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.
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.
We also learned a lot about turtles this week - mostly sea turtles. We did an awesome art project:
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).
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.