Monday, July 6, 2015

Weekly Learning Theme: 4th of July

Of course with the 4th of July on the horizon I started thinking of all the ways I could use fireworks and red, white, and blue as learning tools. I was so excited to do a 4th of July themed couple of weeks to pack in lots of festive fun! You may notice in a lot of the pictures Carter is wearing the same navy blue and orange striped shirt. He actually wore that twice during this theme, once with navy blue shorts and once with orange shorts. I promise I did laundry in between. Now your challenge is to find the different shorts in pictures!

Listed below are the objectives I am focusing on for the themed weeks.  I have updated our objectives a second time because I felt like we were ready to focus on something new.  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. Continue to improve fine motor skills and drawing (specifically I'm looking for him to be able to copy a circle and a square as well as draw a person with 2-4 body parts).
  2. Understand same and different.
  3. Accurately tell stories as well as retell the story from a book. 
  4. Use age appropriate scissors. 
  5. Develop a better understanding of time (for example, be able to describe when things happen using morning, afternoon, night)
  6. Group objects based on a category (sort by defining feature).
  7. Count and understand what the numbers mean.  
  • Before we started any of our activities I told Carter a special holiday called the 4th of July was coming up. I told him why we celebrate the holiday and then we read some books about it.

  • We kicked off our weeks with a sensory bin. I used rice as the base and for the white. Then I used red and blue foam I already had to make stars by tracing and cutting out stars using cookie cutters. I added in some red, silver, and blue beads along with the cookie cutters and some measuring cups and we were set. The first thing Carter did was pull out the beads and hang them on his tool bench so he had better access to the rice. I showed him how to use the cookie cutters to make the rice into a star-shaped pile and he loved that!

  • To prepare Carter for storytelling I modeled making up a story for him using the foam stars. I took out a large blue star telling him it was the daddy star, a large red star for the mommy star, a medium blue star for brother, and a small red for sister. I would tell him stories about the stars while acting them out by moving the stars around. He loved it and was quick to catch on that I was telling stories about our family. He kept asking me to tell more stories, even saying "Tell nother Carter story." After we'd done it a few times with me telling the whole story I started stopping at parts of my story for Carter to fill in some details. For example, in one of our stories I had the star family go to the park. I'd have Carter fill in details about what the brother star played on at the park. My goal is for him to eventually start making up and telling stories on his own. The modeling and guided practice will lead toward him independently telling stories.

  • For more practice with storytelling I showed Carter pictures from his past two July 4th celebrations. I used the pictures to tell him stories about what we did and what he thought of fireworks. I also showed him a couple of videos to show what it was like. It was funny because he enjoyed fireworks a lot more last year than he did this year! He got a kick out of the fact that Elise was wearing the same onesie and hat this year that he wore for his first 4th of July. 

  • I happened to have large, medium, and small star cookie cutters so I used all three sizes to make the foam stars for our sensory bin. Carter sorted then by size but wouldn't let me take a picture of him so I took a picture of the sorted stars. When we were finished sorting them we counted each pile and then discussed which pile had the most stars. It was pretty obvious just by looking that there were the most small stars, but Carter doesn't totally understand that concept yet. When I asked him which pile had the most he'd tell me how many were in each pile.
  • I found some adorable American flag themed alphabet letters for free online here. I printed them and laid them out in alphabetical order. Then I pointed at the letters as Carter sang the alphabet song. After I pointed while he sang he started pointing at them as he sang. It was adorable!
    Notice his flags he stuck in the ground next to him!
  • I also found adorable American symbols matching cards for free here. I printed them and showed them to Carter one at a time telling him what they were and what their significance was. Then I put out 4 cards at a time, handing Carter a card and having him match it to the card with the same picture. Later on it will be fun to play memory with the cards but I didn't feel he was ready for that yet.
  • The same website had adorable action cards with patriotic-themed actions such as blast off like a rocket, sparkle like a star, and march like a soldier. I printed them out as well and wanted to play a game where we'd grab a card off the stack and do the action. Carter wasn't interested in an organized game so I just showed him each card and we did the action together. It was a lot of fun. Not surprisingly, his favorite action was sparkle like a star! 

  • My mom had some small American flags so I took them in the yard and put them in different fairly obvious hiding spots. Carter came out for a flag search. As he found one we would count to see how many more  he needed to find. Once he found them all he hid them for Opa to find. He was hilarious because Opa would say things like, "Where could it be?" or "Where is it?" Carter would then point out one of the flags for him. He doesn't really understand surprises yet that's for sure!
    Finding a flag.
    Ready to hide the flags for his Opa.
  • Using poker chips Ty had, Carter sorted into piles of red, white, and blue. We counted to see how many chips we had in each color, then I got out a mixing bowl and set it fairly close to us. We took turns giving each other directions on how many chips and of what color to toss into the bowl. As we tossed we would count to make sure we threw the appropriate number. I kept trying to get Carter to throw one at a time but he preferred to count out the number and then toss them into the bowl all together. It was a lot of fun until Carter grabbed handfuls of chips in rapid fire and threw them all over the kitchen. Then it was time to put them away. We counted them as we put them away to make sure we found them all.
    Sorting the chips.
    Throwing chips into the bowl.
  • We enjoyed playing and learning with fireworks. I drew a circle, square, rectangle, rhombus, and triangle on the ground each in a different color. I would tell Carter a shape and he'd throw a snapper in the shape telling me what color the shape was. Then he'd tell me a shape to throw a snapper in and I'd do the same. It was so much fun! The game didn't last long because the snapper noise was a little loud for him. He could handle the sound until our neighbors would start shooting off fireworks and then the sounds combined got him too upset so we switched to other fireworks.
  • Using the same shapes on the sidewalk Carter sorted smoke bombs by color into the shapes. He'd tell me what color the smoke bomb was and then which shape it needed to go into due to the color. When we were done we counted how many smoke bombs were in each shape and discussed which color had the most smoke bombs. He was so funny because he told me which shapes had smoke bombs in them when I asked him which one had the most. So then we talked about how to tell which one had the most and counted them. We had also sorted the smoke bombs before lighting any of them.
    Sorting smoke bombs based on color.
    Discussing which shape had the most smoke bombs.
    Looking at the sorted smoke bombs before lighting them.
  • Before lighting the snakes Ty put them out in a row and we counted to see how many there were. Then I told Carter they needed a house and asked him to pick a color for their house. I showed him how I'd draw a square for the house. Then I'd ask him what color for the roof and show him how I'd draw a triangle for the roof. Once we had quite a few houses I drew a road between the houses and we talked about how we'd made a neighborhood.
    Poor guy was upset by all the fireworks going off around us.
  • I showed Carter the American flag and we talked about what we noticed about it, the colors and shapes. Then I showed him flags of other countries. When we'd looked at a few different ones I told him he was going to create his own flag. I pulled out a large piece of paper and he told me he wanted his flag to be purple and blue. He would tell me shapes he wanted me to draw and he added quite a few circles as well as other shapes.

  • For some practice with time of day we talked about when we shoot off fireworks. I told Carter some fireworks are meant for day and others are meant for night. Smoke bombs are good for day because they are easy to see during the daytime when it's light outside. Fireworks that light up are good at night because it's dark and you can see them better. It gave us a chance to talk about how it's light during the day and dark at night.
  • Using Popsicle sticks we created an American flag puzzle. I colored a blue square in the upper left corner of the sticks while they were pushed together. The I split up the sticks between me and Carter so we each got to color a couple red. I gave Carter some small stickers to put in the blue square and voilĂ , we had a flag puzzle!
  • I taped straws together like I'd seen here to make fireworks out of red and blue paint. It turned out really cool!
  • Our next craft was also an exploration. Carter really wanted to dump out some paint after watching me do it for our firework craft. I let him pour out a glob of red paint and a glob of blue paint next to it. Then we folded the paper different ways and talked about what happened and how the shape of paint had changed. Carter cracked me up because after a couple folds he'd open the paper back up while exclaiming, "What happened?" He's such a little parrot these days!
Special Snack:
  • I used cookie cutters to cut Carter's food into star shapes. He loved it and after I'd done it with cantaloupe he kept asking for "star cama-ofe". It was so cute!
Make Believe:
  • When we were finished decorating our flag we hung it from Carter's fort. Then we pretended we were our own country. We didn't do a whole lot other than name and talk about our country. When he's older we could definitely do more with that activity.
  • We listened to patriotic songs on YouTube. On our list were God Bless America, My Country Tis of Thee, The Star Spangled Banner, and You're a Grand Ole Flag. I also sang Yankee Doodle to Carter.
Field Trip/Interactive Experience:
  • Carter got to pick out fireworks at the firework stand. He was super excited about his Hummer and ladybugs but ended up not liking either of them because they made noise.
  • A local park always has activities for the holiday. We took Carter to walk around and look at the arts and crafts stands. He enjoyed walking on the train tracks, pretending we were a train. Then we stopped off at Kiddieland because Carter wanted to ride the airplanes. It was getting ready to close so we only had time for him to ride that one ride.
  • We ran the 4th of July 5k. Carter ran part of it, walked part of it, and rode in the stroller for most of it.
  • 123 USA by Puck
  • America the Beautiful by Katharine Lee Bates
  • Celebrate the 50 States by Loreen Leedy
  • Wow! America! by Robert Neubecker
  • ABC USA by Martin Jerrie
  • How to Make a Cherry Pie and See the USA by Marjorie Priceman 
  • A Is For America by Devin Scillian
  • Apple Pie 4th of July by Janet S. Wong
  • Hats Off for the 4th of July by Harriet Ziefert
  • By the Dawn's Early Light by Steven Kroll
  • Fourth of July Mice by Bethany Roberts
  • Hurray for the Fourth of July by Wendy Watson 
  • I Am America by Charles R. Smith Jr.
  • This Land Is Your Land by Woody Guthrie
  • Fireworks, Picnics, and Flags by James Giblin
  • Snickerdoodle's Star-Spangled Fourth of July by Clare ham Grosgebauer
  • Independence Day by Trudi Strain Trueit
  • Fourth of July Sparkly Sky by Joan Holub
  • Happy 4th of July, Jenny Sweeney! by Leslie Kimmelman
  • Sweet Land of Liberty by Callista Gingrich
  • Red, White, and Blue and Katie Woo by Fran Manushkin
  • Stars! Stars! Stars! by Nancy Elizabeth Wallace
  • F is for Flag by Wendy Cheyette Lewison
  • Wemberly's Ice-Cream Star by Kevin Henkes

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