Thursday, September 25, 2014

Down by the Seashore - Part 1

Well, although beach season is pretty much over for us (yes...Germany does have beaches and yes, it's already nippy!), I couldn't help but have a beach-themed week for my little one. She, like most children (and adults possibly) loves the beach and anything connecting to it. It took me a while to organize this week's activities but that's mostly because I needed to smoothen things out for my first grader first. In terms of ideas, it was flowing quite easily. 

Nature Center: Down by the Seashore. For hands on exploration and scientific exploration
Our first Nature Center for the year got it: beach treasures! I tried to provide a variety of items for exploring and touching but as we are far from the beach and not big into trinkets, we did not have that much in our center...On hand, I had an array of seashells. Some bought in stores, some provided by Adrian's own personal collection (he loves collecting shells at the beach!). I also had the big "centerpiece" seashell, a souvenir from the Bahamas. I added some real beach sand as well to remind the kids that beach sand is really just rocks that were eroded. This sand really showed that (thank you to the beautiful Florida panhandle beaches for their donation). I also added a vase from Tenerife to show that not all beach sand is beige. My vase included grey/black sand from the volcanic beach of the island. Beach glass, sand dollars and natural sponges were also in the center for exploration. Even my oldest took interest in the center and wanted to know more. "Was beach glass real glass?", "How did it get so smooth?", "Where did it come from?", "What are the holes under the sand dollars?", "It was alive?", "Where can I get my own huge seashell, mama?", Sponges grow?", "but I went to Cyprus too and didn't see any!"

Storytelling with pictures - a day at the beach
A great and easy language activity can easily be prepared with pictures printed at home or shown onto a computer monitor. For this activity, I picked a few pictures of Zahavah at the beach and asked her to tell me about the picture (the other ones were put aside for other days). When she got stalled, I'd ask her questions to prompt for more information. Where was it? (can you believe she remembers? "Israel!", "Sardinia!") What are you doing? Was the water cold? Did you collect seashells? She got quite talkative and loved the opportunity to share about her day at the beach and...requesting another one! :) 

Sensorial: Perfect water temperature for a swim!
As a first thermal activity, I thought we'd do a twist on those metal thermal bottles by using little cups filled with water. I prepared 3 different cups and doubled them. As such Zahavah had 2 very cold cups, 2 very warm cups (not scalding hot of course!) and 2 cups at body temperature. She had to feel the water in each cup with her finger and decide which matched which and finally had to tell me which she'd rather swim in. Can you guess which that was?

Color tablets...hmm swimsuits!
Felt swimsuit anyone? I couldn't resists putting a little twist on the color tablets! As this was our first introduction to the tablets this year, I prepared the little swimsuits in only the 3 first colors: red, blue and yellow. Needless to say, it was an easy match and the 3 period lesson lasted about just as long as 3 seconds! :)

Language: The sandpaper letters make their introduction!
Well it's about that time when a child should learn the letter sounds, right? Zahavah will be turning 4 this winter and so I'm starting to introduce the sandpaper letters. At this age, my son already knew the names and sounds of the letters but Z is not exactly interested in letters. I'll be trying to change that this year. The first letters introduced in a Montessori setting are the ones above so I'll be working on these with Zahavah until she masters them. Her big brother was so happy to see these again!

A play dough beach!
Play dough is, needless to say, a staple in most preschool aged kids' environment. I'm afraid our playdoh has been used so much that it is now either dry or of funky coloring due to color mixing so I did what I do every so often: made a batch of homemade play dough. I didn't dye it so it looked somewhat like sand and was used to...replicate a beach this of course! I put tiny accessories in a basket and Z loved decorating her "sand" to turn it into a nice beach. She even invited her Disney princesses to come relax on the beach and added more seashells for them to collect! This activity came out every day...several times a day! Thanks to Counting Coconuts for inspiring this one!

Play dough prints/fossils
Not nearly as popular as the play dough beach was the play dough prints and fossils center... I liked it. Very pretty but it did not fascinate my daughter one bit. :(

Language: Circle inset...becomes a beach ball!
Zahavah is not a pro at handling the metal insets (in our case...the plastic insets) but she loves them. Her favorite thing to do with them is to pretend they are puzzles. This week though, I showed her how a new way to use them. We practiced the single outline of the circle. I showed her how I transformed my circle into a beach ball and she was sold. Couldn't resist making her own beach ball using the inset...neither could my 6 year old actually! :) We also discussed the shape she created and went about looking for more circles in the house.

Smooth & Rough Board : beach sand or not?
I thought this week would be perfect to introduce the rough and smooth board...after all, it is sand on the board! Zahavah felt the rough sandpaper and the smooth balsam wood with her fingers and declared it felt like sand on the top. She didn't like the texture as much as she liked the bottom of course. We discussed the difference between smooth and rough and went about the house finding rough and smooth items to reinforce the concept. Z loves to move so I try to give her opportunities to leave her rug.

And that is partly how our first school week got started...For more beach-themed activities presented during our first school week, stay tuned! :)

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  1. Love these activities! Seems like a great unit. Visiting from Montessori Monday...

  2. Thank you Kris! Glad you found my blog and liked this post! :)