Welcome to Paula's Preschool and Kindergarten! My class blog is the place I share information about some of the fun learning activities we are doing at school. I hope to provide parents with insight into what we are doing, and why, and to share ideas with other early childhood educators. Please don't use the photos or text of this blog without permission, but please do use any ideas you find useful. Thank you for stopping by!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Oceans of fun with letter O

I love teaching about the letter O, and all the fun ocean activities we can do for it!  It seems I've managed to accumulate a lot of cool ocean resources over the last 20 years.  Here's some of what we did this week.
We started our week by reading a realistic fiction book about an octopus.  The children are already very familiar with fiction and non-fiction, so they wanted to know which this book was.  I told them their moms and dads would be very impressed if the kids remembered to tell their parents they've learned a new category of books!            
  
 Next we sorted some plastic animals, into those that live on land (including some amphibians that also need fresh water), and those that live in the ocean.  We learned that while most crocodiles need fresh water, Australian salt water crocs do swim in the ocean, and there are sea snakes as well as land snakes.  Cool!
 To help develop fine motor dexterity, I put out an "ocean" full of small sharks and whales for the children to pick up with ocean themed chopsticks.
 All the plastic ocean animals went into a large sensory tub full of torn crepe paper. 
 We also had a large clam shaped bowl full of shells to sort and observe.  The children were fascinated!  I have a couple that are broken so that we can see the spirals inside, and that's really awesome!  When we use the real shells, we sit on the floor with them, and handle them over a soft cloth, so if they fall they aren't likely to break, and there won't be sharp pieces.

Each child cut out their orange uppercase O, and painted an octopus on it.  For our lowercase o craft they cut out their o, and glued on paper overalls.


We did some ocean themed math games, as well as others that are available regularly.  We sorted ocean critters by color, and sorted plastic shapes into ocean/land categories.

 We also put dolphins in numerical order, which involves recognizing the numbers as well as ordering them.
 To the geoboard learning, I added number cards for the children to replicate.  These two kiddos made congruent number fours!  (Two shapes are congruent if they are the same size and shape.)

 We sorted shapes into oval/ not ovals.  This kiddo also sub-grouped by color!


 We played in our ocean tent.  I made this tent years ago, it fits over a card table, and ties onto the table legs on the inside.  We took lots of ocean themed stuffed animals in the tent, and had lots of pretend play.
 I took everyone's photo in front of the ocean tent with the toy octopus, to go in our abc photo albums, facing their page of o stickers and stamps.

For kiddos who are working on numbers to 100, I've created a fun set of ocean hundreds charts.  Here is our crabby!  (I really love the shark too!)

For our cooking activity this week, we tried out a new recipe that I found via pinterest.com: baked oatmeal muffins.  YUM!  You can get the recipe here.  As you can see from our ingredients, this recipe is full of healthy things, with only a few chocolate chips added that aren't quite as healthy.  (Unless you subscribe to the chocolate IS a food group theory, in which case, this recipe is perfect!)
 Everyone had a turn to put an ingredient in, and of course there was smelling various ingredients, lots of hand washing, and a couple of minor spills involved.  Fortunately both children and counter tops are washable!

 When we put in honey, the kiddos helping at that point had a taste.  They LIKED the honey!



 Once it was thoroughly mixed, I put it in mini muffin pans and baked it for 18 minutes.  I always make mini muffins for the kiddos, because they love tiny things, and because their tummies don't always want an adult sized muffin.  A side benefit is that if they take a bite and don't like it, there's just a little to throw away compost. 
 Almost everyone liked these tasty muffins!  The recipe made 48 mini muffins, and I made a second batch midweek, which disappeared completely.  I'm definitely adding this recipe to our snack and breakfast foods, and will have the children cook it each year during the letter O week.

Here are our cute hand prints for the letter O, you can see other hand print ideas I like on my pinterest board here.



One of my students is named Olivia, so of course we had to read the book Olivia by Ian Falconer! We noticed that Olivia, the character, only wears red - with occasional touches of black and white.  We made Olivia crafts, wearing red, of course!  I got the idea here, but modified it to look more like the character.  I've included a picture of the pattern I created, below, in case you'd like to try it yourself.  This was great cutting and gluing practice for my 3-5 year olds, and they were very proud of the finished product!


Another terrific book we read this week was I'm The Biggest Thing In The Ocean, by Kevin Sherry.  It is told from the point of view of a giant squid, who thinks he's the biggest thing in the ocean, until he is eaten by a whale!  The kids love this book, and the brightly colored, simple illustrations are wonderful.  I wanted to make this a science lesson as well as a language lesson, so we learned more about giant squid from youtube and Smithsonian, before following up with a craft.

We trimmed colored copier paper for the mantle, and rolls of crepe paper for the 8 arms and 2 feeding tentacles.  You may notice that some of the tentacles are narrower than the others.  As we worked, I discovered that that the crepe paper was too wide to fit in one layer on the squid's mantle, and that glue sticks weren't the right adhesive.  School glue and half width crepe paper were just right!
If you'd like more activities to go with this book, you may like:
https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Activities-for-the-book-Im-The-Biggest-Thing-in-the-Ocean-math-science-craft-2811307

Next week we'll focus on the letter P, check back to see what learn about penguins, pigs, pizza, and Pooh bear!


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