Saturday, March 31, 2012

Kindergarten Blooms!

After completing the Living and Non-Living, Animals unit, it's time to move on to plants!  It is a bit harder for the kids to understand that plants are living.  They seem to think that living means you make sound! :)

Since I have killed my fair share of plants, I always have a dead houseplant somewhere I can bring in to prove that plants are living things and can die.  I left one outside last year one night too many, got killed by the cold temps.  I just left it there to bring in with this unit - instant science lesson! :)   Of course, the kids are shocked that their teacher killed something!

So now we are moving on to the needs of plants.

 This video has the same tune as the one I used with animal needs, so they kids picked it up quickly.

* One way to easily demonstrate the needs of plants is to purchase two small plants that would be okay in the classroom for a bit.  (Like a few marigolds, pansies, etc.)  Take care of one, and cover the other with a shoebox and leave it alone.  Check it every other day for signs of death!

On to plant parts and life cycle.

I was rather shocked when not one of my students could produce the term "roots" when we started this lesson.  They really have had little experience with them, and we live in a rural area where most everyone has some sort of garden!

To really bring the word to life we went outside.  Thankfully, the grass had not had it's first mowing of the season yet, so of course we found lots of dandelions.  But first, I was concentrating on roots.  We observed the roots of the two large trees in the school's front yard, and then I dug up a couple of "weeds" so they could get up close and personal with them.

They were so excited to see the dandelions, or "wishing flowers".  They had no idea that the yellow flowers and "wishing flowers" were the same thing!  Everyone picked a dandelion, either in flower or seed form, and we pulled as many of the dandelion leaves as we could to bring in to feed the class guinea pig, Simba.

We brought in the plants, and passed out magnifying glasses to observe the roots, stems, seeds, and flowers.  This video from cookie has decent animation of the life cycle of a plant.  I recommend, however, turning off the sound and doing your own narration.

We drew diagrams of a flower, and to incorporate needs they drew the soil (which they are trying to remember as a "fancy" word for dirt), sun, and water drops, and a few wavy lines for air. I did this on the smartboard and and wrote the terms at the end.

Activities, projects, and resources: ( I know we all grow plants, do a lot of the same activities, read the same books. Trying to present new ideas I've found or done that will bring more meaning and play!)

*Whenever they sit in the floor, we "plant our roots in the garden" (sit on our bottoms) "grow our stems straight" (sit up straight and tall) "flowers face the sun" (look at the teacher - yep!  That's me, Little Miss Sunshine) and put our "leaves" in our laps.

This video will help kids learn the basic parts of a plant.  They like to correct her and say it takes more than sun and showers, they have to have soil, air, and space, too. :)

*This booklet worksheet does a nice job of incorporating plant parts, needs, and life cycle. There's not enough for the kids to "do" rather than tracing and coloring.  My idea for incorporating this:

Show on the smartboard if you have one and work on reading it together.  Make a few copies on cardstock, laminate, and put in writing center. To scaffold, trace the words and color the parts with the same color (i.e. on second page shown in pin below, trace and color seeds with a green marker, trace and color soil with brown) Give the students blank mini books, and have them write their own plant books, with the instructions they cannot simply copy the text from the book.  Diagrams and labels, or their own sentences!  I would have this be a multi-day process, so they can really take their time and do a nice job.

*Sprout beans in CD cases.  Add soil, and the kids will be able to watch it grow roots and sprout!  To get them started and excited, show this time lapse YouTube video of radish seeds sprouting.

*This site has gorgeous plant photo cards - foods from plants, plant life cycle.  Great for matching, sequencing, even displaying with vocabulary.  Thinking of making a plants file folder for the writing center with the photos and their vocabulary terms, or printing and labeling to put into a plant words 3 prong folder with page protector.

*YouTube Tiny Seed by Eric Carle - using this during computer center as a listening center. (Warning, the background music  is calming.  Don't let kids listen when they are tired, or they will all be asleep!)

BBC has a great computer game that your kids can do independently (if you have headphones).  They water a plant and watch it grow, label the parts, and then there is a pretty good 10 question quiz that children can click on the volume to have read to them).

Feed the animals!

*If you, or anyone in your school, has a class guinea pig or other herbivore,  grow a salad garden in a container for it's food ( and hey - you won't have to pack your salad anymore.  Just keep a bottle of dressing in the fridge and cut off a few leaves for you! :) I had thought about  container carrots, but it's too late in the school year for that since they take 60-80 days to have carrots to eat, and we have 60 days left of school!!!!!  I might start it early next year as part of our guinea pig care at the beginning of the year.

* Grow a grass small world Buy a couple of aluminum casserole dishes - the kind you freeze lasagna in.  Plant it generously with grass seeds, and when the grass grows, you have a couple of "small worlds" for the kids to play in.  Add dinosaurs, jungle animals, fairies, tractor and farm animals, little loose parts from nature, the possibilities are endless!

*Plant grass seeds in clear punch cups.  Let the students cut out eyes, noses, mouths from magazine to create "grass people" (or something slightly less....illegal sounding).  Or just use construction paper to create their own. They can style it's hair (I'm thinking pigtails for my little grass girl!) OR if you have sunny D small bottles floating around, they are great for this, too.  If you have photos of your students, their pictures glued (modge podged?) onto the cups with the grass as their own hair would be adorable!

*3-D art plant parts:  construction paper base.  Use yarn pieces for the roots, straws for the stems, cupcake liners for the flower, and sunflower seeds for the flower.  You can either paint or use construction paper for the leaves.

*Sensory tubs - fill your sand/water table with dried beans.  They'll love it!  Counting Coconuts has a FABULOUS sensory tub with dirt, silk flowers, and seeds, and playdough activity as well!  I might make a few of the dirt ones to take on the playground, our custodians might appreciate them being designated as outside activities!

Fine motor - Playdough flowers - they'll have a blast using garlic press to make roots, rolling stems, cutting leaves, shaping flowers.  My students love to use cookie cutters for the flower.

*Practical life -  have out trays with silk flowers and vases, and let the children work on flower arranging.   Take the children out to pull the "weeds" in the school yard.

Paint with Dandelions - my daughter and I had a blast with this one!

Growing Kinders  has some great ideas for incorporating writing and math skills into a plant unit.

Enchanted Learning has some cool looking plant booklets if you are a subscriber.  I'm not, so I'm just going on the image they give us. :)

Cute ideas for "planters:
Lemon -

newspaper pots:

tp tubes

Egg carton - I think half of an egg carton would make an adorable hairy caterpillar!

Kid friendly watering "can" - Use a water bottle that is lightweight plastic with thin top.  Using hammer and nail, tap holes in the top. Only fill about 3/4 full.  Kids can squeeze (fine motor!) water onto plants.  Control the flow with the number of holes.  Any type of plastic "bottle" with a lid will work, I used a water bottle but was inspired by this:

Outdoor gardens "outside the box"

I LOVE this outdoor play garden.  This wouldn't be feasible at our school, (totally doing at home for the princesses), but if you could do it, it looks GREAT!

Love this wall garden if you can work it out, kids could take their milk jug home easily at the end

I like this idea of a cinderblock wall garden.  Lots of inspiration on this post:

Family Fun - Grow your name - This looks like so much fun!  (I'm not that ambitious, but some of you may be!)

Family Fun - recycled paper plantable greeting cards  Again, if you are really ambitious, you can turn scrap paper into cards (Mother's Day?) with wildflower seeds embedded.  Plant the card.  I LOVE this idea!

Happy Planting!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Christian Easter Egg Hunt Activities

Thanks to Big Princess for the photo!

I have been asked to lead the Egg Hunt at church.  So of course I turned to Pinterest for my inspiration.  Once again, since this activity is in the future, the pictures will be pins of the projects we are going to do.  However, I wanted to post this prior to the event so if anyone else out there is looking for ideas, maybe you can get some inspiration!

Logistics:  I will be doing these activities during "Children's Church", and the actual egg hunting will take place immediately following church service.  The children's church ages for us are 3-7, but we'll be lenient on the ages this week! Several reasons for doing this:
1. Hopefully, we can get more people in church that day!
2. The children will be immersed in the Easter story in a meaninful way.
3.  Since we rely on our teens to hide the eggs, and they are all going in 100 different directions, this will hopefully get more participants to help!
4.  Grandparents and church members can stay after church to watch.

Here's the plan:

The activities will be based around this booklet I found that walks children through the Easter Story from Palm Sunday to Resurrection.  I am going to print one and assemble one for each child.

The page shown on the pin above is the first story page. Each page is a different part of the Easter Story.  I will tell the story in age appropriate terms, and then we will do an activity station to bring meaning to the children. Listed below are the activities I have planned that correspond with each page.

1.  Palm Sunday - we are going to do leaf rubbings or just glue the leaves and glue fabric scraps representing the coats on the page of the booklet.  (supplies needed - crayons, leaves, tacky or fabric glue, fabric scraps)

2.  The Last Supper - I was totally inspired by Secrets of a Super Mommy's post on bringing the Last Supper to life.    I am going to have the children sit on the floor, and if I can't find a low table, we'll have some folding tables laying on the ground.  They will sit around the table, and I will give them grape juice, pass around loaves of wheat bread for them to break off a piece and eat, and possibly give them chunks of cantaloupe as well.  (supplies: table, bread, juice already poured in cups on the table, bowl of cantaloupe for them to pass)

3.  Jesus washes the disciples feet - While it would be more meaningful to actually wash their feet, the logistics would be a nightmare.  Tights, shoes to put back on.....  No time for that!  So I am going to have wash tubs of water, scented with lavendar essential oil possibly (need to check on allergies?) and babies and Barbies for them to wash their feet. (supplies - water, tubs, dolls, towels)

4. Praying in the garden - We will go out under a 100+ year old oak tree on the church grounds and say a prayer, give them some time to say prayers alone.  I'm sure they won't be able to focus, which will be another part of the lesson!

5.  Death of Jesus -  I am going to do my very best to put this on their terms.  Little Princess asked me one time if Jesus thought we didn't have enough blood and that's why He gave his blood for us. So putting this in very simplistic terms is essential.  At this point, we will begin making Resurrection Rolls inspired by Eat at Allie's.  I will have the oven already preheated to 350, and the crescent rolls laid on sheet pans.  We will use her terminology to explain what happened at Jesus' burial and the symbolism, make the rolls, and put in the oven and SET THE TIMER!) (supplies needed: sheet pans, parchment paper, 1 crescent roll and large marshmallow per child, bowls of melted butter and cinnamon sugar, paper towels)

6. Jesus is buried in the tomb - Since we started this with the rolls, while they are baking we will make salt dough caves.  I am going to use this air dry salt dough recipe to make the caves on styrofoam bowls.  I was inspired by No Longer Conforming's cave.  I am going to add some black food coloring to give it a more tomb like look, as she did.  But since there will be no time to bake them, I needed an air dry recipe.  (supplies needed: salt dough rolled out thin (hoping to get someone to do this while we are doing the other activities to it doesn't start air drying too quickly), styrofoam bowls with the cave cut out, and a circle cookie cutter slightly larger than opening to cut the stone "door"

7.  Jesus is alive! The salt dough tombs will illustrate this.  We will also get the rolls out of the oven, and break one open to see that "Jesus" is no longer there!  While they are cooling, I will tell the next story.

8. Jesus finds the disciples, and they eat fish on the beach  We will talk about how Jesus met with his friends to tell them how much he loved them, and remind them that he had told them all exactly how it would happen.  Jesus knows what is going to happen, and takes care of us!  We will eat some goldfish and the rolls, and share ways that Jesus looks after us.  (supplies: plates, napkins, goldfish)

By this time, I am thinking that church will be over, and the teenagers will have finished hiding the eggs.  We will go out for our egg hunt (which usually doesn't take very long at all).   The littlest kids get a big friend to help them.  Then, we come inside and count the eggs, pile them back up, and they hide them 1 more time.  While the teens are hiding them this time, the little ones will color their booklets.  Their parents will be with them then, and I will have the children tell their parents the activities and story as they are working in their books. I will be cleaning up! :))

After the final hunt, we will give out prizes! Everyone gets the same prize, because Jesus loves us all the same.  I was so excited to find this wonderful blog, Detail Oriented Diva.  She has the most brilliant ideas for turning everyday items into Bible lessons and scripture.  The post I linked to is what I am going to make this week for the prizes, I think.  Balls of playdough, but I am going to put into sandwich bags with the labels attached. 

Reality check:  I have a crazy busy week.  If I don't get around to making playdough, I am going to buy peeps and do this one I pinned by her.

Hope you were as inspired by these great bloggers as I was, and can use something I found.  He is Risen!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Celebrating Spring with UP!

So I have these ideas brewing.  I love how Pinterest inspires me, and I usually take a few ideas and either change them up or meld them into a huge project.  Since I am in planning phase, the only pictures I have will be from pins that inspired me.  But I figured I should go ahead and blog the plans in case anyone else is inspired and wants to start planning  I'll add update once we complete it!

I saw this great pin and immediately thought Easter Egg.  I thought if each one of us made one, they would look stunning in an urn with some fern fronds. 

Urn idea inspired here:

I have a smaller urn on either side of my door, so I am planning to work on this ASAP!  If you've ever worked with papier mache', you know it's definitely a process, so I need to get busy if they are going to get dried and decorated to actually display BEFORE EASTER! :)

When I clicked throught the Egg post on The Imagination Tree, she turned this into a hot air balloon.  LOVE THIS idea!  And being the Disney lover I am, I immediately thought UP!  I love this movie.  It came out right after my Daddy died, and no one really warned me about the story line.  I cried through the whole thing, and still won't let my mom watch it almost 3 years later.  This pin completely describes how I feel about this movie:

Source: via Taryn on Pinterest

I loved Twilight, don't get me wrong.  LOVED the books.  However, UP's love story is sooo real.  I love, love these images from the movie:

So, after Easter is over, we're going to do Spring Break UP! style.  Here's the plan, thus far:

1.  Turn the Easter eggs into hot air balloons and hang from ceiling.

2.  In true Carl and Ellie style, we're going to "scrapbook" our Spring Break.  I'm ordering this SMASH book  and giving it to the girls for Easter with the plans for the week.

3.  Be adventure scouts and earn badges.  These badges, and pictures and souvenirs of the activities will go in the SMASH book.  Badge and adventure ideas:
*Help the Elderly - we'll go to Mom's and wash her car and/or the windows
*Reading Badge - they'll earn one if they log reading time each day
*Responsibility Badge - earn this one if they complete their regular chores without much grumbling/reminding
*Spring Cleaning Badge - earn this by helping me with my list of cleaning projects I hope to accomplish
*Cooking Badge - See below for the recipes and ideas!
*Exercise Badge - again, we'll log minutes that they are involved in physical activity
*Art Badge - I'm sure we'll find plenty to do! (Thumbprint balloons, sidewalk chalk art, cloud art with shaving cream, campfire art activities are the first ideas that come to mind)
*Photography badge for Big Princess:  I'll ask her to recreate this, and then let her imagination take over for other ideas.  Or put her in charge of the photo memory capturing of the project.  I've found that she will participate in something she thinks she's too cool for as the photographer, and end up joining in completely!

* Geography Badge - Thinking we'll check out Google Earth for Disney World, research somewhere they would like to take an adventure to, etc.
* Meterology/Science Badge - Since they float away through a beautiful blue sky, this seems like a great time to incorporate some other fabulous pins I have found. Making cloud dough for a sensory experience, science experience on making our own clouds, cloud parfaits, hovercrafts, blowing up balloons, make a barometer, weather discovery basket.....

*Architecture badge - I am still pondering this one (actually the idea came to me as I am typing).  Thinking either boxes and such, or possibly a gingerbread house?  Ideas appreciated!

*Nature Explorer Badge - I was inspired by this Earth Day hunt.  We'll go on a similar one, adapted to our area.

*Camping Badge: thinking we will do a backyard campout, if not all night then at least for the day and evening.  We have a little fire pit we can use.  Also inspired by these pins (this could double for cooking badge, and possibly even art)

*Gardening Badge: I need to get lots done in my garden.  I have many ideas - girls a fairy garden, bean teepee, sunflower house, plus we've got to get our square foot garden going.  Will have to prioritze.

*Pet Care Badge - Earn this by making sure dogs and guinea pig have food and water, etc.

And the final badge will be a celebration badge:  They will help me plan, decorate, and set up for a little UP party for the four of us.   Inspired by this tablescape, I think we'll do suitcases and the sweet bunting.  I'm a sucker for buntings.

Would love to display the house they make, but be a little more environmentally friendly (and yummy!) and use this idea for the balloons:

Disney Family Fun has an UP page with some great printables - like an adventure book and badges.  I might incorporate some of these ideas or use some of these badges. 

Honestly, a lot of these ideas came to me as I wrote this post.  I cannot wait.  I'm tired already, and realize the ambitiousness of this idea.  I have to help mom, clean my house, and work on the gardens.  It may be that we leave some for Saturdays.  We might be adventure scouts the whole month of April (A is for April Adventures?) But I think it will be a PERFECT way to spend Spring Break doing fun activities, with a theme for them all.  Of course, we'll probably watch UP at the beginning and end of the week, one to get us ready, one to celebrate what we've done.

And one final note that makes my heart melt.  While I was browsing through pinterest, I saw where someone was doing an UP engagement party.  Isn't that the sweetest idea?  I might have to get 2 SMASH books, and give each one of the girls their own, and throw them UP engagement parties in about 100 years and display them.  What a great idea of love.  :)

This blog is an Amazon affiliate.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Happy..... Day

So I had pinned all these fabulous St. Patrick's ideas. 

Like this one from Meet the Dubiens

And this one from Lisa Storms

And these great ideas from Be Fickle:

The day before St. Pat's, Little Princess had a roller skating birthday party to attend, and when we got home from that, I picked up Big Princess from school dance and helped to load the kids in the cars.  Exhaustion set in.  On actual St. Patrick's Day, Big Princess had a REALLY early morning softball practice, Little Princess woke up earlier than anticipated. 

We had Lucky Charms for breakfast.  Oh well, at least the table was festive.

I was determined not to the let opportunity for fun on this gorgeous day slip away.So, after our St. Patrick's breakfast on the fly, and taking Big Princess to mid-day volleyball practice (!)  Little Princess and I headed to the yard and helped Daddy by pulling some dandelions and dandelion leaves.  We fed the leaves to the guinea pig, grabbed some paper from the art easel, paints, and an empty Girl Scout cookie plastic container, and went back out.

We decided to paint the paper rainbow colors with the dandelions.  We mixed colors rather than using the paints from the set.

And what better to stir with than a nearby twig?  While we were painting with the flowers, we were visited by some friendly honeybees. While watching them flit from weed  flower to flower, we had a great opportunity not to only learn about honey making, but bee "safety".  Little Princess could be heard saying over and over "Go away bee.  I eat your honey, not help you make it. But thanks for making it!"  

This day became a real process over product day.  The pictures of the product I took do NO justice to this great activity of color mixing, plant and animal uses, warm sunny days, and fun together.  Not even going to include them.

Well, when I went inside to get something to put the paint covered flowers in, Little Princess got creative.  I came back outside to this:

Her discovery?  "Mommy, when you mix all the colors it makes Hokie Maroon!"

So, we broke out another piece of paper and did some handprint painting.  While she was busy with this, I was determined to celebrate SOMETHING from St. Patrick's Day other than sugary cereal.  So I did a relief carving (used small cookie cutters to cut out the shape) in a potato, and we used up the rest of the paint stamping with the potato. 

I am adding this product, because it completely made my smile.  She turned some of the circles into Mike Wazoski's from Monster's Inc. (ever a Disney family) added more dandelion prints, painted with the stirring twigs.  This picture epitomizes childhood for me - colorful, fun, happy!  She ended the fun with some water play in the bathtub.... :)

Later in the day, showers moved in.  At one point, both Princesses were running around the backyard in the rain back and forth to our "building" in the backyard where Daddy was working on his lawnmower.  And at the end of the showers, we were given this.  It was still sprinkling, but Big Princess insisted on being photographed with the rainbow.  Why not?

Big Princess tried to catch it.  I'm no photographer.  Wish I had thought to have her hold a bucket to catch it in. 

So while it wasn't the St. Patrick's Day I had planned, it was a Happy Day!  Moral of the story - don't get in your own, or your children's way.