Monday, April 27, 2015

Weekly Learning Theme: Earth

Since Earth Day was on Wednesday I wanted to spend a week focusing on the Earth and Earth Day activities.  Our focus wasn't on the solar system and learning about the planet from that perspective.  Our focus was on how we can take care of the Earth.  I think it's important for children of all ages to understand their actions have an impact on the world around them.  Carter needs to know even at his age there are things he can do to make our world a better place.  He already points at litter on the ground and tells me, "Oh no, mommy, somebody else trash!"  He'll even pick trash up off the ground and walk it to the trash can.  That's a great start!

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).  
  4. String beads or other objects.
  5. Count to 3 and understand what the numbers mean.  
  • Throughout the entire week we spent a lot of time outside enjoying nature and the world around us.  Carter loves being outside and is always discovering something I didn't notice.  One day he hid in an overgrowth of our neighbor's bush.  He looked so hilarious sitting back behind the leaves peeking out at me!  One day he found a mushroom which he mistakenly identified as a marshmallow.  When we were watering the plants we found a caterpillar and Carter was so excited to show it to Ty.  Then in the backyard Harper found a beetle and started playing with it.  Carter loved looking at the beetle and then watching Harper with it.
Hiding in the bushes.
Looking at the caterpillar.
Harper and Carter looking at the beetle.

  • One of the activities I had planned was to plant seeds.  Since we had already planted seeds during our spring week we observed our sprouts and what was happening with them during this week.  Carter enjoyed using a magnifying glass to get a closer look.

  • I had thought it would be neat to start a compost pile so Carter could understand a little bit better what happens with our trash.  I eventually decided to start smaller by putting an orange peel outside and observing what happened to it over time.  We put it outside before the week so we could see more progress.  I also talked with Carter about how it takes things longer to decompose in a landfill.
  • I put a table cloth on the floor in the kitchen.  Then I dumped our recycling bin onto the table cloth.  I showed Carter a piece of recycling that was made of paper.  We felt it and pressed on it to see what it sounded like.  Then we did the same thing with something made of plastic and something made of aluminum.  I handed him a piece of recycling one at a time and he put it in the appropriate pile to sort it.  He needed help in the beginning.  I'd remind him to squeeze it to see what it sounded like.  Toward the end he was able to sort all on his own.
    Putting a paper item into the paper pile.
    Adding a plastic item into the plastic pile.
  • After we sorted the recycling I put together a sensory bin using all recycled items.  A spinach container was the bin and I put shredded paper in as the base.  Then I threw in a few bottle caps, lids to tin cans (we have the type of can opener that doesn't leave behind sharp edges), and a couple of yogurt containers.

  • Carter helped carry our recycling out to the big recycling container outside.  We put some recycling in an empty diaper box and he walked with Ty and dumped it in.
  • I showed Carter some pictures of the Earth as well as a squishy globe ball we have.  I told him it was called the Earth and it was the planet we live on.  Then I pulled up the Google Earth app I had added to my phone and showed him the Earth on that.  We played around with the app, finding our house as well as his Oma and Opa's house.  Then I let him just mess around scrolling around on the globe.
    Checking out the squishy ball globe.
    Playing on Google Earth.
  • We collected leaves.  Then I hole punched them and Carter strung them onto a pipe cleaner.  I didn't have a plan for what he'd do with them after he strung them, I just wanted him to get the practice stringing.  He cracked me up when he walked around with the pipe cleaner, waving it around like a wand.  He even took it over to show Elise.
  • During the week as we explored nature I let Carter choose items to bring home.  I took one of our bins we use for a sensory bin and added dirt from our backyard.  Then I put the items we collected on top of the dirt.  Carter loved playing with the sensory bin.  The minute he saw it he ran over and said, "Oooohhh!"  
  • Carter and Ty decorated a milk jug.  Then Ty punched holes in the cap so we could create a watering can.  That evening I showed Carter how to put the milk jug under the faucet in the bathtub as we let the water warm up so we could use the water on our plants rather than just letting it go down the drain and wasting it.
  • I have a huge stack of scrap paper that we use for art projects and drawing.  I showed Carter how one side of the paper had writing and told him we want to use both sides of paper to reduce the amount of paper we use.
  • After talking about how it is best to reuse things, Carter picked out a tote to decorate.  He used fabric markers to decorate it and we've already used it as a suitcase for him on an overnight trip.  He is so proud of it and loves showing it off!
  • We used a couple of tin cans to create marker containers for Carter's craft table.  I helped Carter put mod podge on a tin can and then rip tissue paper we found in the recycling bin.  He then placed the tissue paper where he wanted it on the can.  We put mod podge over the tissue paper and when it was dry Carter added some stickers.
Special Snack:
  • After looking at pictures of the Earth and playing on Google Earth we made Earth cookies.  As we iced the cookies with blue icing we talked about how it represented water.  We used green frosting and green sprinkles to add the land and talked about how it represented land.  Carter worked really hard on his first cookie so I ended up decorating most of the cookies.  Carter was so excited to eat his cookie for snack.

Make Believe:
  • We pretended to be a flower.  We started on the floor, grew by standing up, and then put our arms out to bloom.
  • We read the book "Earth Dance" and acted out what it said to do, pretending we were the Earth.
  • I found this awesome website with songs and videos for Earth Day.  Carter loved listening and dancing to all of them!
  • I have the Jack Johnson Curious George soundtrack so we listened to "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle" and "With My Own Two Hands".  Carter really liked dancing to "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle".

Field Trip/Interactive Experience:
  • We went on a walk searching for different items found in nature.  We searched for acorns, other nuts, sticks, flowers, leaves, and animals.  If Carter were older we could have done a scavenger hunt sheet and made tally marks to show how many of each item he found.  For now I kept it simple and explorative.  Carter loved pointing out different things he'd found.  He was most excited about a dried up worm he found on the sidewalk!

  • The Listening Walk by Paul Showers
  • Giving Thanks by Jonathan London
  • The Lorax by Dr. Seuss
  • The Great Paper Caper by Oliver Jeffers
  • Charlie and Lola, We are Extremely Very Good Recyclers by Lauren Child
  • The Earth Book by Todd Parr 
  • Miss Fox's Class Goes Green by Eileen Spinelli
  • Riki's Birdhouse by Monica Wellington
  • The Curious Garden by Peter Brown
  • A Place for Butterflies by Melissa Stewart
  • Biscuit's Earth Day Celebration by Alyssa Satin Capucilli
  • It's Earth Day by Mercer Mayer 
  • Curious George Plants a Tree by H.A. Rey
  • Don't Throw That Away! by Lara Bergen
  • Are Trees Alive? by Debbie S. Miller
  • All the Way to the Ocean by Joel Harper
  • 10 Things I Can Do to Help My World by Melanie Walsh
  • Tracking Trash by Loree Griffin Burns
  • Earth Dance by Joanne Ryder
  • A Seed Is Sleepy by Diana Hutts
  • More by I.C. Springman
  • The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
  • Outside Your Window by Nicola Davies
  • The Apple Pie Tree by Zoe Hall
  • Lost in the Woods by Carl R. Sands II and Jean Stoick
  • The Tiny Seeds by Eric Carle

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