I can't imagine a better time of year to talk about the letter "T" and trees, tape, and twigs. What a perfect example of springtime than to be able to see a birds nest built with twigs up close!
Let me back up a bit so that no one thinks we robbed a momma bird of her little babes!! Over the past winter and early spring a friendly wood pecker decide that the side of our house was the perfect place to display his expertise. Night and day we could hear him drilling holes in the siding of our house. It sounded like a jack hammer in the walls, especially at 5am! But, not quite knowing what to do, we waited him out, figuring he would tire and move on...that he did. However, other critters opportunistically commandeered the space and took up residence. Specifically, robins... Once the little eggs hatched the chirping in the walls became quite LOUD...at...all...hours...of ...the...night... At this point a very nice man came out of professionally removed the nests, fixed the holes in the siding and in the process allowed our little preschoolers to have a peak at the downy covered babies. We looked at the nest and observed all the twigs intertwined together. We talked about how mother birds build their nests with spit, dirt, twigs, and weeds. We talked about the importance of trees keeping the babies safe from animals that might hurt them. We listened to them chirp and watched them wiggle around the nest. We talked about how the momma feeds her babies and then the hunt for worms was ON! This was a great introduction to our letter "T", tape, twigs, and trees study and the children were EXCITED! We were so thankful for the time we were allowed to see these babies up close (careful not to touch) until they were place in a location safe and close to their original "hole in my wall" habitat.
We will also report that the mother found the babies and immediately began her care for them again...
Natural play...and why it's important
"Children learn by constructing their own knowledge about the world, not by memorizing facts." (Piaget 1962). Getting children out to play is not an effort to take a break from them, but rather a very important part of their education. Digging for worms, finding the bugs, roots, and different types of rocks in the ground and the discovery of birds, bushes, growing plants, nests and grasses are all a necessary element of child development. I have attached a link to a long, but good article in the importance of nature for children. Click on the title below to direct you to this informative article by fellow Kansas Citian, Randy White
Young Children's Relationship with Nature:
Its Importance to Children's Development & the Earth's Future by Randy White
Exuberant play...this is one of my favorite things. It doesn't matter how little our little ones are, they LOVE get their bitty hands on the squishy stuff! This week as we began our study on the letter T and turtles, we got out our especially green and brown playdough and began smushing, smashing and molding it into turtles. This little man was particularly into his play this morning and luckily I was able to capture his excitement. We use playdough on a daily basis as one of our "free play" choices. It calms the agitated child, excites (as above) the interested child and is a GREAT teaching tool. We use it to make animals, bowls, snakes, turtles, letters, numbers, pies, finger/thumb/ and footprints, shapes...I think you get the idea. Its great for fine and large motor development, creativity, sequence games, matching, size and pattern differentiation, adding and subtracting, fractions, learning to use knives, scissors, forks and spoons, spatulas and tongs. The possibilities are ENDLESS for this simple concoction of fun. I make it with the below recipe and it turns out great. You can add any color of food coloring or combinations to make it rainbow dough. I add spice in the winter months to make "gingerbread" cookies, citrus (imitation flavoring) in the spring to make "fruit" and all types of glitter, sequins and small "hide and seek" items. Playdough is currency in preschool land and we are RICH with it!
3 cups flour
1.5 cups salt
6 tsp. cream of tarter
3 tbsp. oil
3 cups water
Cook over low heat constantly stirring as it forms into a ball. Add flavorings and colorings during the mixing process. Keep in an air tight bowl or ziplock baggie for freshess.
Happy Birthday to YOU!
Want some fun...two ingredients...water and dirt (oh yes, and children!!)!
And so...you may be asking yourself, "Why on EARTH would I take my child to a preschool so they can just make mud??? Well, actually there is an excellent answer for this. Most parents these days do not allow their children to go outside and do this. There is a great book on the topic, "The Last Child in the Woods," by Richard Louv discusses the disconnect of our children in their technological world and the "real" world all around them. "The Postmodern notion that reality is only a construct - that we are what we program - suggests limitless human possibilities; but as the young spend less and less of their lives in natural surroundings, their senses narrow physiologically and phsychologically, and this reduces the richness of the human experience." Richard Louv. He, and other Early Childhood experts suggest that their is a very close correlation between children not having meaningful natural outdoor experiences and the increase in childhood disorders like ADD and ADHD and many others. So...if a little mud is what it takes, I am happy to oblige!
For our letter "T" week we thought talking about turtles would be FUN! My children all love animals, as I am certain yours do too, and ANYTHING animal is always a BLAsT! We began our week making little brown turtles with green legs. We discussed that turtles have four legs (we mainly stuck to discussions about land turtles), tall, hard shells and that they carry their homes on their backs ALL the time. This was an adorable week. We also got out boxes (hard shell) and practiced carrying those on our backs (great large muscle and balancing play). After a very short time they were IN the boxes too. SO, we also discussed how turtles (and why) they will tuck their soft little legs and head into their shells. We only had a couple of appropriately sized boxes and also had to share...though this proves a challenge it was also great "sharing" practice.
This was also a good opportunity for social/emotional topics like "How do you feel when you are afraid?", "What do you do when you are scared?", "Do you hide in a blankie, like a turtle in his shell?" We had lots of "talk" time about this and we DID decide that hiding in a blankie is far more comfortable than hiding in a box, like a turtle. We talked about turtle names, like the "box turtle and "sea turtle." We also discussed that some turtles have flippers and swim in the ocean. We learned that the ocean turtles are VERY fast, but that the land turtles are slow. We also learned that land turtles have tall shells, while sea turtles have flat shells. This too was a great chance too compare and contrast sizes.
During our reading times we read our turtle books Now I Know Turtles by Melvin and Gilda Berger, Getting To Know Nature's Children by Grolier Publishing and Sea Turtles by Gail Gibson. During MANY other reading times we also read...
More T STUFF...
These are the finished product of our turtle mosiacs. First we started with brown circles, added green oval legs and a tear drop shaped head. Then we added triangle, semi-circle and diamond shapes of various colors to their turtle backs. The different developmental stages are so fun to watch in projects like these. The one's placed just one or two shapes on the backs, then scrunched and crumpled the turtles, tore off their legs and ended up having their little paper fella's repaired several times. The two's, in proper two year old fashion, piled glue (LOTS) on their turtles backs and dumped LOTS of shapes in a pile atop the glue. The three's and up took their time, thinking about, planning and carefully placing each little piece on their turtle. Sometimes they would quickly pick up a shape and replace it with another or ask to start over with a new plan.
Last, but not least...I think THIER favorite craft was the turtle counting train. We cut out an engine and many train cars and placed turtles on each car. We counted our turtles from 1-3 for the one year olds, 1-5 for the twos and 1-10 for the older ones. Even our two year olds can count to thrity, BUT placing numbers, in order, from left to right, is a much more advanced skill than simply counting. Its a developmental milestone and there are three different types of numbers we teach simply by "talking" to our children. They are cardinal, ordinal and nominal numbers. For an easy explanation see this site. We are teaching, teaching, teaching with every set of 10 crackers we count out, every game of Hide and Seek, even when you are counting 1, 2, 2 and 1/2, 3! :)).. Every moment is a teachable moment in toddler/preschool world. I am priviledged to be a small part of it.
Life is made of moments...
"There isn't anything more full of hope, joy and peace than a child's smile... It captures the mundane and makes it extraordinary." - LaDonna Woolsey
I am a Mother Goose Time Blogger. I decided to become one after trying their products because I they are comprehensive and serve my mixed age group well. I do receive products to review from Mother Goose Time and do so with my own honest and thorough opinions. For more information, please contact me at Ladonna@woolseyacademy.com