Classroom in the Kitchen: Making Edible Legs

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We’ve been learning all about the body; our most recent topic has been muscles and bones. It’s hard for kids to understand that there are things inside of them since they can’t see it.  So, with the help of some simple ingredients we explored the most basic elements of the legs-bones, muscles, fat, and blood- in our kitchen, and ended the lesson with a tasty snack!

Materials:
Premade pizza dough (skin)
Marinara (blood)
Mozzarella cheese stick (bone)
Shredded cheddar cheese (fat)

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Objective: (for 3-5 year olds)
Child will be able to identify skin, fat, bone, and blood.
Child will be able to briefly explain the function of:
Skin-helps us feel
Blood-sends oxygen and nutrients around our body
Bone-helps us stand up and makes blood
Muscles-helps us move

A note on objectives: these are variations on the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills and are likely very similar to objectives for prek in most states. The expectation is not that the child will master the objective after just one lesson, but rather that they are simply working towards mastery over time

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“Grow Your Own” Graphing Activity: Our Spooky Skeleton Graph

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A $1 grow your own skeleton, our October Body Unit, some chart paper, and a couple of makers made for a weeks worth of morning math and science learning. Oh, and a magical end of week skeleton surprise.

Graphing of one kind or another is a common fixture of the circle time routine in many preschool classrooms. Our three person classroom had been graphing the weather, but a wild little brother put an end to that by ripping down as many posters as he could before I could stop him. Instead of mourning our lost weather chart I took the opportunity to explore the other ways I could integrate math and scienc.

Materials:
A “grow your own” toy– You know, the things you put in water and they grow. We used a skeleton, but you could just as easily use an animal, person, or whatever. Wish We’d Bought One of These Bigger Ones
A large bowl of water in a place the kids can’t easily get to and mess with in between measurements
Chart paper
Markers

Objective:
Child will be able identify and name basic body parts (head, neck, ribs, arms, legs, skull, hips, legs, feet)
Child will be able to recognize and record change over time
Child will compare objects by size
Child will be able to make logical predictions

A note on objectives: these are variations on the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills and are likely very similar to objectives for prek in most states. The expectation is not that the child will master the objective after just one lesson, but rather that they are simply working towards mastery over time

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Monster Eggs: Seasonal Fine Motor Activity

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We’ve been learning all about our body this October. These silly little monster egg faces were a great way to bring the fun of Halloween together with our months theme. Plus, peeling the eggs was an accidentally awesome fine motor skill for the boys. We may have lost half of the eggs in the process, but they really worked those tiny finger muscles.

If you can make hard boiled eggs you can make these monster eggs.
Just hard boil some eggs, lightly tap eggs to create cracks all over, and then soak in dyed water for at least a couple of hours. Peel and voila, you’ve got monster/dragon/dinosaur eggs.

If you’ve got some Mr. Potato head pieces you can then make the little faces too!

Paper Towel Tube Ramp: When Accumulated Trash Turns Into Science

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Paper towel and toilet paper roll tubes have been accumulating at our house for awhile now despite much eye rolling from my husband when I would tell him I’d think of something to do with them. I finally turned my words into action with this ramp building activity.

Materials:
Tubes
Tape
Wall

Activity:
It’s obvious enough that the objective here is to get something round to roll down the tube ramp. The educational value comes in the planful experimentation to make it work. Have several sizes of objects to test which one will fit through the tubes best. We tried a ping pong ball, a football, and grapes. Encourage your little one to make suggestions about what they think will/won’t work.

Asking questions, experimenting, and problem solving are the essential components of this activity.

This is an exercise in engineering. It would be easy enough for me to just tape up a ramp and say “look things go down” and this is fine for little kids, but the 3+ crowd should help with the process.

We tested the angle and position of each tube placement by dropping our grape through and then adding another tube.

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Eventually little brother ripped the whole thing down, but the learning is in the fixing. So, no worries 🙂

Introducing: The SCARECROW in the Yard

imageYou may have heard of The Elf on the Shelf but I’m pretty sure you’ve never heard of The Scarecrow in the a Yard. Why haven’t you heard of it?  Probably because I made it up three days ago when I saw a 5ft scarecrow for sale at the craft store for $7.

Who is this mysterious straw stuffed friend?
He was inspired by the character No Noggin from the special Curious George: Halloween Boofest (also on Netflix)-a scarecrow who looses his pumpkin head. Maxwell loooooves this show. So, I knew he’d be totally bumped if we had a scarecrow of our very own. Our Fall Friend Scarecrows(very important to market him as a friendly-not scary – scarecrow) was waiting to meet Maxwell and Patrick right outside their playroom window one morning after I’d told Maxwell I thought I heard a scarecrow outside the night before.

The Scarecrow stays outside all day scaring away crows, but at night when all of the birds are asleep he can come down from his stick!

What can scarecrow do?
1) He watches kids play all day and has fun watching them clean up, share,  and learn.
2) If any toys are left inside at the end of the day he likes to sneak inside at night and take them!
3) When he sees children make happy choices he will get them surprises.
4) He loves Fall and likes to surprise people by decorating their house at night.

Why a Fall Friend Scarecrow?
1) It’s fun.
2) Apparently, the good opinion of a straw stuffed piece of felt holds greater sway over my sons’ actions than does mine. They really wanna impress this guy.
3) He helps me keep the playroom clean by stealing toys.
4) There are so few ways to meaningfully observe Fall in Texas since the two seasons here are Summer (April – September) and slightly less hot summer (October-March).
5) It’s super cheap.
6) It probably creeps out our neighbors to see a scarecrow facing into our house and periodically moving it’s position around our yard. This just makes me chuckle 🙂

I will continue to make updates on new ways Scarecrow interacts with us throughout the Fall. Goodness I love how kids make MY imagination come alive 🙂

Updates:
Scarecrow Decorates for Fall

Great Website with Lots of Songs About Fall and Scarecrows
http://www.preschooleducation.com/sfall.shtml
Before revealing scarecrow each day we sing one of our scarecrow songs.

The Floppy Scarecrow
Sung to: The Itsy Bitsy Spider

The Floppy, floppy scarecrow
Guards his fields all day.
He waves his floppy, floppy hands
To scare the crows away!
Repeat and replace Hands with arms, toes, head, legs, etc…

Scarecrow
Sung to: “Teddy Bear, Teddy bear turn around”

Scarecrow, Scarecrow, turn around.
Scarecrow, scarecrow, jump up and down
Scarecrow, scarecrow, arms up high
Scarecrow, Scarecrow, wink one eye
Scarecrow, scarecrow, bend your knee
Scarecrow, scarecrow, flap in the breeze
Scarecrow, scarecrow, climb into bed
Scarecrow, scarecrow, rest your head

I’m a little Scarecrow
Sung to: “I’m a little teapot”

I’m a little scarecrow stuffed with hay.
Here I stand in a field all day.
When I see the crows,
I like to shout
“Hey! You crows, you better get out!”

Hidden Message Writing Activity

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Paper, matching crayons, and watercolor paints-bam you’ve got a hidden message writing activity.

My good friend Kristin shared this idea and I had to try it out. Both boys loved it and it was simple/fun enough that my husband was able to step in and be the teacher for the activity.

Tips:
-Lighter colors work best like white paper and white crayons or yellow paper and yellow crayons and use darker contrasting paint colors.
-To really focus on fine motor development try to have your kiddos only paint on the areas with crayon. Helps them prepare to write the letters themselves.
-Draw pictures and shapes for littler kiddos

Our New Homeschool Routine: The Word of the Week!

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Reading, writing, letter recognition, phonetics, thematic crafts, and more- yes please. After the unexpected success of number of the day I decided to take the Painter’s Tape to another poster (the high-frequency word poster to be exact) and introduce THE WORD OF THE WEEK (it’s in all caps to emphasize the major hyping up I did to sell this idea to Maxwell).

What does “selling an idea” to a 3 year old look like? Well, the night before I told him his favorite toys were making him a surprise in homeschool – word of the week! Then I made conditions to see it, have to be dressed, follow directions and so on, to make it seem like a privileged for big boys only. Last I just acted really excited about wondering what the word was when we finally got down to it.

What to do with a word of the week:
First, look at the picture and have child attempt to guess by sounding out what letters might be in the word.
Then slowly peel tape, revealing one letter at a time, and check the prediction against actual word.
Cover up the word and have child put the words letters in the correct order. I actually choose to break word up into the sound parts instead of by letter to make it easier for sounding out.

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Have  child practice writing the word. In addition to exposing Maxwell to high frequency words, working on fine motor skills and writing is my second big motivation for this activity.

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Identify the word in a book. This is great for helping little ones realize that there are individual words that make up a sentence, a paragraph, a page, and a book.

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Notice that I’m introducing the words in all lower-case letters instead of all upper case. When reading kids will most often experience all lower-case words and therfore it makes their life easier if you teach them high frequency words in all lower-case

Then depending on the word I will do different thematic activities.
APPLE lends itself to any number of fun Fall crafts and activities.

I’ll be adding our new APPLE related activities throughout the week.