Monday, December 5, 2016

Weekly Learning Theme: Months

When we talked about days of the week and started a daily calendar routine I started forming a learning theme on months in my head. Carter didn't really have a concept of months and due to that had a hard time remembering when his birthday was. He recalled certain holidays and used them to make a time frame similar to months. He called October, Halloween time and has been asking when Christmas time and winter will be here. I figured it was the perfect time to start discussing months and I used the holidays and seasons to help him frame months into time frames that make sense to him. A main focus was discussing his birth date and helping him recall what day he was born.

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 have added working on his name as his teachers at school have asked us to work on it at home and I want to remember to include working on it in some form during each of our learning themes. 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.
  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).
  8. Recognize the letters in name, arrange them to spell name, begin to write name.
I adjusted Elise's objectives for this learning theme. I feel she is now ready to start working on skills rather than just being exposed to different things. I looked at the objectives I had for Carter during his first few learning themes when he was about the same age Elise is now and adjusted them to fit her needs. The experiences Elise was exposed to during our theme this week are highlighted below:
  • Play make believe/Imitate the behaviors of others (adults and children).
  • Know the names of and be able to point out body parts.
  • Groups things together by size or color/matches like objects, understands hard and soft.
  • Names common objects and is able to point them out.
  • Begin to hold writing tools and scribble spontaneously. Can draw a line. Differentiates between a circle and square.
  • Follows simple instructions (focusing on words such as in, on, beside, under).
  • Others: counts to two, refers to self by name. These I want to start to expose her to, but she isn't quite ready to master then yet.
  • I wrote our theme "Months of the Year" on a sentence strip. Carter pointed out the letters he recognized. Then we went through and I isolated a word and asked him to tell me the first letter of the word. Next we counted to see how many words were on the sentence strip.
  •  Back when Target had calendars in their dollar spot I asked Ty to pick one up for us. He wasn't sure which one to get so he got them both. We have one hanging on the wall, Carter picked the Dr. Seuss one, so we used the other calendar's month strips for some activities. The first thing we did was go through and look at the pictures on each strip. I read Carter the month name and then asked him what was in the picture. He described each one and told me what holiday, season, or activity it represented. We talked about why those pictures were on that strip, because they happened during that month.
  • We put the months in order and then went through and counted to see how many months there are in a year. As we counted I had Carter put the numeral next to the month to practice connecting numerals with the number they represent. I've been impressed with how interested he is in two-digit numbers. He likes discussing what numbers make up the number and what number it represents. He liked that there were 12 months and that 12 is a one and a two.
  • We sorted the months multiple different ways. We first sorted based on the first letter of the name. Then we counted to see how many months started with each letter. We talked about which letters we didn't have a month for and determined which letter had the most months that started with that letter. When we were finished, we put the months in alphabetical order.
  • I printed out pictures to represent holidays as well as seasons. I had Carter look at each card and match it to the month he thought it belonged with. When he was done we discussed which months certain holidays fell under and what season it was during each month. Then I showed him pictures of himself on certain holidays and during certain seasons. He then matched the picture of himself to the months he thought it belonged to. When we were finished I saved the pictures and hung the November pictures up beside the November calendar and then hung up the December pictures when we switched the calendar over for December. Each month we will put the pictures up to represent something he does during that month.
  • Another activity we did with our month strips was sorting the months into seasons. We discussed the kind of weather we have in each season. Then we looked at the pictures on the strips and allowed that to help us sort them into the season they went with. When we were done we played a game. I wrote each month on a piece of paper. Then I pulled one out at random and acted out the month by showing what I would wear and do during that month. Carter then guessed what month it was based on how I was acting. He figured out the correct season but took a few guesses to get the month so he didn't want to play anymore. I think the game was a little too hard for him since he's just learning the months. It would be something fun when he's older and better understands months.
  • I had Carter practice writing his name. As he did it we talked about which letters he has in his name. When he was finished he drew all over his name so I wrote his name on a different sheet of paper for an activity. Using his name written down to help us, we looked at each month and counted to see how many letters in the month were also in Carter's name. I planned to go through each month and keep track of how many of each letter he found by making marks on his paper but that was too much for him and we only made it through a couple months. He still did a great job identifying letters and counting. On a different day I found him standing at the wall with the months on it, tracing the letters and talking about the letters he found. I love that he comes up with such wonderful ideas for learning activities!
    Keeping track of the letters he finds in the month's name that are also in his name.
    Writing his name by tracing what I had written.
    Tracing letters in the months.
  • After we had done all the sorting activities with our month strips, I hung them on the wall. We went through and pointed at each month, saying it's name. Then I helped Carter add his, Elise, Ty, and my pictures next to our birthday months. Carter loved looking at it and telling me what month each of our birthdays was in. Then we hung a foam star next to the current month. Carter got excited when he realized the next month would be his birthday month.
  • We wrote a book about months. I would tell Carter a month and have him tell me a sentence to go with the month. When he was finished with the writing phase we worked together to illustrate it. I would show him two months and read him their sentences and he would choose which one he wanted to draw a picture for and I would draw a picture for the other page. While we worked, Elise drew some pictures of her own.

  • After we'd talked about what month our birthdays are in and what else happens in that month, I wrote December on the top of one page and March on another. On the bottom of the page I wrote their names and the day they were born on. Then the kids drew something to represent the month they were born in. Carter drew a present for December and then turned it over onto the back and drew a fire truck and a submarine.
Special Snack:
  • We ate some seasonal foods during this month including pumpkin.
Make Believe:
  • When we played the game where we acted out the month, we followed that up with pretending it was different seasons and acting out how the weather would feel during each seasons. We talked about which months fit into each season as we played.
  • I found these awesome month songs here. The teacher who wrote them has a blog and posted with the songs monthly back in 2012 so I had to search through to find each month's song but it was so worth it. They are awesome and we will use them year after year! We sang through all the songs and then colored the pages. Carter did a few and then moved on to drawing. I got to color the rest and enjoyed it so much. Then I took a page protector and taped it to the wall next to our calendar with all the month sheets in order so each month I can just pull the top one out and move it to the back. Carter really enjoys the songs and asks me to sing the month song we are on most days as we add the date to our calendar.
    Coloring the November song sheet.
  • I sang the month song I used in class a few times with Carter but for some reason he didn't like it very much. It's just the names of the month sang in order as you do the movements to the macarena. I thought Carter would like trying out the dance with me but he had no interest in it.
  • When Carter was a baby I made up a little chant I would say/sing to him to help him learn his name and the letters in his name as he got older. It goes like this: C-A-R-T-E-R, that spells Carter! I added in a part about his birthday to help him learn his birthday and it was amazing how quickly he picked it up. At first when I was attempting to teach him his birthday he kept getting confused on the day, wanting to say the 4th instead of the 14th. Once I started randomly saying/singing the chant to him during the day, he had his birthday down. I now chant: C-A-R-T-E-R, that spells Carter! When was he born, when was he born? December 14th! I also do one for Elise that has a little bit of a different rhythm to it since she was fewer letters in her name: E-L-I-S-E, that spells Elise! E-L-I-S-E, that spells Elise! When was she born, when was she born? March 21st!
  • We played this Starfall calendar game which I guess is really more of an interactive story. Can you tell I love Starfall and all it's wonderful resources?
 Field Trip/Interactive Experience:
  • I couldn't think of a field trip so I made it a little bit of a stretch. We talked about how many foods are seasonal because they grow and ripen during different seasons and different weather. We talked about how we picked blueberries this summer and then saw lots of apples at the grocery store during the fall. Then we went grocery shopping and while we were at the store we talked about seasonal foods we saw. Carter noticed pumpkins, apples, and apple cider were still out and there were lots of Christmas things starting to be put out.
  • The Snowflake: A Water Cycle Story by Neil Waldman
  • One Lighthouse, One Moon by Anita Lobel
  • Diary of a Worm by Doreen Cronin
  • Diary of a Spider by Doreen Cronin
  • Diary of a Fly by Doreen Cronin
  • How Do You Say It Today, Jesse Bear? by Nancy White Carlstrom
  • Chicken Soup With Rice by Maurice Sendak
  • CalendarBears: A Book of Months by Kathleen Hague
  • Long Night Moon by Cynthia Rylant
  • Once Around the Sun by Bobbi Katz
  • The Turning of the Year by Bill Martin
  • Months of the Year by Tracey Steffora
  • Months by Robin Nelson
  • Sing A Song of Piglets: A Calendar in Verse by Eve Bunting

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