Yesterday, when the kids came down for breakfast they found a note waiting for them. It was from a magical mystery creature. When they came back from playing outside they found that this creature had left them a little house to set up in the garden. The creature said behind the door lay secret lands at their command.
Later that day they found another note. The mystery creature asked them to set up the house in the yard and write them a letter. In this letter they needed to ask questions so they could uncover who left the note.
Today when the kids came down for breakfast they found this note. After reading it they inferred that a fairy had left this note. We decided to learn to draw a picture of a fairy on Kids Art Hub (youtube).
As a STEM activity, Merryn decided to create more mushroom houses for the fairy's friends. As a movement break we also did a fairy themed dance video on Cosmic Kids Yoga.
We will see where this story goes. The benefit to having a magic visitor is that it puts the kids in the story. Based on their questions and interests they get to shape where the story goes. If they are like dragons or Lego characters they could be the ones leaving the notes. The magical door can lead to wherever their imagination takes them.
This morning as we were playing outside, we found a family of snails under a bush at the back of our garden. We decided to make a snail terrarium. Making a snail terrarium is very easy. You will need the following:
*A glass or plastic container with a lid you can put holes in
*Branches and rock
*Leaves and other food
We first put a bit of soil at the bottom of our vase, along with some rocks and two twigs for climbing. We then put in some of the leaves the snails were chomping on inside. To find out what kinds of foods snails like we looked here. https://www.wikihow.com/Care-for-Garden-Snails. We read that it was important that snails get fresh food daily and the container is kept moist. You can do this by spraying it once a day with a spray bottle.
After we placed a yogurt lid top with holes in it in the opening of the vase we took the snails inside. We decided to research a bit about snails as a morning project. First we learned that snails hibernate in the winter and start to come out in the spring when the conditions are damp. We looked at the parts of a snail. Then we researched what type of animal a snail is. We learned that snails are snails are molluscs, like oysters and clams. We also learned that snails have both male and female organs. This led us to look at the life cycle of a snail.
Some neat follow up activities for this inquiry could be:
*Drawing our own diagrams of snails
*Writing out a mini report on the most interesting facts we learned about snails.
*Writing a list of names for our snails.
*Measuring how far a snail could travel in 10 minutes.
*Having a snail race :)
*Making different paths for snails out of loose parts.
*Writing a story about our snail.
*Writing interview questions for our snails.
Today we looked at patterns in nature. When we looked at the daffodil growing in our yard we were inspired to draw flowers of our own. This was a great way to teach the idea of radial symmetry. Radial symmetry is when a shape is symmetrical around a central axis. To show the kids this, you first draw a circle and cut it into equal fractions. The daffodil is symmetrical (well nearly) in 6 equal parts.
Once you have divided your circle into 6 equal fractions of 1/6 you show your child how what ever you do in one fraction you have to do in the others.
Just like in nature, when the kiddos drew their pictures they were not exactly symmetrical. This is what made each one unique and gave it the artist's signature!
After watching many birds land on our bird feeders yesterday, the kids decided that they wanted to make bird houses/feeders. The first thing we did was research different designs for our bird houses online. The kids picked recycled plastic containers for their creations. I had them first draw a picture and plan out what they wanted their birdhouses to look like. Some other things I had them consider.
*What material should we use to make the house? What kinds of materials will withstand the rain and snow?
*How much seed do you want it to hold?
*Where should the opening be depending on how much food it is going to hold?
*What other animals might try to eat the food? How can we prevent this?
*What do you want to decorate it with? Will this withstand the rain?
*How can we hang it so it stands up straight?
*Where will the birds sit when they are eating?
Once you have hung your bird feeder keep a lookout for birds coming for a quick snack. You can fill in a bird-watching checklist found on the link below!
Bird to Watch for in Spring Checklist:
Our little feathered friends are famished in the spring! Spring is the season when birds return from their winter migration and start nesting. During the spring parents need lots of food so their babies have the right nutrients to grow. Also, the availability of natural food for wild birds doesn’t really peak until late summer and early fall. Here is one type of bird feeder you can make at home with your kids.
2 cups bird seed
2 packs of gelatine
3/4 cup boiling water
Mix the gelatine with the water and pour it on the seed mixture.
Put it in cookie cutters and fill it with the mixture.
Place straws or small sticks inside each cookie cutter so you will be able to tie on a string later.
As a literacy connection, have your child write out the steps and add them to their recipe book. We found we didn't have enough cookie cutters so we made some with aluminum foil and a pipe-cleaner. Finally, place the tray in the fridge for 5 hours or...even better overnight.
Hang your bird feeders outside and get your binoculars ready! Make a tally of how many birds you see come for a snack. Draw a picture and label it of one bird you see coming to have a feast!
Kids live in their imagination and take on different roles naturally while they play. As they do this they are writing stories and scripts. Writing is more meaningful to kids if it is based on something of high interest to them. For emergent writers they also need to say what they want to write out loud before they put it down. They need the hands on and physical aspect of it before they move to the abstract, which is the writing piece.
A perfect learning extension for emergent writers is to write in role. You can do this in a few ways:
*When the play is over have them draw a picture of their character. Have them touch their picture and first say out loud what it is about. Then help them write the sentences.
*You can go into role as a talk-show host or journalist and interview them in character. Have your child fill out an interview form and answer your set questions.
*They can write a 5 finger story about their character. Have them give you 5 details about the character.
*They can draw an adventure their character was on. Here they can draw what happened: First, Then, Next and Finally. After they have done this they can touch each picture one at a time and add some writing to explain what is happening in the picture.
*They can make a comic and use speech bubbles to explain the action.
I find if I go into role the writing becomes just an extension of the play. It is a really fun incentive. Kids love it when you play with them because you are speaking their language! :)
Today we did something very simple. We looked for seeds around our house and researched how we could grow them. We learned that you could plant a pine cone straight in a pot! Here are the instructions:
While prepping dinner and eating snacks we also dug for seeds! We took seeds out of a pear a squash and an avocado. The pear and avocado instructions were to just to place these seeds in potting soil. The avocado was a little trickier! Here are the instructions we found together.
At our house we celebrate Easter. Over the course of the week we engaged in a lot of Easter themed activities. The first one was making Easter Bunny Cookies. For this recipe you make a basic sugar cookie and flip gingerbread cookie cutters to make the silhouette of a bunny. This activity was a hit with all three kids. This activity provided plenty of opportunity for learning such as fine motor skills, sensory play, following instructions, recipe/procedural writing and letter writing. As I have mentioned in a previous post, it is also a great way to look at chemistry, measurement, capacity and fractions.
When we were finished making the cookies, after reading an article about whether delivering baked goods in acceptable under the COVID-19 pandemic, we felt it was safe to deliver cookies to our neighbour across this street. This was a fun opportunity to incorporate letter writing.
Another fun activity we did this week was to learn to draw Easter themed pictures on Kids Art Hub on youtube. The Easter egg lesson taught the kids about overlapping shapes in a picture to give a neat effect. The kids loved this.
One morning we found a note from the Easter Bunny outside our house. The Easter Bunny just wanted to check in and see how the kids were doing during this pandemic and see if they could help him figure out how to deliver their treats safely. Merryn decided to write back to the Easter Bunny and tell him to wear a mask while visiting our house.
Today, we also prepared a couple of things for our windows. The first thing we made was a Happy Easter sign. The second thing we did was to plant carrot seeds so we would have a supply for the Easter Bunny when he came back to visit next year. When we did this we talked about what seeds need to grow. They need to have their seed coast softened with water or rain and be at the right temperature. We talked about how seeds have a food store inside of them and how when they are read, an embryo pokes out of the seed. Roots grow down into the soil and the shoots grow up towards the sun. We also experimented by putting the carrot top in water to see if it would grow a shoot.
On Easter, we decided to do an egg experiment. For this project you need eggs, shaving cream and food colouring. You put shaving cream in a dish, put in food colouring, give it a swirl with a chop stick and then gently immerse the eggs, carefully folding over the shaving cream. After 20 minutes you wipe them off and voila! Marbled eggs. To expand this activity we decided to try it with plastic eggs as well. We examined the eggs and predicted which ones would turn out better.
Spoiler-alert...the plastic eggs did not work at all. We learned the real eggs are more porous so can absorb the colour. The plastic eggs are not.
After Easter we wrote good old fashioned thank you notes to the Easter Bunny.
I am not going to lie...it used to be that every Friday night was movie night at my house but since the pandemic...every night has been movie night. As a result of this, my kids are obsessed with the movie Aladdin so we decided to have an Aladdin themed day.
The trick to getting reluctant writers to write is to:
1) Helping them expand on something they already love
2) Giving them choices
I let my kids know they could pick 4 of the activities on the sheet to earn a middle of the day movie! This was great because they didn't all have to do the same thing and it also gave them some alone time while doing separate tasks. The older girls loved making movie tickets and all the kids loved drawing characters from Aladdin using Kids Art Hub on youtube. Gavin enjoyed colouring in one of the pictures. Merryn and Gavin loved singing along to the soundtrack of the movie and we also played freeze dance to this as well.
While Merryn and Gavin played on imaginary magic carpets in the yard, Nyella decided to plan a story about where she would go on a magic carpet. Remember for reluctant writers doing a visual plan can help with the final writing task.
This turned out to be a wonderful way to spend the morning. Let's see what movie sparks their interest next!
Last week with help from a friend, we rescued our worm bin from our classroom. My kids were excited to learn about what worms do for the soil. They learned that when worms break up food and organic matter such as leaves and small twigs they add nutrients to the soil such as nitrogen. This helps plants grow. We also talked about how worms can help us recycle our food scraps and turn them into fertilizer for our plants. The nitrogen worms add to the soil acts like plant food.
As soon as the worms came to our house we searched around our garden for organic waste to give them. We found dead leaves we were going to put in the compost and threw them in. We also pulled up old plants from plant pots and put them into the mix. While we did this we looked at different roots.
When we stirred up the worms we noticed there were hundreds of new babies. We talked about the life cycle of a worm. We also started to think about what else we could feed the worms!
If you would like to make a mini worm bin at home here is how. There is even an observation sheet so you can write down what you notice in your worm bin over a couple of days. Here is also a story you can watch on youtube called: Diary of a Worm. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9y6Mtll5b0w
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.