Monday, July 11, 2016

Weekly Learning Theme: 4th of July

I enjoyed our 4th of July learning theme so much last year, I decided to do it again this year. We added a few new activities and adjusted some of our activities from last year, but also did some of the very same things we had last year. After our theme last year Carter became really interested in flags and our learning themes on China and Russia increased his interest. So it was a lot of fun to look at the American flag and talk a little bit more about it than we had last year. Of course, celebrating 4th of July is always a blast!

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.
  • I made pretty much the same sensory bin we had played with last year. I had saved all the materials in a bag and just dumped them out into a container I had filled with rice. Ever since our learning theme on China, Carter has asked for chopsticks in all of his sensory bins. He enjoyed stirring the rice with them as well as using them to pick up the foam stars. As he played we talked about the size and color of the stars, comparing them to each other. We also looked at the flag as he played and talked about how the stars and the colors related to the flag. This was the first time Elise actually got to play with a rice sensory bin. I always pull it out and let her try but she just won't keep the rice out of her mouth so we have to put it away. This time she tried to put it in her mouth a couple times, I told her no, and she moved on. The bead necklaces were her favorite. By the end she was wearing them all. She also liked shoving the chopsticks down into a tall pile of rice so they would stick up. Later I walked through and saw Carter's lacing shapes and shoelaces laying around. I threw in blue and red stars with a blue shoelace and a red shoelace.
    I love the pop of the red and blue on the white rice.
    He has started actually "cheesing" for pictures again!
    Getting creative with the chopsticks.
    Elise loved the beads!
    I found they make more of a mess sitting on the ground playing than they do playing at the table, that's why Elise is standing in a chair to play.
    Elise thought the chopsticks were a good addition to the sensory bin.
Carter lacing stars on the shoelace.
  • Last year I printed some free July 4th themed letter cards here. They are adorable and such a great tool so I pulled them out and we used them again. First I went through and had Carter identify the names of the letters. He was able to identify quite a few letters and their sounds. When he didn't know a letter, he'd tell me it's sound. He got really excited when he saw C for Carter, E for Elise, P for Paul, T for (Uncie) Taco, J for (Uncie) J, H for Harper, and D for Daddy. When he didn't know a letter, I'd tell him it's name and move on. Once we'd gone through the letters, I put them in alphabetical order and put them down as we sang the ABC's. Then we sang again and I touched the letter as we sang it. When we were finished Carter wanted to talk more about the letters and what words started with each letter.
    Using Uncie Taco as a pillow as we played with the letter cards.
  • When we played with Play Doh, I pulled out our star cookie cutters for Carter to play with. He enjoyed using the various sizes because we have quite a few different sizes of star cookie cutters. As he used them we talked about which cookie cutter was the biggest, smallest, etc.
    Cutting stars out of Play Doh.
  • Elise has been practicing putting objects in containers and then dumping them out, so we did that with smoke bombs. Typically she'd prefer to put the items in a container and then pull them out one at a time, but with the smoke bombs she happily turned the bag upside down to dump them all out when I handed it to her. Then she wanted to pick them up one by one and put them back in the bag. It was so cute to watch! We also practiced filling and dumping a bucket with foam stars from the sensory bin. I put them in one of Carter's sand buckets and allowed Elise to dump them and then pick them up. Like usual she preferred to pull them out one by one, but Carter was happy to run over and dump them out of the bucket for her. Elise would say "ah oh" (her version of uh oh) as Carter dumped them out and then she'd help pick the stars up. It was so funny! As we put the stars in the bucket we counted them. We also talked about what color they were and if they were big or small. One time we went through and picked out all the big stars, putting them in first and then adding all the small stars.
    Dumping out the smoke bombs.
    Getting ready to put stars in the bucket.
    Putting stars in the bucket.
    Putting stars in the bucket.
  • Carter really enjoyed fireworks this year. He enjoyed the sensory aspect of playing with the snakes and it gave us a great opportunity to discuss fire safety and being careful around things that are hot. He loved the smoke bombs and enjoyed using more than one smoke bomb at a time to mix the colors and see what color he made. It was fun to have him tell me what color they would make together. While we did fireworks we talked a little bit about how they were the same and how they were different. Most had fuses you lit, some gave off sparks, some made noise, etc. We also discussed our senses, when we lit fireworks, what did we see, hear, smell, feel? We also talked about what time of day was best for fireworks. Night was best for sparklers and fountains and we realized that smoke bombs and snakes were best during the day because we could see them better.
    Watching the snakes grow.
    Dancing around in the smoke from a smoke bomb.
    He had such a blast with the sparklers!
  • Carter's map from his Gigi and Papa continues to come in so handy! We pulled it out and I had Carter identify the United States of America on it. We was so proud he was able to locate it and tell me it was where we live. I told him we celebrate the 4th of July because it was when we declared our independence and became our own country. We then listened to facts about our country.
    He loves this map!
  • I wanted Carter to write a story either about his favorite thing he did on the 4th or something related to fireworks. We talked about writing a story a few different times but he was never interested. Instead I told him a story about when I was a kid and was shooting off fireworks. He helped me decide on a name "The Crazy Chicken" because the story was about a faulty firework that didn't go off at first when I lit it and then as I walked away it shot toward me and hit me in the bottom as I tripped over a tree root and fell. He thought the story was hilarious. Once I'd told him the story, I got out a book I had premade and planned out my pages as he watched. Then I wrote the story as he watched and laughed because he loved the story so much.
  • Last year I found a flash card deck in the dollar spot at Target with flags from around the world. Carter enjoyed flipping through the cards to find the American flag. He also liked looking at all the other countries' flags and discussing how the looked the same and how they looked different. He got excited to see the Chinese and Russian flags as he recognized them.
    Looking at flags from around the world.
  • I have some American symbols cards we used last year to sort by picture. This year I showed Carter each card and discussed what the picture was and why it is a symbol of our country/what it stands for. Then we played memory with the cards. It was the first time he enjoyed memory enough to want to play multiple times in a row. Each time he made a match he would laugh. 
    Checking his card for a match.
    I couldn't believe how much fun we had with this game!
  • We used some action cards that gave us different patriotic themed actions to do. It was fun to move around in different ways and to turn a card over to see which action we would do. I had a hard time getting a picture of Carter because he was moving in all the pictures. The actions were things like wave like a flag, march like a soldier, ring like a bell.
    Carter flying like an eagle.
    Carter twinkling like a star.
  • Throughout the week we talked about why we celebrate the 4th of July and what it means for our country. As we learned facts about our country we talked about why we like living here. Carter enjoyed reading books about the American flag as well as the Pledge of Allegiance which gave us more information about why Independence Day or July 4th is a special day.
  • Right before we started this learning theme Carter's Great Grandma Shupe sent him some patriotic stickers in the mail. They were great because they had different national landmarks and memorials on them. Before we used them, I told him what each picture was and why it was important. Then he used the stickers to make a patriotic picture.
    Looking at the stickers as I told him about the different monuments and landmarks.

Adding the stickers to a picture.
  • I wanted to make a fun July 4th themed art project with Elise like we had done with Carter when he was 18 months old. I decided on sparklers with her handprint and footprint. We tried it out on paper first. She was in her high chair eating a snack so I didn't have a solid backing for the paper which made the prints not turn out all that great but it gave me a good idea of how I wanted it and if I wanted to make yellow sparks coming out the top. Then I made tech shirts for Ty and myself with her sparklers on them and added the sparklers to the back of everyone else's American flag shirts Carter had made. They turned out super cute. Just for fun I also made the same American flag with a blue handprint  for the square and red foot prints as the stripes on paper like what I had done with Carter on shirts.
    My test on paper.
    My tech shirt for the race.
  • Carter got some practice with scissors by making an American flag out of construction paper. I drew out stripes on red paper and then a square on blue paper. His job was to cut on the lines as well as he could and then glue the stripes and square to the paper. As we worked I explained why the flag has 13 stripes and why there are 50 stars. It was a lot of work to cut out all the strips and Carter wanted help so I cut out some of them. We really focused on holding the scissors appropriately and he's gotten really good at using one hand and putting his thumb in the smaller hole. Once it was all glued together he added some star stickers to the blue square but was pretty much over the project so he only added a few stars and was never interested in finishing it. I had also planned on having him cut some strips to make a chain so we could countdown for fireworks/dark/nighttime, but since we were leaving before fireworks on the 4th and he had gotten practice cutting with his flag project I decided to drop that activity.
    Cutting the stripes.
    I love his concentration!
Special Snack:
  • We read Jamberry and then created a fruit pizza/berry snack. As we were preparing to decorate the large fruit pizza I realized it was going to be really difficult for Carter to wait until after dinner to try the pizza but I wanted Ty to get to see the flag. I decided to cut the bottom off to make the pizza more of a rectangle and allowed Carter and Elise to make little personal American flag fruit pizzas. Elise was cracking me up because she had one of her own but every time Carter looked away to pick up a piece of fruit to add to his pizza, she'd reach over and grab a chunk of his and eat it. Of course, she just stood on her chair and ate her sugar cookie base the entire time without decorating at all but that was to be expected.
Carter was so excited for the fruit pizza!
Making personal fruit pizzas.
Our finished large fruit pizza.
  • At the end of our Highlight magazine it showed how to make American flag toast. We tried it out and Carter loved it so we made it again during this learning theme. I used cream cheese leftover from a recipe and mixed in honey to make it easier to spread. Then we topped with strawberry jelly stripes and blueberries made into a square in the corner.

    Carter asked for this as a snack multiple times.
    Elise loved it too!
Make Believe:
  • Carter had so much fun with sparklers this year. He liked pretending they were different things. We also used them to practice writing out different letters and drawing shapes in the sky. He was so cute with it. His favorite was drawing circles. Each time he did a sparkler he wanted someone else to do one with him so they could play together.
    Opa and Carter writing with their sparklers.

  • We listened to Yankee Doodle, God Bless America, The Star Spangled Banner, My Country Tis of Thee, This Land is Your Land, and You're a Grand Ole Flag on Youtube. We also listened to a July 4th station on Pandora on the 4th and really enjoyed it.
Field Trip/Interactive Experience:
  • On the 4th we headed over to a neighborhood near my parents' house for a kid parade. Carter and Elise had a blast walking and riding as part of the festive parade. We all said the Pledge of Allegiance and sang Happy Birthday to America after the parade. Elise especially loved getting to wave her flag around as she walked. We also went to the festival down at the park and Carter enjoyed riding a few rides.
    Another kid brought this to ride and then wanted to walk instead so his dad gave it to Carter to ride.
    Elise absolutely loved waving her flag!
  • 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 
  • The American Flag by Lloyd G. Douglas
  • Apple Pie 4th of July by Janet S. Wong
  • Hats Off for the 4th of July by Harriet Ziefert
  • The American Flag by Lisa M. Herrington
  • Fourth of July Mice by Bethany Roberts
  • I Am America by Charles R. Smith Jr.
  • This Land Is Your Land by Woody Guthrie
  • Why Are There Stripes on the American Flag? by Martha E. H. Rustad
  • Independence Day by Trudi Strain Trueit
  • Betsy Ross and the American Flag by Kay Melchisedech Olson
  • Happy 4th of July, Jenny Sweeney! by Leslie Kimmelman
  • Sweet Land of Liberty by Callista Gingrich
  • Flags of the World by Sylvie Bednar
  • Wemberly's Ice-Cream Star by Kevin Henkes
  • Jamberry by Bruce Degen

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