Monday, February 23, 2015

Weekly Learning Theme: Presidents

Monday was President's Day so I decided on presidents as our weekly learning theme.  Since George Washington and Abraham Lincoln are the presidents that generally get the most attention I decided to focus on them.  We also did a few activities that simply had to do with the American flag.

Listed below are the objectives I am focusing on for the themed weeks.  I have updated our objectives from the original ones we focused on because Carter mastered those skills.  I plan to continue to implement activities to practice and reinforce our previous objectives while putting more emphasis on our new objectives.  Some of them won't necessarily be targeted with specific activities during our weeks, but I wanted to list them to help me remember to practice them continually.  The highlighted objectives are ones Carter received exposure to during our theme this week:
  1. Take turns in a simple game.
  2. Understand the meaning of mine, his, hers.
  3. Group objects based on a category (sort by defining feature).  Since Carter was doing so well sorting by shape and color I already started having him sort by other features.
  4. String beads or other objects.
  5. Count to 3 and understand what the numbers mean.  Carter can count to 3, but we're still working on understanding what each number means.
  • I found a great step-by-step guide for how to make a pretend stovepipe hat like Abraham Lincoln's here.  I changed the plans a little bit because I knew Carter wouldn't wear it very much so I figured there wasn't much point in putting too much effort into it.  I had Carter color a paper plate black and cut out the inside.  Then I stapled 2 pieces of black construction paper together and taped them to the plate.
    My cute little Abe Lincoln wearing his stovepipe hat.
  • I found free printable timelines of Abraham Lincoln and George Washington's lives here.  Instead of putting the timelines together on a paint stick like she did, I hole punched them so Carter could practice stringing them onto yarn as we put them in order.  I read each fact to Carter and then handed him the circle with the fact on it to string onto the string.
Stringing the timeline circles onto a shoe lace.
  • Originally I planned to sort only pennies and quarters since they have George Washington and Abraham Lincoln on them.  But when I went through our coins I realized we only had one quarter.  I figured since all the coins have presidents on them we could use all of them so I put all of our pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters in a bowl.  To start off I just let Carter play with them before we explored with them and sorted them.  I gave him measuring cups and spoons to play with the coins just like it was a sensory bin.  I didn't realize how much he would enjoy it.  He had so much fun playing with the coins, I had a hard time getting him to switch over to using them as a tool rather than a toy.  Typically if I let him play with our tools for a while he is quick to make the transition.  Then I showed him how to put the coins in the back of his dump truck and dump them into the bowl.
    Playing with the coins.
Dumping the coins back into the bowl.
  • After playing with coins for a while we looked closely at the coins.  I talked to Carter about how the people's heads on the coins were all past presidents.  Then I showed him the side of my face and told him when just the side of someone's face is shown, it's call a profile.  I pulled out a dollar bill and a 5 dollar bill and compared the pictures on them to the pictures on the penny and quarter.
  • Our next activity was to sort the coins based on color putting the pennies in a brown pile and the rest of the coins in a silver pile.  Once we had them sorted into piles based on colors we sorted the silver coins based on size.  We put the dimes into the small-sized pile, the nickels in the medium-sized pile, and the quarters into the large-sized pile.  When Carter wasn't sure which pile a coin went into we put the coin on top of one of the coins in the pile and looked to see if it was the same size or if one of the coins was larger.
    Sorting the silver coins based on size.
  • I had a George Washington puzzle and an Abraham Lincoln puzzle I made and used in my classroom.  The base of each was the president's profile and each piece had a fact about the president written on it.  I read Carter each fact and handed the piece to him to place on the base.  I was impressed by how much he enjoyed the puzzles!
    Working on the George Washington puzzle.
    Working on the Abraham Lincoln puzzle.
  • After looking at the back of the penny I showed Carter pictures of us visiting the Lincoln Memorial this past summer. 
  • I made a copy of a coloring page I had used in the classroom.  Carter and I colored it together and then I cut it out and we glued it to a brown paper bag.  Then I added glue to George Washington's wig and Carter stuck cotton balls to the wig.  We used the bag as a puppet.  Carter enjoyed watching me use the puppet, but we wasn't interested in playing with it himself.
    Coloring George Washington for his puppet.
  • Going along with the fact that Abraham Lincoln lived in a log cabin (why is that such a big deal?) we played with Lincoln Logs.  First we sorted the Lincoln Logs based on length.  I called the piles small, medium, and large.  Carter is getting better at looking at something and deciding which sized pile it goes in without having to compare it to an item in each of the piles.  When we were finished sorting we counted to see how many we had in each pile and then we made a log cabin.  It was the first time Carter was actually interested in helping to build something.  Normally he just wants me to build a house and then he plays with it.
    Putting a short Lincoln Log in the small pile.
    Building a house out of Lincoln Logs.
  • We made a finger painted American flag.  Carter finger painted one piece of paper red and one piece of paper blue.  When they were dry I cut the red paper into 8 small strips and then trimmed a little off the side.  Then I cut the blue paper into a small square.  Carter and I glued the strips of red onto a piece of paper with room between them for the white stripes.  Then we glued the blue square in the top left corner.  We counted the stripes to make sure there were 13 stripes.  I pulled out star stickers and we counted them as Carter added them on top of the blue square.  We actually crammed 50 star stickers on the flag!  It was so cute because as we were counting the stars and I said 8 on the next star Carter yelled, "9!"  I was shocked he knew what number came next!
    Finger painting the paper red.
    Adding star stickers to the American flag.
    I tried to get Carter to pose with his American flag, this is what I ended up with.
  • I showed Carter how to make a rubbing using a penny and a quarter.  He tried to make a rubbing but ended up just coloring around the outside of the coin.
    Carter trying to make a rubbing of the penny and the quarter.
Special Snack:
  • For lunch one day I used a star cookie cutter to make Carter's grilled cheese sandwich into the shape of a star.
Make Believe:
  • We turned the box from our dishwasher into a log cabin like Abraham Lincoln.  In one of our books about Abraham Lincoln it said he liked to sit by the fire in his log cabin and read.  So I drew a fire and taped it to the wall.  Then Carter and I sat in the log cabin and read together.  It was a tight fit.  I took up the entire house by myself and Carter sat in my lap.  He invited Harper in and I had to tell him there wasn't enough room.  Eventually my leg fell asleep so after reading all the board books from Elise's book shelf we moved on to something else.
  • I found a cute song about George Washington's tricorn hat here.  It goes like this:
My hat it has 3 corners (form a triangle above head).
Three corners has my hat.
If it did not have 3 corners (show 3 fingers).
It would not be my hat (shake head).
  • We also sang George Washington and an Abraham Lincoln songs that I had from school.
Field Trip/Interactive Experience:
  • We went on a walk and played "I Spy" searching for red, white, and blue during our walk.
My attempt at a picture of our books...
  • President's Day by Anne Rockwell
  • A Picture Book of Abraham Lincoln by David A. Adler 
  • Duck for President by Doreen Cronin
  • Celebrating President's Day by  Kimberly Jordano
  • What Presidents Are Made Of by Hanoch Piven
  • Looking at Lincoln by Maira Kalman- Carter loved this one and wanted to read it over and over.  It got me teared up each time I read it.
  • Madam President by Lane Smith
  • George Washington's Birthday by Margaret McNamara- Carter also loved this one and we read it so many times!  I think it was because he loves birthdays.
  • Barack Obama by Grace Hansen
  • Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters by Barack Obama- Very cool book!
  • I Pledge Allegiance: The Pledge of Allegiance by Bill Martin- A bit over Carter's head, but I love this book.  It is such a great way to give the Pledge of Allegiance meaning for kids.
  • Max for President by Jarrett Krosoczka
  • Just Like Abraham Lincoln by Bernard Waber- I love this book and was really bummed they didn't have it at the library because my copy is packed away somewhere in the attic.


  1. When Carter was wearing the Shave the Whales shirt, in each picture he had a little less on. In the picture of him with his flag, it almost looks like he and Carter were saying the pledge but facing the wrong way. :) She really keeps her eyes on him.

    1. I think he actually started with the least amount of clothing on and as the day progressed I talked him into putting something new on, the pictures were just out of order. When I change his diaper before nap he declares, "No pants!" and wants to nap without them. Then after he wakes up it takes a while to get him to put them back on. He's a character.