Monday, June 27, 2016

Weekly Learning Theme: The World Around Us

The We started a weekly learning theme about the world around us way back in April for Earth Day (read about last year's Earth Day learning theme here) but I just wasn't feeling it. I wasn't finding the motivation to request books at the library or carve out time in our day to do the planned activities, so I didn't. At first I thought maybe I just wasn't super interested in the topic so I asked Carter what he wanted to learn about. To which he normally responds with some random topic and we venture into learning about it. This time he said, "NOTHING! I don't want to learn about anything right now!!!" So I decided we needed to take a break from learning themes until we were both excited about them again. It's only fun to forge together learning about a topic when we are all excited about it. When we aren't excited it feels forced and like a waste of time. There are so many teachable moments in our days that learning themes aren't really necessary. We just do them because I enjoy planning themes and it helps me make sure I change up activities and expose Carter and Elise to lots of different topics and materials. So now here we are about 2 months later and I found myself itching to take on a new learning theme. I guess we just needed a little "summer break" early. So I went ahead and finished up this theme before moving on to a new one. This time around we loved it which solidified for me that we had needed a break.

Listed below are the objectives I am focusing on for the themed weeks.  I have revised our objectives to really hone in and focus on specific skills Carter will need to master before kindergarten and are appropriate to his age and development right now. 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.  I'm also adding in a section for Elise now that she is a year old. I don't considers her bullet points objectives, they are experiences I want to make sure to expose her to frequently. Her experiences are listed below Carter as bullet points rather than numbers. 

The highlighted objectives below are ones Carter received exposure to during our theme this week:
  1. Begin to organize and focus on writing. (Dictate stories, plan out a story, draw pictures and scribbles to create a book).
  2. Understand same and different.
  3. Accurately tell stories as well as retell the story from a book. 
  4. Use age appropriate scissors.  (I'm moving on to looking for a thumb and forefinger grasp with writing tools and holding scissors appropriately)
  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 with one-to-one correspondence, begin to identify numerals, being to use ordinal numbers (first, second, last).
Experiences Elise was exposed to during our theme this week are highlighted below:
  • Pretend play/Imitate the behaviors of others.
  • Begin to identify and point at body parts. (Right now I just want to say body parts aloud to her frequently and point them out on myself)
  • Group based on simple characteristics. (This is something I will do while talking aloud and allowing her to feel objects)
  • Fill and empty containers.
  • Begin to hold writing tools and scribble spontaneously.
  • We found a blueberry farm near our house where all proceeds of blueberry sales go to sending medical missionaries to third world countries. We decided instead of buying blueberries at the store each week, we'd go blueberry picking once a week to get our blueberries. So far we've been 3 times and Carter LOVES it! I think mostly because he can sample the blueberries as we pick.
    Our first trip with Hayden.
    Our second trip he had things all figured out and would just get up underneath the nets for easier picking.
  • Carter got the chance to help me plant some marigolds flowers which we got for free at a festival downtown. He also got to plant some cosmo flowers from seeds at his Oma and Opa's house. After planting the seeds he kept wanting to go over and check on them and wondered why he couldn't see them yet. It was so funny! He also helped me water our blackberry bush, the marigolds, and the flowers he and Elise gave me for Mother's Day.
    Pointing out where he had planted seeds in Oma and Opa's backyard.
  • While we played with sand I showed Elise how to put sand in the bucket and then pour it back out. We also did that while playing with grass and rocks.
  • We played a fun game where I found something in the yard and put it in a bucket from our sand box. Then I gave the bucket to Carter and sent him out into the yard to find a matching item. He loved the game and even started doing it to me, telling me to close my eyes and then handing me the bucket with something in it. It was also fun because it made us both search the yard a little closer and we noticed things we hadn't seen before.
  • Every time we go out on a run I search for animals and different things in nature as I run. That way I can point them out to Carter and entertain him as we go. I continued doing that during our learning theme and one day we found a flower that looked like a giant dandelion. I tried to figure out what it was by searching the internet when we got home but didn't have any luck.
  • Our worms in our worm farm were still going strong so we observed them during the week. Then at the end of the week, we let the worms go in the yard.
  • We went on a nature hunt in our backyard, searching for items to put in our nature sensory bin. We collected rocks, sticks, bark, leaves, and flowers. Carter loved collecting the items and as we added new things, we'd discuss their texture. We used our sense words to compare the items later when he played with the sensory bin.
  • To practice sorting with Elise we sorted our materials from our sensory bin into piles for hard and soft. Elise participated by feeling the object. Then Carter would tell her whether it was hard or soft and I would add it to the corresponding pile. She enjoyed getting to feel lots of different items.
  • We sang a song about our 5 senses and then talked about them a bit more. After that we used all of our senses to describe things we saw in nature.
  •  I found some blank books in the Target Dollar Spot so, of course, I bought them. I showed them to Carter after we had seen the birds in our backyard and he was inspired to write a story about a family of birds. It was so cute and he cracks me up with the names he comes up with! He planned out his story and told me what he wanted each page to say. Toward the end he got tired of drawing and asked me to finish the pictures for him so I did.
  • While we were outside during the day, I'd ask Carter to listen to what was around him and really pay attention to what he heard and where the sound was coming from. Then we went outside at nighttime and listened. We talked about how the noises we heard at night were different from the noises we heard during the day. We also used it as an opportunity to talk a little bit about animals that go out during the day and animals that go out during the night. We've talked about nocturnal animals before and we talked about it a little bit again. At a different time we went outside and focused on feel, talking about how the wind felt on our faces and then how it smelled.
  • Carter made a craft by gluing grass on paper. Ty had just mowed the lawn so we collected some of the grass and then he glued it and leaves to a piece of paper to make a piece of artwork.
Special Snack:
  • We used the blueberries we picked to make blueberry muffins. I found the recipe here and it was amazing! We actually ended up going blueberry picking once a week and Ty would get so excited when we went because he knew we would whip up a batch of muffins with our newly picked berries. I always made a couple muffins without the topping for Elise to limit her sugar intake.
    Addison, Carter, and Hayden helping me make muffins after our first blueberry picking trip.
Make Believe:
  • There are some baby birds in the bird house in our backyard. Carter liked to watch them come to the hole with their beaks open wide for food. Then he wanted to play baby birds inside. He'd open his mouth wide pretending to be a baby bird and he wanted me to feed him worms (shoe laces). We also made a giant nest on the living room floor, collecting lots of blankets (leaves) and clothes (sticks). It was a lot of fun!
This was the best picture I got of our baby birds. It was hard to get a picture!

  • We listened to the Five Senses song from Dr. Jean's Kiss Your Brain cd. It was a lot of fun to dance to it similar to Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes. We would point to our body part that we use for each sense.
Field Trip/Interactive Experience:
  • We were down by the water at the Riverside trails and kept an eye out for animals. We saw lots of different kinds of bids, Carter loves to point out robins, as well as rabbits, geese, and goslings. When we saw the goslings we discussed how they looked the same as the adult geese and how they looked different. Carter loved seeing the goslings and we had just read the book "Mother Bruce" which showed the different ages of geese as they grow up. We decided the goslings were teenagers.
    We didn't want to get too close, but here's a big group of geese and goslings.
    Some stragglers heading over with the others.
  • Throughout our time talking about nature we went on lots of walks and stopped to look at different natural wonders like flowers and lakes. We even took time for Carter to climb trees.
  • We went on a few different hikes at our favorite hiking spot. Elise started walking for part of our hikes and she loved it! I was amazed at how well she did, stepping over stones and roots and generally just being a straight boss. Carter loves to pick up sticks to use as walking sticks as we go.
  • We also enjoyed going over to see Ty's Aunt Brenda and got to feed the ducks with her. Carter tends to want to eat a bite of bread for every piece he feeds the ducks. It was fun to see the duck and watch them swim.

I'm going to be perfectly honest here, I didn't feel like requesting a bunch of books like we normally do. For this learning theme we just stuck with books we owned at home and a few others we found while browsing that fell under this theme. I know there are way more really awesome books about nature out there, I just wasn't in the mood to find them.
  • In My World by Lois Ehlert
  • Traces by Paula Fox
  • Giving Thanks by Jonathan London
  • The Lorax by Dr. Seuss
  • The Earth Book by Todd Parr 
  • Riki's Birdhouse by Monica Wellington
  • The Curious Garden by Peter Brown
  • A Place for Butterflies by Melissa Stewart
  • Curious George Plants a Tree by H.A. Rey
  • Are Trees Alive? by Debbie S. Miller
  • All the Way to the Ocean by Joel Harper
  • 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 Seed by Eric Carle
  • Sing-Along Song by JoAnn Early Macken 
  • A Gift From the Sea by Kate Banks

No comments:

Post a Comment