Today we decided to play with shapes. We started the day playing with shape puzzles. Melissa and Doug make a great one. You can also find templates of different shapes on pinterest and printouts to cut out your own shapes. I made a basic anchor chart to go over the pattern block shapes. We looked at the shapes and counted how many sides each one had. We talked about how polygons are multi-sided closed shapes. These shapes were made up of straight sides only. We listened to a song about polygons on youtube.
Next, we made crowns out of the shapes. I know it is tedious, but I spent an hour cutting out all of the pattern block shapes using templates from pinterest. I figured we would use these shapes in our crafts throughout the summer as an alternative to stickers. This way we could review the shape names every time we used them.
Next we used coloured glue to make patterns on our crowns. Squeezing the glue bottle to make little dots is wonderful to build a child's pincer grip. It also slows them down as they focus. We talked about how a pattern is something that repeats and the smallest part of the pattern is like a stamp that can repeat over and over again. This is called the pattern core.
For beginning writers, you can trace their names in yellow and have them practise writing in over top. Next for the preschoolers we reviewed the shape names as we put them on the crowns. For the older kids I challenged them to make a pattern with the shapes. I also tested them on the shape names. This was a great activity for children 2-7.
As a fun extension to this activity, we made watermelon shapes. I think this was the most popular shape activity of the day!
This week my kids found many caterpillars in our backyard so we started talking about the life cycle of a butterfly. We read non-fiction stories on this topic and listened to songs about metamorphosis. We listened to songs on butterfly migration as well: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B_1xC_nTDCY
We also did a butterfly yoga video on Cosmic Kids Yoga.
Today we decided to do a butterfly craft. For this craft you first fold a paper in half. Depending on the age you can draw the outline of the butterfly in various degrees of complexity. The next thing you do is use coloured glue to trace over the pencil lines. Crayola makes this glue but you can also put half paint in your glue bottle to get the desired colour.
When you are finished covering the outine with glue, fold the paper over onto itself and pat gently. When you open the picture you can talk to your child about the line of symmetry and the meaning of symmetry (a mirror reflection). This exercise is also wonderful for younger children to build their pincer grip and fine motor with the glue bottle. It also helps them trace different lines and prepare them for tracing and writing letter. If you decide to only use the primary colours in your butterfly you can teach your child these colours and any secondary colours that are made when two primary colours mix together.
Overall, we were very excited with the way this project turned out!
This week we decided to pull out the flower press. If you don't have a flower press you can use a thick book to do the same thing. Simply put the flowers between the pages and put the book back on your bookshelf. Just ensure that the book is wedged tightly on the shelf.
We then used the flowers to make our Father's Day card. This was a great activity to work on fine motor and visual spacial skills. To help each child with their writing I used various strategies. For Gavin who is 5 I traced the words out in yellow marker and he traced over the letters. Merryn who is 6 was given a word list to assist her.
For our next project we used the end of a head of romaine lettuce. We used this as a stamp. We mixed yellow and blue paints together and talked about primary and secondary colours. As we folded our pages in half we also talked about fractions and the line of symmetry on the page.
The cards turned out so well and it it kept the kids entertained for over half an hour.
This week Merryn and I made tiny terrarium or fairy gardens. In some of them we put little fairy figurines. Gavin decided to put a Ninja Turtle in his. This was a really easy project. First we put tiny stones at the bottom, followed by earth and larger stones on top. Then we added succulent plants. Many terrariums tell you to put activated charcoal to the soil. We experimented and used some on half of the terrariums we made. I think it will be fine without it but we shall see! All of the materials aside from the plant we got at dollarama. We also used old vases that we had at home.
Every time Merryn put in a big stone she said she had to make a wish on it. As a writing activity you could have your child write out some of their wishes. Another option would be to write the instructions so they could make the terrariums independently. Merryn opted to write a note to the fairy that was going to move into its new home. She loved this exercise so much she insisted we make a video of it to share with the class. Stay tuned!
This week my kids wanted to use the beads. I asked them if they could make a bracelet with a pattern. I made them a little simple pattern chart and asked if they could make any of the patterns. Before we got started my girls started organizing their beads in the muffin containers. We talked about how you can sort your beads by attribute such as colour, size and shape. We examined what attributes in the patterns changed after they had made their creations. We also looked at the smallest part of the pattern and I reminded them that this was called the pattern core. The pattern core is like a little stamp. If you were to stamp this part of the pattern over and over again to make it repeat you would have your pattern.
Spending so much time outdoors now as the weather is getting warmer, my kids and I thought we would me a game board for our back yard. We had an old tree stump and first drew straight lines with a ruler on the top to make the board game background. When we did this we talked about parallel lines and measured how long each line was in centimeters. Then we went on a scavenger hunt around the neighbourhood to look for flat stones. Next came the sensory fun as we got to paint the stones. We painted them yellow on one side and the next day painted them green on the other. After they were dry we used acrilic markers to draw xs and os on either side. Finally we coated the rocks with a watered down glue. This project took a few days but really only 15 minutes each time. So it really kept thier attention.
When it was done the girls played Tic-Tac-Toe. This was a great project for collaboration and in playing the game a lesson in strategy and taking turns.
This morning while we were playing with the hose something neat happened. The sun was shining behind us, went through the water and made a rainbow. This made us wonder how rainbows were made. After we were finished playing outside we looked up kid friendly videos to answer our question. We found a great site at Sci Show Kids on youtube:
We learned that all the colours of the rainbow are already in the sunlight but mixed together. When the sunlight moves through the water it bends and the colours separate making a rainbow. This action is called refraction. We learned that you can also make a rainbow by putting water in a glass and putting it in the sunlight.
After we were finished with our science experiments we decided to draw rainbows!
I showed my kids that there are different types of lines you can experiment with...although Merryn opted to go with the standard curvy line for her rainbow. When Merryn was done she wrote about what she learned. This was such a fun lesson for everyone. We also sang a couple of rainbow songs together!
Here are our favourites:
Last week we got a little note from a fairy that read:
I have been thinking about you. I want to make all your birthday wishes come true.
Make a party poster with your birthday plan and I will make all your wishes come true with fairies from my land!
Frankie the Fairy
Getting a note from a fairy was a great incentive for my kids to make a poster of their birthday wishes. They got straight to work! They made checklists of presents they would like, a guest list, a list of wishes and even a menu request. As a STEM and art task I had Merryn and Nyella design their cakes. This spilled into an activity in measurement, capacity, fractions and properties of solids and liquids when we baked the base of the cake together.
Another activity that came out of the birthdays was writing cards and an Art lesson. Kids Art Hub provides great lessons from Kindergarten onwards on how to draw birthday cakes and treats.
After the parties were done it provided a great opportunity to write about the experience as a narrative. In Kindergarten you can have your child draw 2-4 pictures of the best parts of their day and write a sentence under each part. For Grade 1-3 I have them write 4 sections (First, Then, Next and Finally.) and write details for each part. Another wonderful follow-up writing activity could be writing thank you cards!
This morning, we were listening to the song, "Going on a Bear Hunt" on Spotify. After we were done, I we watched the story going on a Bear Hunt on youtube.
After we did this we started working on some bear art. Gavin practised his fine motor skills by cutting out pictures of bears from an old calendar we had. The girls watched a video on Kids Art Hub about how to draw bears.
After we were finished this, I asked my kids if they wanted to go on an imaginary bear hunt. They did! Gavin was a little apprehensive until I let him know we would only be searching for teddy bears. I asked Merryn what we needed to bring and had her write a lits. Then we set off to the woods.
We took turns hiding the bears in the woods. It was so much fun.
After playing for over an hour, we headed home. That afternoon, Nyella wrote about her adventure. When I teach kids to write narratives, from K-grade 3, I have them divide their stories into 4 parts (First, Then, Next and Finally). In Kindergarten it may start as a picture for each part followed by a sentence underneath each picture. By grade 3, I have the kids write a minimum of 3 sentences for each part. If they are stuck on details I ask them to reflect on how they felt or what they were thinking. I also ask them to add dialogue or sound effects to make the story pop!
Other writing options could be:
*Writing in role as the Teddy Bear
*Interviewing the Teddy Bear
*Writing a story about the bears
*Making a comic of the teddy bear hunt
*Writing a song about the adventure
*Making up a dance to the Bear Hunt song and writing down the steps...
So many possibilities! Overall, it was so much fun.
Play can be messy. So can cheeky toddlers. Since spending so much time at home it has felt more challenging to keep on top of the mess. So, I decided to turn it around and help the kids take responsibility for helping to run our household. To illustrate this point with the kids I showed them this picture of Gavin. I asked them, what would happen if one person in the house had to tidy up everyone's messes all the time? They realized after some prompting that that is too much work for one person. So we decided we all need to be responsible for helping around the house.
After listening to this, Nyella thought of the book Jillian Jiggs. This is a great story about teaching kids to tidy up their rooms! Her Mum exclaims to Jillian, "Jillian, Jillian, Jillian Jiggs, it looks like your room has been lived in by pig! Nyella decided she wanted to jump in the story and be Jillian. She quickly made a mess of her room and after we reenacted the story she worked to tidy her room
Next we talked about what jobs the would each like to do to help around at home. I made a list of possible jobs and the kids got to include it on their chore chart. Choice is key. Also, I let them know that they didn't have to do these chores everyday but each chore they did do would earn them 25 cents. This helps them work on counting by 25s and teaching them about money. It also helps them with the days of the week as at first I reviewed at the end of each day how many chores they had done. Immediate reward helps increase incentive at first.
Another great incentive to have the kids help with the cleaning was to make a natural cleaner with them that they could use.
This was also another great opportunity to let my kids experiment with measurement and practise their writing skills. Having ownership on their very own cleaner was a huge incentive for them. Soon, all of our windows and many of our surfaces were spotless. Most importantly, the kids were focussed, working as a team and occupied for over an hour. Everybody won here!
Here I will share some every day activities that can draw from various strands across different age groups. Remember each child has different interests so the key to working with your child is to follow their lead and ask the right questions.