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Thursday, January 30, 2014

Trains, turtles and trees for T

 This week started out with another cool box creation!  My neighbors brought me another box, and the cardboard corner pieces begged to become a ball track.  We rolled ping pong balls (yes, I rolled some too,) whenever the box was available.  I finally retired the bean box midweek, when all the beans were spread all over the floor.  Twenty-one ping pong balls are easier to pick up than 3000 beans!

Learning about trees (and more!) for the letter T
 One of the things I wanted to include this week was more science. 
We started learning about trees by brainstorming what the children know or think they know.  This is called activating prior knowledge - basically, if they're thinking about something, it's easier to add new knowledge onto what they already know.
Learning about trees (and more!) for the letter T

Learning about trees (and more!) for the letter T
 We made models of trees; a half art, half science activity.  As they painted we talked about the parts of the tree, and I introduced the word "trunk" - I was surprised no-one knew that word when we made our chart!  We talked about making the roots under the ground as big as the branches above, and that roots branch out too.  Here are our finished trees, with all the parts labelled.
Learning about trees (and more!) for the letter T

Learning about trees (and more!) for the letter T
 Another tree project we did was one with concentric circles for leaves.  We looked at Kandinsky's paintings of concentric circles, then made our own.  The oldest kiddos cut out their own circles, the younger ones had precut circles.  We talked about shapes a lot this week!
Learning about trees (and more!) for the letter T
 You can see all our beautiful concentric circle trees at www.artsonia.com.

Learning about trees (and more!) for the letter T
 Here's what the children knew about trees a couple of days later.  They were very impressed to know chocolate comes from beans on a tree!  They learned new vocabulary - trunk, learned about more products from trees (cardboard, hockey sticks, rubber, maple syrup),  and learned that green leaves breath and make food for trees, and make oxygen for us to breathe too!  I'm impressed with how much these 3-5 year old kiddos know!

We also learned a lot about turtles this week - mostly sea turtles.  We did an awesome art project:
 On the first day we water colored an ocean background with cool colors.  The kiddos worked very hard to cover their papers with color!
 The next day they painted the turtles.  I showed them a model of a sea turtle, and we noticed the shape (oval), counted flippers, and noticed that the front flippers were long and curved.  They followed step by step directions to make beautiful turtles.
 When they were dry the teachers cut them out, and the children glued their turtles onto the ocean background.  Beautiful!  You can see all of them at www.artsonia.com.

Our turtle study wouldn't be complete without acknowledging a certain group of 4 teenaged turtles.  I knew TMNT would engage the kiddos, particularly some of the boys who often wear turtle clothes to school, but I didn't want a day of Ninja wars and t.v.-related pretend.  Here's our compromise:
I made a chart comparing Ninja Turtles to sea turtles, and the children told me all the answers for Ninja turtles.  Next, I read a beautiful realistic fiction book about a loggerhead turtle: One Tiny Turtle, by Nicola Davies.  As I read, the children listened to find out what loggerheads eat, where they live, how big they grow, and other cool facts.  The kiddos remembered all the relevant facts!
We finished our turtle theme with a snack that looks like one.  I put peanut butter on Ritz crackers, and the kiddos added almonds for heads, cashews and peanuts for flippers, and topped it with another cracker for the carapace (shell).

 Of course, we did our usual activities: upper and lower case letter crafts, hand and foot prints, and our abc albums.

Some of the hand and foot print art doesn't require much work from the children, and I've been thinking that perhaps I need to change that.  Painting hands, and especially feet, this week, reminded me of what a fun sensory experience it is for the children to feel the brush as it spreads the paint, and the lovely squishy feeling of paint between their toes.  They love this activity, and that is enough sometimes!  For more hand and foot print ideas, check out pinterest.

Finally, here are some trains we made while talking about and reviewing the names of shapes.  This clever idea came from Counting Coconuts.

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