We started the week with Animal ABC's, and a sensory box full of plastic zoo animals. After we read the book, the children dug in the sensory box for the animals, and then sorted them by initial letter. This was a fun, sensory activity that engaged the children, and let us review our letters all at once. After we completed this activity as a class, I made it available for free play too, and the children used it all week.
To follow up the whole class sorting lesson, the children made their zebra striped uppercase Z craft. Teachers prepared plain white paper with lines to show where the children would need to cut, and the kiddos glued torn black paper stripes onto the other side.
On Tuesday, we read two class-made books. One was an alphabet book illustrated with photos of a previous class at the zoo. (A is for aviary, B is for birds, etc.) The children helped me brainstorm lots of zoo animals, and what letters they start with. I wrote them all down, to prep for our field trips to the zoo, and for making a new photo alphabet book about the zoo with this year's kiddos.
We also read a copy of The Zoo Book by Heidi Butkus which we've been singing along with all week on YouTube.com. After we read the one made by last year's class, we illustrated a new one - OUR copy. The children love reading books that they helped to make!
We also made our lower case z craft, once again cutting out the letter z, and adding stickers and cut paper zoo animals.
Here are some of our completed letter crafts.
On Wednesday, I took 2 trips to the zoo. Boy, was I tired that afternoon! It's nicest all around to take a small group of kiddos, so I divide the kiddos into three groups of 4, take one group at a time, and leave the others at school with Ms. Julie. Next week, I'll take the final group!
The kiddos back at school made their z page for their individual alphabet photo albums. This page is a bit sparse looking, as I couldn't find clip art, stamps or stickers for zucchini, zither or zig-zag, and the zero looked like a letter o, so I didn't want to use it.
To prepare for the zoo field trips, and to make sure we get a picture for each letter of the alphabet, I made a list of animals for each group to look for. The first group went to the Museum of Living Art, and the birds, penguins and kangaroos, all located towards the middle of the zoo. The second group went to the far end of the zoo, to Texas Wild, and the last group will go to the African Savannah and Asian Falls areas. There isn't time to see the whole 64 acres of zoo in one trip, not with little legs that get worn out easily, so we try to see different areas on each trip.
MOLA and central areas of the zoo: C (cobra or crane), D (diamond back rattlesnake or ducks), F (flamingo, fish), I (iguana, insects), K (kangaroo, komodo dragon), N (newts), P (penguins, python), S (snake, scorpion), U (underground snake - the Louisianna Pine Snake), V (vulture, venemous vipers)
Texas Wild: A (alligator, ammonites-fossils in the Texas map near the entrance to Texas Wild), B (bald eagle, bobcat), J (jaguar), L (longhorn cow), M (mountain lion), O (otters), Q (quail), U (sea Urchins - touch tank in the Gulf Coast display), W (white tailed deer, wagon, wolf), X (in Texas, or in exit), Y (Yellow Rose Express train).
African and Asian animals: B (sun bears), E (elephant), G (gorilla), H (hippo), I (ibex), L (lion), M (monkeys, meerkats), O (ostrich, orangutan), R (rhino), T (tiger), W (warthog), Z (zebra).
On Thursday we read More Life Size Zoo by Teruyuki Komiva, but again, there are many choices of zoo themed books to choose from. Here are some others I have available for the children:
We followed up with a cute craft, creating our own zoo pictures with foam stickers. Simple, easy enough for the smallest kiddos, but still working fine-motor muscles for the preschoolers, and of course, the children had to write their name. It's hard to see from these photos, but they wrote "My name's Zoo" in the center of their picture.
On Friday, we made our zebra hand print crafts based on this one, and zucchini muffins. We used this recipe, because I was fairly sure that having chocolate chips in the muffins would convince everyone to at least try them. The ingredients looked yummy!
I had 3 small zucchinis to grate, and 12 kiddos to help, so I cut each zucchini into 4 pieces. One of the kiddos exclaimed, "Hey, that's in quarters, just like when we cut up bananas!" I love when they remember concepts weeks after I introduce them - it means they are really learning.
Each child got to put a piece of zucchini in the food processor to grate it. This was their first time to use the food processor, so they were very excited!
We all took turns adding another ingredient, and of course smelling the spices and chocolate chips.
At snack time we got to try them! They looked so good!
I had the children predict whether they thought they would like the zucchini muffins, and to graph our predictions. After tasting we checked to see what the actual results were - we are scientists, after all! The final veridct? Well, there were 48 mini muffins to start with, and here's what was left: