Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Weekly Learning Theme: Pumpkins

Last year we had so much fun with our pumpkin learning theme, read it here. I was so excited to do it again. It is so much fun to take the same theme but stretch it and change it for Carter's new objectives and strengthened abilities. I'm also enjoying finding ways to include Elise in our activities and learning. We had a pumpkin patch playdate set up with some ladies I used to work with who are now stay-at-home or part time working moms, so I decided to do the learning theme at a time that would include our pumpkin patch trip as the field trip. But the night before our trip I came down with a nasty stomach bug so we ended up going the next week in the evening so Ty could go with us.

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.  
  • I put together a pumpkin sensory bin for Carter. I used beans as the base and then threw in some fun pumpkin stuff. I put in pumpkin cookie cutters, some pumpkin cut outs I had, pumpkin decorations that opened, and a pumpkin ice cube tray. Carter had so much fun with the bin. His favorite was to fill the pumpkins with seeds and then dump them out. One day Elise woke up from her afternoon nap before Carter so I poured the bin into the lid and let her play with it. She had so much fun and was so into touching and grabbing everything she didn't try to put any of it in her mouth!
  • Carter found a measuring tape in our bathroom drawer and was desperate to play with it. I pulled out some of the different pumpkins we had, both real and fake. I had him order them based on size and then we measured them. I showed him how to hold the end of the measuring tape with the zero on it and then wrap the measuring tape around the pumpkin. He did pretty well considering how hard it is to do!
  • My parents sent Carter some window clings that were pumpkins with different mouths, eyes, and decorations so he could move the clings to decorate the pumpkins. He really enjoyed it and I'd randomly find him over at the window decorating his pumpkins.
  • I pulled out all the pumpkins we have and we counted them. Then we sorted them. First we sorted them based on color, they all were orange. Then we sorted based on whether they opened or not. Then we sorted the pumpkins into pumpkins with faces and pumpkins without faces. Lastly we sorted them into real pumpkins and pretend pumpkins. I was pleasantly surprised with how Carter did. I thought he would get confused, but he very easily sorted them into real and pretend.

  • One of Carter's favorite things to do right now is play with Play Doh. While we played Play Doh we rolled balls and put little stems on them to make pumpkins. We also used pumpkin shaped cookie cutters to make pumpkins and put Play Doh in our pumpkin ice cube tray to make pumpkins.
  • Ty loves to carve pumpkins so I bought him one to carve. Carter and I prepared it for him by cutting open the top and pulling out the "guts" and seeds. Little mister messy still wasn't a huge fan of the slimy guts but tried to eat them this year. He'd lick them and see if I was watching him. If I wasn't, he'd sneak them in his mouth and tell me they were yummy. We took Elise out with us and had her sit in the Bumbo. I had a container that I turned upside down and we set the guts on it for her to play with. She was so funny because she'd grab a chunk, make a face like she was grossed out, drop it, and then repeat the whole process with another chunk. She did eventually smile toward the end and got a little wild with it, spilling it down her leg.
  • Before emptying the pumpkin for Ty I told Carter we were going to write a book titled "How to Carve a Pumpkin". As we went through each step I asked him what we had done and I wrote down what he said on a page of our book. Then when Ty was home and ready to carve I had him watch Ty and we added those steps to our book. I was really impressed with Carter's illustrations. He actually drew pretty good circles for his pumpkins and I could tell what he'd drawn even without his explanations.
  • Part of the fun was watching Ty carve the pumpkin. Ty and I had talked about what he should carve and decided on Elmo. When Ty finished drawing what he was going to carve on the pumpkin Carter excitedly yelled "Elmo!" and went running into his room to fetch his Elmo doll. He spent the whole time Ty was carving talking to Elmo, telling him about how Ty was carving him, where his eyes were and where his nose was. He was desperate to carve as well so I found him an empty oatmeal container I'd been saving for a possible craft and let him "carve" the lid. He wanted Big Al and Buddy and pretended he was carving them onto his lid.
  • We put the pumpkin seeds into the pumpkin ice cube tray. As we put the seeds in the tray we counted them out. I realized the pumpkin ice cube tray is a ten frame with five pumpkins on either side. I started coming up with fun ideas for how to use that for learning when Carter is a little bit older, filling some slots and not others and figuring out the 2 numbers and discussing sums of ten.
    Carter had a hard time only dropping one seed at a time so we'd pull out the extras.
    Counting our seeds.
  • I had some pumpkin cutouts I made for my classroom. They were orange and green die cuts and then I laminated them. We used them for quite a few activities. First I got them out and made simple AB color patterns. I pointed to each pumpkin, told Carter what color it was and that it was part of the pattern. Then I'd have him tell me what color went next in the pattern. He'd tell me and I'd have him add the pumpkin to the line. Then I set the pumpkins out with all one color and one of a different color. I asked Carter which pumpkin was different. After he answered we talked about how all the other pumpkins were the same because they were the same color, but that one pumpkin was different because it was a different color. Next we used them to act out the Five Little Pumpkins rhyme. I put the book by us so Carter would remember it and then I read it, moving the pumpkins and pretending they were talking. After I did it, Carter wanted to do it himself and made up other words for the rhyme.
    Practicing with simple AB patterns.
    Picking out the pumpkin that was different.
    Acting out "Five Little Pumpkins".
  • We used the pumpkin seeds again for a pumpkin toss game. Ty's mom gave me some really thick poster board. I drew a pumpkin on it and cut out a face. Then Carter helped me color it. We set it up and tried to throw pumpkin seeds through the mouth, nose, or eyes. It was actually much harder than I expected! I also planned to use it to play "Pin the stem on the pumpkin" and cut out a green stem. I put a blind fold on and tried pinning the stem on. I talked to Carter about how I could feel with my hands and find the cut out eyes, mouth, and nose to help orient me so I could place the stem close to where it went. He thought it was really cool and laughed as I did it. When it was his turn he told me he was too scared and didn't want to put the blind fold on, so we scrapped the game.
  • Using the pumpkin Ty's mom had painted for Carter we played hide and seek. I would hide the pumpkin for him and give him clues about where it was and then he would do the same for me. Although his clues typically told me where the pumpkin was!
  • For a fun sensory activity for Elise and to talk a little bit about mixing colors we did an activity with shaving foam. I put a bunch of shaving foam on a laminated poster Leina gave us. Then I gave Carter red food coloring and yellow food coloring. I told him we were going to mix them together and asked him what color he thought they would make. He guessed green, hey it's a secondary color so not a bad guess! Then I had him add a few drops of each color to the foam. When he mixed the foam up he was quite excited to see it made orange. Then we just had fun playing with the shaving foam.

  • Using the pumpkin ice cube tray I had Carter fill it with water. I told him when we put it in the freezer the water would freeze and turn into ice. He helped me put it in the freezer and then I had him guess when he thought it was frozen. We would go check on it and it was still water. Finally, after his nap the water was frozen. He was so excited! I put the ice cubes in a bowl and let him play with them. He left to go to the bathroom and when he came back they were all the way melted. He was so disappointed so we talked about how when ice warms up it turns back into water. I asked him how we could make the water back into ice and then we put it in the freezer.
  • One of my favorite activities during the week was one I did with Elise. I ripped orange tissue paper and stuffed it inside plastic applesauce and fruit cups we have from Papa and Gigi. I built towers and let Elise knock them over. She also loved moving the cups around and grabbing for them on her play tray. When she knocked one over and realized she could pull the tissue paper out she had a blast playing with the tissue paper and crinkling it to hear the noise it made. It was so awesome!
  • My other favorite activity was a game I played with Carter that we called "What's in the pumpkin?" I used one of the pumpkins we have that you can lift the lid off of. I hid different objects inside the pumpkin and we sang a song to the tune of Frere Jacques listed below. I would give Carter clues about what was in the pumpkin and he would guess what it could be. I was really impressed with how well he did. I started with animals because I knew once I told him what noise they made he'd quickly get it. Once he'd had success I did some shapes. On triangle I told him it was the shape of a piece of pizza after a few other clues and was impressed that he got it! We did some other small things I found laying around like a car, an airplane, and a letter. The only one he didn't get was letter. He absolutely loved opening the pumpkin to discover what was inside.
What's in the pumpkin, what's in the pumpkin?
What could it be, what could it be?
What's in the pumpkin, what's in the pumpkin?
I don't know, let's find out! 

  • I used one of the die cut pumpkins we had to make a lacing game for Carter. I hole punched around the outside of the pumpkin's shape and gave him a shoe lace. Then he laced the string through the holes. I was impressed by how much he had improved in doing this activity since the last time we had done it!
  • Throughout the week we had a lot of fun playing with all of our pumpkins. I liked laying Elise on the floor and putting pumpkins just out of her reach to get her to roll to them. She loved grabbing the pumpkins and looking at the pumpkins. I also put some beans in the pumpkins that opened up and shook them for Elise. She liked listening to them. Carter also liked shaking the pumpkins for her.
    Shaking a pumpkin with beans in it.

  • I pulled out orange tissue paper we already had and then traced and cut a pumpkin out of thicker paper. I showed Carter how to put glue on a section of the pumpkin and then rip tissue paper and lay it down to color the pumpkin. He loved ripping the paper and it's good practice with fine motor skills. After a while he asked for scissors and wanted to cut the tissue paper so I got him some. Then he colored a small piece of paper green for the stem and glued it to the top of the pumpkin.
  • Last year Carter made a paper plate pumpkin by painting a paper plate orange. Then I made his handprint with green paint and glued it to the top to make a stem. This year I did that craft with Elise. It cracks me up that she does the same things Carter did while painting when he was a baby. She grabbed the edge of the plate and swung it around in the air a lot! When her pumpkin was dry and finished I showed it to Carter and asked him if he wanted to make one too. He said no and he'd already made a pumpkin so he didn't make one.
  • Going with tradition we again painted pumpkins this year. It was so much fun to have both Carter and Elise painting a pumpkin. Carter loved that I got a big pumpkin for him since he's a big boy and a little pumpkin for Elise since she's a baby. He was super independent with painting this year. He opened the paint containers by himself (eek!), poured the paint on all alone, and went to town painting. It resulted in pretty much an entire bottle of purple paint being used but it was so worth it for him to feel like a big boy!
  • When we got home from the pumpkin patch I told Carter what my favorite part was and then I drew a picture to show him. Then I asked him what his favorite part of the trip was. At the top of a piece of paper I wrote, My favorite part of the pumpkin patch was... Then he drew a picture and told me about it so I was able to label parts of his picture. I was really impressed when he drew himself with an attempted circle a line for his body and lines for arms that didn't quite connect to his body.
Special Snack:
  • Carter helped me make pumpkin bread and muffins. I love pumpkin and raisins together so we added raisins to the recipe. We had some bread with a little ice cream for dessert that night. Then Carter polished off the muffins throughout the week for snacks. He loved them!
Make Believe:
  • When we used the pumpkin die cuts to act out the Five Little Pumpkins rhyme, Carter loved playing with the pumpkins. So afterward he wanted to play pumpkins and had his pumpkin talk to my pumpkin. We played with them for quite a while making them talk to each other.
  • We  sang "I'm a Little Pumpkin" to the tune of "I'm a Little Teapot" complete with actions.
Field Trip/Interactive Experience:
  • Our big field trip was to the pumpkin patch. The one we go to has lots of hay bales, inflatables, animals, and toys to play with. Carter had so much fun he was asking to go again the next day. Of course there were also all kinds of pumpkins and gourds which Carter enjoyed checking out. Miss Elise loved playing with dead grass and hay. It was hilarious how much she enjoyed pulling hay out of the hay bale and playing with it!
    Elise and her hay bale.
    Carter checking out pumpkins.
    Wearing their pumpkin hats made by Oma, notice Elise going for the grass!
  • Perfect Pumpkins by Jeff Bauer
  • Pumpkin Circle: The Story of a Garden by George Levenson 
  • Pumpkin Soup by Helen Cooper
  • Sixteen Runaway Pumpkins by Dianne Ochiltree 
  • Patty's Pumpkin Patch by Teri Sloat
  • The Berenstain Bears and the Prize Pumpkin by Stan and Jan Berenstain 
  • Franklin's Pumpkin by Sharon Jennings
  • From Seed to Pumpkin by Jan Kottke 
  • How Many Seeds In A Pumpkin? by Margaret McNamara 
  • Pumpkin Eye by Denise Fleming 
  • Pumpkins by Ken Robbins
  • Pumpkins by Robin Nelson 
  • Pumpkins by Erika L. Shores
  • The Fierce Yellow Pumpkin by Margaret Wise Brown 
  • Pumpkin Day, Pumpkin Night by Anne Rockwell
  • Good Night, Little Pumpkin by Claire Kaey- this book was okay, I don't think I'll get it again next year
  • Pumpkin Baby by Jane Yolen
  • The Biggest Pumpkin Ever by Steven Kroll
  • Piggies in the Pumpkin Patch by Mary Peterson and Jennifer Rofe
  • It's Pumpkin Time by Zoe Hall
  • The Legend of Spookley the Square Pumpkin by Joe Troiano 
  • Spookley the Square Pumpkin Colors/Numbers by Joe Troiano
  • Duck and Goose Find a Pumpkin by Tad Hills
  • Pete the Cat: Five Little Pumpkins by James Dean 
  • Five Little Pumpkins by Ben Mantle 
  • Five Little Pumpkins by Dan Yaccarino
  • It's Pumpkin Day, Mouse! by Laura Joffe Numeroff

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