item (the cookie) would make it easier to"digest"! :)

Cutting Strips featuring Planets

Still working on our scissor action here. Although the motion is getting better, it is still hard work so I still like to put cutting strips out there. I'm thinking of putting real metal scissors too now that the maneuvering is not as dangerous awkward for Adrian's fingers. These Melissa & Doug plastic scissors work well but not as well as a real pair. I printed these "strips using a generic planet collage I printed on simple paper (not even cardstock). You can print your own by visiting a page maintained by the University of Oklahoma's Dept. of Astronomy.

* * *
Loving the Outer Space Unit? Here's a little extra for you and your little ones: A short version from IMAX's 2006 's Roving Mars found on YouTube by my uncle who happened to send the link at the most appropriate time. Adrian has been watching the video everyday since. Enjoy!

I'm linking up to Montessori Monday today... 

Montessori Monday

as well as I can Teach My Child!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Outer Space for Preschoolers - Part 1

I remember being fascinated by space and planets when I was in elementary school. I can't remember exactly how old I was but I thought an early introduction could be fun for Adrian. He loves looking for the moon in the sky and likes stars and so I thought... why not bring in a bit more astronomy? Needless to say, he won't remember everything but overall, he loved the subject and now talks about the planets as if he'd visited them. :)

Writing in moon dust

It's the first time I have Adrian practice writing in a tray and it was such a success that we'll repeat. I had no idea how fun it would be and how EASY it would be for him to trace letters with his finger. It's a struggle for him to write with a pencil (the pencil grasp still hasn't been mastered) but writing with a finger makes him feel empowered and proud. To make this "moon dust", I used regular table salt, glitter and a drop of green food coloring mixed with blue and red to darken it a bit. Black would have been better to make it grey but I had no black food coloring on hand! *crying* I mixed it all up and it was ready to use. I then would trace a letter and asked Adrian to trace next to me. He got 90% of the alphabet right...For the ones that gave him trouble, I asked him to trace over mine to practice them some more. 

Sweeping "meteors"

Stelline pasta (pasta stars) is not only edible but also pretty cute when you work on shapes and space weeks! Here, a popular Montessori practical life activity involving sweeping on a small scale. Adrian is not fond of cleaning so he didn't quite like this one and even claimed it was difficult. Using the paintbrush, he had to sweep the pasta stars into the taped square. It really gets the little fine motors going! :)

How many stars in this night sky?

Quite simple but still involves quite a bit of math skills and fine motor. Believe me: peeling off these tiny sticker stars from the paper was no small feat and sticking them in the sky gave Adrian his fair share of problems! :) But he liked it. Sticker activities are always fun to him.

Moon Landing Craft

I love how this one turned out, don't you? Wish I had come up with the idea myself! :) I gotta thank Growing in God's Grace for it though and BusyBeeKidsCrafts for the graphics. I liked that the circle was pre-drawn (by me) and that Adrian had to take care to paint (a mix of white tempera and flour) within the circle only. Very simple craft but it was a new medium to use and Adrian had to use proper strength to remain within the lines.

Graphing space related items

Not the prettiest graph but I couldn't get my hands on any other free graph going all the way up to 20. I guess next time I'll just draw one myself! :) Adrian had to compile all the stars, moons, planets, astronauts and space shuttles and register their quantity by coloring the right amount of boxes. I made this graph go by 5 since we'll be starting to tell time soon so I want him to practice counting by 5 a bit.

More astronomy activities coming your way soon...

* * *
I'm linking up to No Time for Flashcards and Discover and Explore Today!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Robots Week for Preschoolers - Part 2

Robots Week really had me all fired up with inspiration. It was a fun week for my son and it was fun for me to prepare as well.  Here is the last post on the topic...

Robot Creation - Wrapping, Gluing and More

What can you do with an upside down empty individual applesauce container and a small Del Monte pull-top vegetable can? This beautiful robot of course! You'll also need foil, pipe cleaners, goggly eyes, glue and gems of your choice for buttons. The best part of course is the wrapping. Foil is so easy to maneuver for small hands wanting to wrap. It was both easy and fun to do for Adrian.

Circuit Board - A "3D dot-to-dot" with elastics and screws!

I always try to come up with different ideas for Adrian's school so he won't get bored. I thought this would be perfect with the robot theme since robots have circuits. Of course, we're not gonna start welding this year so to make connections, we use elastics! :) I used a styrofoam piece, wrote down letters and numbers, inserted screws and told Adrian it was like dot to dot but with elastics! He LOVED it and did it several times in a row. Using elastics is also good for fine motor developement!

Funneling robot parts -which funnel will let the robot parts through?

Another big hit this week was this simple funneling activity. We used three different sizes of funnels (from the dollar store) and three different containers filled with "robot parts" (washers, nuts and plastic anchors). Adrian had to try and see which funnel went with which part. You see, prior to presenting this activity, I made sure the washers would go down only one funnel for example. He had to find out which. Then he was handed the nuts and had to see which funnel would fit them and so on. He did the work several times, enjoying seeing the items go down the tube.

Name that Robot - Calling all Letters - A phonetic activity

After Adrian mentioned the nuts & bolts looked like robots, I just had to do a follow up activity. :) I just thought we could name them! Using our Leapfrog magnetic letters, I called out phonetically the letters composing the name of each. I had told Adrian that each robot would have a three letter name and here they are are!

Magnetic versus non-magnetic robot parts

What better week than this week to break out a magnetism activity? It's always well loved. I put out a few items that could pertain to robots and Adrian tested them each with his wand separating the magnetic ones from the non-magnetic ones. He then proceeded to find more magnetic items throughout the house...

Robot Oil - Filling a small container with an eyedropper

Adrian still likes transfer activities but they are getting quite easy for him. I mean, he is 4.5 years old. So, I thought I'd put out this one with small contact lens cases and eyedroppers and their bottles. I introduced them as robot oil. I explained we had to find out which color the oil was by dropping a few droplets into each compartment so each robot could be given the right oil. He loved the idea. His execution was perfect.

Preparing to rub the oil on the robots with a cotton pad - Fill & "empty"

After finishing the filling, we transferred again using a syringe. This was tougher. The syringe had to be filled and then the "oil" had to be dropped on the pad that would be "rubbed on the robot parts needing care". 

Reading and Matching Shapes & Paperclipping activity

Homeschool Creations's free package contains quite a few cute files. This was one of them. I cut the shape name cards and cut the robot cards as well and then came the work. First, Adrian had to "read" the shape cards. He can't quite read yet but by reading the first letter phonetically, he was able to read the shape name and thus match each shape card with the right robot. Then, he paperclipped them all. It was his first time paperclipping and I am not sure if it was because of the type of paperclips but it was difficult for him. I thought these oversized plastic ones would work great for a first time but maybe I was wrong. I might have to give a try to the good old metal ones! :)

Today, I'm linking up to:
Montessori MondayThe Weekly Kids Co-Op at B-Inspired MamaI Can Teach My Child
and No Time for Flashcards

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Robots Week for Preschoolers - Part 1

Welcome back to me! :) It sure has been a loooong time since I posted, hasn't it? Missed me much? Well, you know, with the holidays and all, I just had to take a breather and embrace the season with the family. That being said, I might not have posted them but we did do a few activities in regards with Christmas. Will I post them? I guess not. I feel like it's been more than a while since we wrapped up the season so... let's just skip to our next theme: robots!

My version of robot playdough - inspiration for Adrian's robot playdough below

Now I was a bit apprehensive when I sat down to create an entire week worth of robot school materials. My son, for one, isn't into robots. I don't personally know much about robots either but I was wanting to use this theme as a way to expand his knowledge and have him develop an interest in other subjects. Robots, it seems, is something little kids like. As it turns out, robot week was my all time favorite so far and I believe it was one of Adrian's as well (nothing will ever beat Trains and Angry Birds week). Without any further introduction, here is a sample of what we did last week-part 1.

Robot Playdough

Children in general love modeling dough and clay. Play dough is usually my go-to because it's easy to set up and easy to clean up. Unfortunately, my son usually doesn't quite know what to do with the dough and gets bored quickly because he finds himself doing the same things over and over again. For robot week, I set out some "robot parts" (washers, nuts, plastic anchors, pipe cleaners) and decided to model along. Although I had mentioned we were going to make robots out of playdough, Adrian's imagination and excitement really flourished after he saw me make one of my robots. Then, he set off to work and made robots based on mine (which were based on Counting Coconuts' ideas). It was the first time he really created anything with a modeling compound so it made me proud and it made him happy. 

Changing batteries

Do robots run on batteries? Well, many do. Although CloudB's Twilight Turtle isn't a robot, it needed its batteries replaced (how timely!) and so we practiced changing the batteries so we'd be ready when a robot would need our help. I personally unscrewed the door and then showed Adrian how to pop out a battery and how to insert one in observing the polarity. The other 2 batteries were to be popped out and popped back in by him. A nice practical life activity.

Isolating The Letter "R/r"

Adrian loves manipulatives so whenever I use worksheets, I try my best to match them up with tangibles; not just markers. Here, a printable from Homeschool Creations's free package and a container filled with washers to be put on all the "r" and "R" found on the page. Quite easy  for my big boy but how fun!

Assembling Nuts & Bolts

A great practical life activity for improving dexterity. I demonstrated how to disassemble these and how to put these back together. Each part was also identified. At first, Adrian wasn't so quick but he eventually learned to "spin" the nuts instead of screwing them little by little and such. Adrian liked to think that these constituted a family of robots! :)

Measuring Robot Height

Our first time using a tape measure. This activity was so well liked that I am thinking of buying a child-size tape measure for Adrian. Cloth tape works well for now but it's not very sturdy; just lightweight. I was agreeably surprised by Adrian's use of the tape; he knew how to read it intuitively and how to to use it. Anyhow, the activity was quite simple; Adrian had to measure the height of each robot with the tape measure and then put the number corresponding to its height. Standing in for robot were three of my Russian dolls wrapped in tin foil.

Stay tuned for more Robot activities!