Seeds and Flowers!

Our local libraries have been presenting some great FREE programs for children!  Last night my son and I took the kids to a Spring themed pajama night.  I always wish more parents knew that these great opportunities are available.  These programs include movement songs, stories, crafts, snacks and sometimes even parachute play!   What a great way to introduce children to some of the types of activities they will engage in when they go to preschool or kindergarten.

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This cute flower project made me think about some of the wonderful books I loved sharing with my kindergartners.

flower seed books4

flower seed books3 flower seed books2 flower seed books1 During the spring we always studied seeds and the parts of plants.  That usually included planting some quick growing seeds so the children could watch this exciting process and take home a small flower.

Dr. Jean has a fun song to the tune of Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes.  It introduces or reinforces the parts of a flower.

Of course the children touch their head, body, stick out their arms for leaves, and their feet for the roots!

Dr Jean

You can find this song on Dr. Jean’s CD – Kiss Your Brain

We made this project using the children’s hands to trace the roots and flowers, then again with their fingers close together for the leaves.

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The children wrote a short phrase about the job of each part of the plant.

Here are the details of the cute project the children made at the library.  I loved this because the children could pull the pipe cleaners down for the roots, and push them up to simulate how the flowers grow!  They always love to make a project they can play with!

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They started out with a 3 oz. paper cup that already was wrapped with paper, and 5 small holes were punched in the bottom.  You could easily make this with fewer flowers, 3 would still be great!

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They provided stickers to decorate the outside of the “flower pot” and the little flowers with holes inside were precut – probably a die cut.  Older children might cut their own flowers too!

The children poked one end of the pipe cleaner through a hole in the cup and put a flower on the other end.  Adults helped the little ones bend the ends of the pipe cleaners to keep them in place.

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Next they stuffed small strips of brown tissue paper into the cup around the pipe cleaners to make it look like dirt.

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With the pipe cleaners pushed all the way up the little flower pot will sit on the table.  The kids loved pulling the flowers down into the pot and pushing them up to “grow!”

Here are the directions that were posted on each table.

directions  I love simple, inexpensive projects that the kids can play with!   You might want to check out your local library and share the information about great programs like this with the families in your class!  Thanks to the Milford Public Library for a fun evening!

Happy Easter!  Happy Spring!

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Bunny Day!

It was fun to celebrate spring and Easter with a special Bunny Day – sometimes we called it Jellybean Jamboree!

Sometimes we learned Rabbit Facts with Roxie Heart –

We measured with jellybeans

It was fun to watch them problem solve to measure a balloon with jellybeans!

I filled plastic eggs with rice, pennies, bells, etc. and the children listened to them to figure out which egg contained each item.  They wrote the name of the egg color next to a picture of the item in the egg.  One year our Bunny Day happened to fall on a school wide pajama day too!

I used this type of activity quite a often to monitor the children’s phonetic spelling.  They just stretched out the sounds and labeled each picture.  It gave me great information about how well they were hearing sounds and matching letters and sounds.  When they were actually writing a story they had so many other things to think about – their idea, spaces, their drawing, etc.  This activity just focused on writing the sounds.

Here is one to print:

Easter phonetic spelling

For most of the jellybean activities the children shared a bowl of jellybeans – but of course they wanted to eat some too – so each child got a baggie-ful and graphed the colors and ate them!

We made Bunny Bags and parents sent in donations to fill them.  I made one with Owen this week!

You can make Bunny Bags with plain brown lunch bags, and they are cute too – but I usually got white or pastel colored bags (Target!)  Each child also needs one pink pom pom and a cotton ball.

I made a template and traced it onto the bag – make sure the flap for the bottom of the bag is tucked to the back.  Kindergartners could do their own tracing if you make sure the template is the same size as the bag, and they remember to turn it ear side up!

Then cut the top of the bag into a bunny shape!

Owen is working on scissor control (remember he’s only 2!)  Thumb up Owen!

For the eyes Kindergartners could free cut them, or cut out white and use circle sticker dots for the center – or you could provide oval and circle tracers for those too!

 

Owen loves glue sticks!

Next cut a rectangle of black paper into 3 thin strips (about 6 inches long)  Glue them on criss cross, right under the eyes.

 

Then glue on a pom pom nose – or cut out a pink construction paper circle.  Glue sticks don’t work well with pom poms.

 

Add a cottonball tail to the back.

 

 

Don’t forget to put the lid back on the glue!

 

Owen wanted to put something inside as soon as he was done – the crayons were handy.

 

 

Put a good handful of Easter grass inside – I chop it up a bit with scissors to make it easier to handle.

 

These are sturdy enough to hold filled plastic eggs, small candies, small toys, etc.  (This makes me feel like Pioneer Woman’s cooking pictures!)

 

At school I loved to play with the children.  I would fill all their bunny bags and have them sitting in bins on a table where the children could see them.  Then when the children went to lunch or a special (p.e., music, art) I would take the bags out to the playground – or more often our Media Center; and hide them!  Then I made Bunny footprint tracks!  I cut a piece of tagboard into a large bunny footprint shape, I set it on the carpet and sprinkled flour over it, rubbing it in a little (it vacuums up easily!)  I made footprints outside our classroom door, and leading down the hall either toward the Media Center or out the door to the playground.  Then I let the children find them missing and come to the conclusion that the Easter Bunny had come and hidden our bags!  Of course you have to be dramatic and pretend to be upset that they are missing.

One nice feature of these bags is that you can staple the ears to keep stuff from falling out inside their backpacks!

We also made Bunny hats!

And had a celebration!

We made windsocks and took them outside to play!

Trees!

Trees are just a natural follow up to units about saving the earth and springtime!  It is fun to learn facts about them because kids already have a lot of personal experience with different kinds of trees.   I often brought out my puppet Roxie Heart when we were using information books.  Here she is in her tree dress!

I usually put something in her purse that went along with one of the facts about trees that we were learning, maybe  a little sponge to talk about how trees help clean the air, or a feather to talk about animals who live in trees, etc.

Each child made a book about trees, and this gave me another chance to reinforce informational text features as well as stuff about trees!

For the cover the children cut a tree out of scrap paper and added details.

When I gave the children their book it already was stapled with the following pages inside.  Of course we couldn’t complete the Table of Contents until we finished the book, and added page numbers.

On the next page the children drew a tree and labeled the parts.  I really reminded them to make a tall tree with the leaves at the top of the page and the roots at the bottom.  They used phonetic spelling to label the parts.

We re-visited the seasons of a tree, we had talked about this in the fall with The Seasons of Arnold’s Apple Tree, and our Apple book (see my Fall section.)

We brainstormed and read books like A Tree is Nice, then drew and wrote about what we could do with a tree.

The final page in the book contained facts about trees.  We learned 5 or 6 new things about trees and I asked the children to write about 3 of them.

By making this book we reviewed text features like labels, captions, table of contents and page numbers.  Some of the children included bold print in their writing too!

Here are the pages if you’d like to print this book:

tree book pages

I always wanted to “adopt” a tree for my classroom – to choose a tree on our school property and take the class out to observe it over the course of the school year.  I thought it would be fun to take pictures of the children with the tree as the seasons changed, and closeup pictures of the branches, etc.  I didn’t get around to it, but I always wanted to!  I did take the children outside to look for signs of spring – I gave each child a clipboard and pencil (with lots of reminders about safety) and we were scientists making observations and looking for signs of spring!

They really loved doing this!  When we went back inside the children shared their observations with a partner, and then we made a list of important things we observed.

I hope it’s looking like spring where you are … here in Michigan we are still waiting!

How to Save the Earth!

I used to dread the recycling unit I was required to teach.  I just didn’t think it was all that interesting myself, and none of the projects, activities or books I found made it seem like fun.  But then I found some friends!

Joyce Davis is an early childhood educator who specialized in puppets and science, and she made learning anything so much fun!  She brought a whole bunch of different kinds of squash to one of her presentations – more than I ever knew of – and each one had jiggly eyes glued on.  As she developed simple characters from the squash – while giving great information about them, I found myself leaning forward, laughing and engaged with the squash!!  It was amazing – Joyce is amazing!   So I decided if Joyce could make puppets out of squash, I could make puppets by gluing eyes on recycle-able materials.  In fact, Joyce says you can make a puppet out of anything by gluing on a couple of jiggly eyes.

It really changed my attitude about this unit, it was so much fun telling the children that Patty Plastic did not want to get thrown in the garbage, and she begged them to save her!  Mikey Metal told of his fear of being squished after he saw someone step on a Coke can.  Peter Paper told the children that he loved it when people folded him, or cut things out of him, but he really didn’t want to end up in a garbage pile.  Gloria Glass thought she was more important than the others because she is breakable, and needs to be handled carefully; and she told them how much she loves the recycling center that gives hot showers and sends her off to be filled up again.

This was just a fun introduction to the whole topic of recycling, and ways we can keep the earth clean.  Young children often feel like they are too little to do anything important, so when we talked about conservation and recycling I liked to help them think of ways they could make a difference and to help save the earth.  We talked about how we could use less energy, and what makes the earth dirty – we made lists of things that make the land dirty, things that make the air dirty and things that make the water dirty.  Kindergartners are so concrete they usually keep talking about dropping garbage or trash, I tried to find books that helped them think about other ways we pollute the earth – and we learned the word pollution too!

Tomie de Paola wrote a great book called Michael Birdboy.

It really is a little strange – the main character dresses up like a bird every day and it never explains why, but Michael Birdboy loves nature, and gets upset when a black cloud comes and the flowers die, and birds get dirty.  He tracks down the source of the black cloud, and helps save the earth!

I talked with my Kindergartners about how they can reduce (use less), reuse, or recycle.  We learned simple sign language for these words, and this song too!

Here is one to print:

Recycling song

I left most of my recycling books at school but I had one called If a Tree Could Talk – it was one of those emergent readers from a teacher’s store.  We acted this out wearing costumes made from paper grocery bags (recycling!)


Basically it said if the earth could talk it would say not to pollute!

We made litterbug bags and went out and cleaned up the playground.

Here is an idea for a litterbug

Litterbug picture

But it might be more fun to let the children design what they think a litterbug would look like – and glue it onto a paper lunch bag.  We added writing to this project after discussing why we are NOT litterbugs.

Again, please add the type of lines that work best for your class to add their writing to this paper.

I am NOT a litterbug

I sent home a note asking each child to create something from materials that would otherwise end up in the trash. At my  school there was very little space to display projects, so I asked the children to bring all the projects on the same day and we had a recycling parade around the school.  All the kindergarten classes participated in this, and we just quickly walked through all the classrooms.  Of course each child shared his/her project with our class too!

Recycling Homework

It was really fun to see what they all came up with.  I tried to take an individual picture of each child with his/her project, and I made a book with a simple patterned sentence:

“Megan helped save the earth, she made _______________  from ________________.”

I tried to make enough books like this through the year so each child could take one home at the end of the year.

Here are some pictures of the childrens’ projects

I made hats out of newspaper for any children who did not bring in a project that day, so they could participate in the parade too!

For my own contribution to the parade I made a newspaper dress, including a purse for Roxie Heart, and she went with us on the parade.

I brought in real food packaging and we sorted things according to paper, metal, plastic and glass. Another visit from the recycling friends puppets was a great lead in to the sorting.  Then we made a book about recycling:

In our community we have curbside recycling, so this truck looked familiar to the children.  There are 2 copies on each page so you can xerox and collate these books, then cut them in half.

On each page the children glued a clipart picture of something made from that material, and a real item.  For the metal page I gave them each a small piece of aluminum foil, and they had a choice of a few clipart pictures of metal things.

Of course I couldn’t give the children a real piece of glass, instead they glued on 2 clipart pictures here – lightbulbs, photo frames, glass jars, etc.

I gave each child a small square of newspaper print to glue on along with clipart of books, notebooks, etc.

Sometimes I cut up a milk jug and gave each child a piece for this page, but it really needed to be stapled on.  Other times I cut up a report folder.

Here is the book to print:

Recycle book

We did another fun science experiment.  I talked with the children about how some materials do not disintegrate, even after many years.  I collected styrofoam packing pieces, some are made from corn starch and dissolve quickly in water.  A small group of children at a time took a few regular styrofoam pieces and put them in water, then wrote and drew about what they observed.  Then I gave them a few of the earth friendly packing pieces and they put them into the water, then drew and wrote about what they saw.

I hope you find some ways to have fun while talking about how to save the earth!

Earth!

I think Spring is a great time to tackle the science benchmarks about earth materials.  It leads very well into recycling, or studying the oceans, or living and non-living things!  Earth materials were recently added to our science benchmarks so this unit was still evolving!  I made up a song to reinforce the basic idea of what the children were expected to learn.  It is to the tune of My Bonny Lies Over the Ocean.

air, land, water song

I also found these pictures if you want to do any sorting about where living things belong, or which kinds of transportation go in air, land, water, etc.

air,land,water picture

And a pdf in case you want to print it!

If you do choose to reinforce living and non-living things along with this, or following this unit, I made up a little song for that too!

It is to the tune – Mary Had a Little Lamb

Living things song

I always found that learning a song is a great way to reinforce basic ideas to children.  Of course I also included lots of books, multi-sensory activities, discussions and projects!

I loved to make a paper mache earth.  Lots of children have never made a paper mache project before – if you haven’t done it – I just bought dry powdered wall paper paste (pretty cheap!) and tore newspaper into strips.  Then I blew up a big punch ball (really my husband blew it up for me!)  The children would put one strip of newspaper into the paste and pull it out between their 2 fingers – pointer and tall man – so most of the paste stayed in the tub but the whole strip was covered.  Then they just wrapped the entire balloon with strips, you won’t be able to even tell what color punch ball you began with.  I usually had 2-3 kids working on it at a time (with a parent volunteer!!)  Then we let it dry for several days – don’t put it in bright sunlight – one year the air inside expanded because it got so hot and it cracked open.  I usually put it in a basin or tub so it didn’t roll off the table, for both the paper mache and painting.  As it dried I turned it because the bottom part dried last.

Then get someone better in geography than me to draw a VERY SIMPLE outline of the continents.  Then I asked a couple of children to carefully paint them green.

I loved using Dr. Jean’s continents song from Sing to Learn – here are the lyrics and her suggestions.  If you don’t choose to use the CD it is to the tune of He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands.

Extend arms in a circle as if a globe. 

We’ve got the whole globe in our hands.
We’ve got the whole globe in our hands.
We’ve got the whole globe in our hands.
We’ve got the whole globe in our hands.

We’ve got North and South America
In our hands.
We’ve got Europe, Asia, Africa In our hands.
We’ve got Australia and Antarctica In our hands.
We’ve got the whole globe in our hands.

Activities:  Help children understand parts of a globe by relating them to their own bodies.
North Pole —  point to head;
South Polepoint to feet;
Equatorwaist;
Tropic of Cancerchest;
Tropic of Capricornknee cap.

I took a little liberty and changed it to world instead of globe because I wanted to reinforce the word world, and tie it to the word earth.  We did look at globes and used that word too – but I wanted to reinforce the fact that our world is our earth – and this is what it looks like.  I also used my own motions –

for WORLD – the children made sign language w’s with both hands and made a circular motion in front of themselves.

We had a big discussion about where the continents are, looking at a globe and our paper mache earth.  The children pointed in the air to the basic location of the continents on a flattened world map.  Maybe that seems strange to you – you might like Dr. Jean’s idea better – she wrote the song and has the PhD!

Here is my version:

Continents song

If you haven’t seen Dr. Jean’s site – it is wonderful!  She gives the lyrics of lots of songs and tons of activity suggestions – drjean.org!

Back to earth –

I made 2 different books with my classes to teach earth materials.

Earth materials book

Then we made a fun book out of construction paper.

For the cover the children cut a large oval out of 9 x 12 inch black paper.  Then they glued the title on top and wrote their name on the bottom with white crayon.

The rock page was gray, the children drew rocks on.

I mistakenly typed sand instead of soil on my first copy of this book – I changed it to soil!

Here are the masters for this book:

masters1

masters2

masters3

masters-4

masters-5

We made another earth project – I put turquoise paint and dish soap into a margarine dish about half filled with water.  Each child took a straw (with many reminders NOT to suck) and blew bubbles.  Then they traced a circle and placed it over the bubbles to make bubble prints – it makes a pleasing watery print!  Then the children took scraps of green construction paper and tore land pieces to glue on.  They looked great!

We followed up our unit on earth materials with recycling and ways to save the earth!!

Coming soon!

Haircuts for the Woolseys!

It was a beautiful day in Michigan yesterday …  and they are forecasting snow for later this week.  This is the perfect time to read a book like Tomie de Paola’s Haircuts for the Woolseys!  I mentioned this book in a couple of other posts (More retelling and Spring!) I guess you can tell I am a real fan of Tomie de Paola!

Anyway – I came across the template I used to retell the beginning, middle and end of this book, and I added it to those posts.  Hey – why don’t I add it here too?

Haircuts for Woolseys

Of course you can change this template for any story, or make the drawing spaces larger and the lines for writing smaller.  Earlier in the year I would not expect my class to write is such small areas, but by spring they were usually able to pretty well.

Here is the cover of the book!

 

Hope you are enjoying springtime too!

Seasons Song

Like most of you we talked about the 4 seasons all through the year in Kindergarten, I started with the seasons of an apple tree in the fall.  For each season we learned a verse of a song to the tune of The Saints Go Marching In.

 

We used sign language to add motions to these verses.  As we studied each new season we would review all 4, and practice saying them in order.

Here is a printable copy:

song words_0001

I usually had the children make this Seasons Song Book when we were studying spring.  I liked using songs that were very familiar to the children as the text for a book because it just about guaranteed that everyone could read it!   I enlarged the print and put it in a pocket chart and we practiced reading it while we sang.

By this time of year I had usually talked about contractions – although it was NOT part of our curriculum and I would not want it to be.  But when we were looking at poems, song words, or other texts we often saw contractions and so I explained what they were and how they worked.  This went over the heads of many children, but it was exposure.  It also gave me a chance to talk about apostrophes.  This song uses the word ‘you’ll’ so it gave me another opportunity to mention it.

I liked to include different art techniques on this type of books.  We usually cut and pasted a bird and nest on the spring page.  On this sun page I loved using a warming tray and melting crayons.  You should have an adult oversee it because the tray gets pretty warm, but I don’t think it would really burn a child.  An adult would peel the crayons using an exacto knife (or peeling it!) and the child would slowly color with it and watch it melt.  I usually peeled orange, yellow and red crayons for this sun page.

Sometimes we used paint with Q-tips for the leaves, or wadded up squares of tissue paper.

On this page I used white crayon, sometimes we used chalk or paint – or you could cut snowflakes!

You could arrange the pages in this book in any order, I began with spring because we did the book in the spring.

Here is a copy you can print if you like!

Seasons Song Book

Terry from California is working on changing the winter verse because it doesn’t snow there!  Here are a couple of ideas…

Seasons songs CA

Seasons songs CA2

For any of you who live where it does not snow in the winter, here is a replacement page for this book.  For an art project you could draw, cut out or decorate an umbrella – or water color paint a raindrop!

winter rain

Thanks for the great suggestion Terry!

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