Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Forest Animals for Toddlers - Part 2

Last week just flew by. With a theme such as forest animals, it's always easy to come up with fun and educational activities for little ones. Children are naturally attracted to nature and its offering and part of me thinks Zahavah wishes the week had never ended...

Forest Animal Light Lunch Snack
Practical Life: A "Beary" Good Breakfast

Food prep! Toddlers love to let them. Here's an easy forest animal breakfast/snack/lunch they can make all by themselves (saw it on BuzzFeed back a few weeks ago). I served up the first one to my daughter to show her how it was done and she then made one for her big brother. Spreading peanut butter on a toast or a whole wheat slice of bread (easier on toast) is not difficult for a toddler and they love it. Peeling an opened banana and slicing that banana with a dull knife (we used a toothless plastic one) is rewarding and also age-appropriate at 3. Decorating with raisins? Well, the hardest part is to not eat them! :)

Dot Markers More Forest Animals
Fine Motor: Dot Pages!

Dots! These pages are all the rage over here. My daughter can't seem to get enough of them but believe it or not, I still haven't bought the Dot Markers! :) I'm slowly getting used to the idea that I might have to but in the meantime, we use Crayola's Tadoodles (seen upper right corner) and other materials to cover up the dots. This week,  we used tiny acorns to cover up the squirrel, golden pompoms for the fox, orange paint and a q-tip for the owl and a brown Tadoodle for the brown bear (these forest animals and more on Homeschool Creations!). It was nice to use different materials and a bit more challenging. Zahavah really tried to just fill the dots on the owl and did her best in keeping her pompoms still (still haven't made magnetic pompoms). 

Playdough Forest for Raccoons
Art: Playdough forest

Simple play dough activities can be VERY entertaining for little ones. Using toothpicks and green play doh, shrubs and trees were made for two small "raccoons" collected from some Kinder Surprise Eggs. Once the bushes and trees were made, the animals made tracks. Overall, for dexterity, this activity was quite neat. Rolling small balls of dough to make shrubs and high trees, rolling it on the table with the palms to make fuller trees but also learning how to make them stand on the forest floor by pushing the dough at the bottom...Lots of learning involved.

Pompom Dabbed White Owls Painting
Art - Painting owls with a pompom

Although I couldn't get my hands on it in time for this week, Owl Babies by Martin Waddell is supposed to be a good book which also happens to include owls in the story. I've always liked the cover and was in awe of I Heart Crafty Things's project of turning it into an art craft for kids. This involved paint, gluing, tearing, coloring and overall, a lot of fun; all things my daughter loves. So I gathered our supplies and gave it a try. Prior to starting, I drew 3 big white ovals on a black paper, pre-cut 3 small triangles and 3 pairs of eyes. As for the rest, it was all my toddler's work. She painted the owls by dipping a pompom (held by a clothespin) into white paint and dabbing it onto the ovals. Once dried, she glued the pre-cut eyes and nose (I put small marks where they should go) and drew stars and a moon. A big branch was also made by tearing a paper bag which she later glued under the owls. I also gave a demonstration as to how trees have knots and how the bark sometimes has "lines".  She loved this project and painting with a pompom was sure different! :)

Forest Animal Tangrams Fox Rabbit
Math - Pattern Block Forest Animals

Pattern blocks are all the rage here. We own a few sets of Melissa & Doug pattern block templates and Zahavah loves them. My son was also gifted a very nice magnetic tangram set and Z has started playing around with it. With that idea in mind, I looked up possible tangrams for forest animals and saw an actual book told in tangrams (inclusive of my beloved forest animal theme) and made a fox and rabbit for Zahavah to re-create. It was not easy but she was really proud of herself when she figured out how to place the pieces.

Forest Animals Exploration with Figures
Language - Forest Animals Figures & Quizzes

Big Jumbo Animals such as these (made by Learning Resources) are awesome when introducing forest animals. At 3, my daughter knew her forest animals pretty well by name but dusting these off was fun! :) Even more fun? Asking your child which of these animals she's seen before in nature or at the zoo. Ask questions about their physical appearance: "Who has antlers?", "Who has long ears and hops?", to switch to knowledge questions: "Who builds dams?", "Who loves to fly at night?" etc.

More, Less, Same Spots
Math - More, less or same?

I initially liked my idea of introducing "more, less or same" with deers and their spots. I know Zahavah already grabs the concept of "more and less" but on paper it is different. The transition from tangible objects to paper comparison was difficult. I ended up bringing white mini-pompoms to put on the deers. Being able to manipulate them helped her a lot.

Book Selection: Forest Animals

My children love books. I cannot, on the other end, always get the selection I want on the topics selected because we happen to live abroad at the moment but thankfully, this week, our home library had a good supply of books inclusive of forest animals! Not all these titles are Montessori-friendly, mind you, but they were all loved by my daughter, who is three. From our local library, we borrowed two and I made sure to get Zahavah to practice her prediction skills as we read as they were new stories to her. I also asked lots of questions to see if she had understood the gist and characters. Reading stories for vocabulary is great but getting a little extra out of them is even better! :)

Read and Enjoyed this Week:
-Fletcher and the Falling Leaves by Julia Rawlinson
(Fletcher the fox is a favorite character in this house and that is great because the wording in this story is well beyond most books of this level. The illustrations, especially the last one, are beautiful!)

-Waiting for Winter by Sebastian Meschenmosen
(First saw this one in a local German store. Glad I could find a translated copy! This book is beautifully illustrated with pencils, has fluid text and is sure funny!)

-If you Give a Moose a Muffin by Laura Numeroff
(Books from this series are adored by my kids and I find them clever too...)

-The Mitten by Jan Brett
(First time my little ones read it. Predicting which animal was going to be next was nice to my youngest. Trying to explain why the mitten was so much bigger at the end was difficult but my oldest helped her out...)

-Bear Snores On by Karma Wilson
(Bear is another character we all enjoy. Nice way to introduce hibernation and several forest animals.)
-Kiss Good Night By Amy Hest
(One of our favorite bedtime stories. The colors and story just warm you up!)

-The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry and the Big Hungry Bear by Don Wood
(A funny, yet classical story. Pictures are beautiful. Mouse's expressions are priceless.)

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  1. Love your ideas! Would you please come to my party next week?
    It is Wonderful Wednesday Blog Hop on Ducks 'n a Row. Please share some links :)

    1. Well thank you! I'll hop by and check it out! Thank you for the invitation! :)

  2. I love your breakfast bear! I'll be featuring you this week on Mom's Library at Crystal's Tiny Treasures.

    1. Thank you so much for the feature and for taking the time to comment Crystal! :) Happy to bear the breakfast bear is a popular item! :) Easy to make yet nutritious and fun!