Monday, March 20, 2017

Weekly Learning Theme: Ocean/Beach

To generate excitement before our trip to Florida and to learn more about an area we would be visiting, I planned an ocean/beach learning theme for the week of our trip. There were so many fun things to do and the kids really enjoyed learning more about ocean animals. I did an ocean learning theme for Carter as one of our very first learning themes back in 2014 and reused many of those ideas with Elise during this theme.

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 (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). 
  8. Recognize the letters in name, arrange them to spell name, begin to write name.
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 put together a beach sensory bin. Ideally it would have had sand as the base but I just didn't want that kind of mess inside the house. We have a sand box in the backyard that the kids have been playing in quite a bit so I didn't feel the need to double up on sand. Instead I used beans as the base and Carter called them "pretend sand" then I added seashells, a bucket, a dolphin sand toy, and some shovels and scoops to the bin. The kids' favorite thing to do was put beans in the seashells and then dump them out. Elise also liked filling the bucket with seashells or beans and then dumping it out.
  • I used sticky paper to put the letters of Carter's name on seashells. He then put the seashells in order to spell his name. When he was done I added the seashells to the sensory bin. He liked digging through and pulling out his letter seashells and then spelling his name again.
  • I pulled out an ocean puzzle we have. Carter wanted to put it together without any help so I just sat and watched him. As he put the puzzle together we talked about the colors of the fish and the different kinds of fish in the picture. When he had the puzzle put together I pointed out different kinds of fish and asked him to count to see how many of the fish there were in the picture or in the school of fish.
  • Thomas got Elise a cute little fishing toy for Christmas. It came with 2 pink fish, 2 blue fish, and a fishing pole. I got the fish out and had Carter sort them. I figured he'd sort them based on color but he decided to sort them by fat and tall which surprised me. Then he counted to see how many of each kind he had. I played with Elise and we sorted them based on color. I had Carter describe the fish and we talked about how they were the same and how they were different. We spent a lot of time comparing their fins. We also made patterns with the fish based on color as well as which direction they were facing. The fish have magnets on their mouths and we discovered that the pink and blue fish were opposite poles and would attract while the same color fish were the same poles and would repel. Carter loved making the fish "kiss" by attaching their magnets. When we were finished experimenting with their magnets, we played with them. Carter liked catching them in his net from the Elefun game. Elise copied him and did the same thing. They ended up in the sensory bin with the beans and shells which was a blast. Carter enjoyed covering them up with beans and then having me find them.
    Making a pattern with how they were facing.
  • To practice with identifying names of objects, when we played in our sand box I asked Elise to name what she was playing with and she'd say sand. We did the same thing at the beach. I also pointed at the ocean and asked her what it was and she said water. When we played with fish, she also named them.

  •  I cut some circles out of construction paper to make circle sea animals with Elise. We talked about how each of the shapes was a circle. Then we compared their size and ordered them based on size. I told Elise which one was big, medium, and small. She then glued them down to paper and I drew around them to turn them into an octopus, a jellyfish, and a fish. Elise added some color to the picture as well.
  • After our trip to the beach I had Carter write a story about it. I asked him to think about our trip to the beach and decide on a story he wanted to write. He picked getting knocked down by a wave. I then helped him plan out his story and I wrote down the words as he dictated to me. When I was finished writing I read him the words one page at a time so he could illustrate his story. As he worked Elise drew a picture.
  • Elise picked out Dory dominoes to give Carter for his birthday and we pulled them out to play with them. At first Carter was disappointed they were thin because he likes putting dominoes up to make a train and then knocking them down. We talked about the different animals in the pictures and named them. Then I showed him how we match dominoes by putting the same picture next to each other. He was doing a great job and then Elise got involved and started grabbing all the dominoes with otters on them so we moved on to something else.
  • I saw a cute octopus counting activity on pinterest, you can find it here. I didn't read the instructions, I just saw the picture and did it my own way. Since octopi have 8 tentacles I wrote the numbers 1-8 on the head of the octopus (which I messed up and made more the shape of a jellyfish, oh well). Then I cut out 8 tentacles and helped the kids glue them to the octopus' head. They then used dabbers to make the correct number of dots for each number listed above the tentacle. I could have also put the dots on the tentacles and then had the kids match the tentacle to the correct number. The kids love dabber markers so I let them do the dabbing. When they were finished with the tentacles I let them make the face however they wanted. Carter picked googly eyes and yarn for the mouth. I was watching a friend's kids when we did this and her daughter wanted to make one too. Elise ended up mostly just doing her dabber wherever which was fine. Once Carter saw hers he decided he wanted to dab on the octopus' head too so he added that to the face.
  • I had a couple Scholastic News magazines about the ocean and ocean animals so I pulled them out to read. Elise liked looking at the octupus and pointing out it's suction cups on it's tentacles. Carter liked seeing pictures of different ocean animals.
  • We visited the aquarium for their special aqua tots program. After reading a book to the kids, they got to make a fish craft. They drew on black construction paper with white crayons to draw fish that live deep in the ocean. Then they added jewels to their picture with glue dots. I was really impressed with Carter because he drew a lantern fish. It looked awesome and was the perfect fish to draw deep in the ocean!
    Elise's picture, I drew for her and then she added all the jewels.
    Carter made his picture all by himself.
  • I saw a picture of paper bag jellyfish on pinterest. This was another one where I just went off the picture and didn't read instructions, you can find the website here. For some practice with cutting I let the kids each cut up the bottom of the paper bag to make the jellyfish's tentacles. Then they used dabbers to decorate their jellyfish and we added googly eyes to the top. We played with the jellyfish like they were puppets, being silly and making them talk.
  • This was another one I saw a picture of and copied without reading the instructions. You can find out more here. I love handprint and footprint crafts so when I saw this footprint starfish, I was all in. Elise's feet ended up being a little big to keep them all on the paper so I decided not to do it with Carter. It turned out really cute though.
  • I planned to make a paper plate fish with Carter like we had done during our last ocean theme but he made one at school that week so we didn't do it. We saw my parents right after he had made it and he decided to give it to them so I don't have a picture of it. You can find similar ones here.
Special Snack:
  • I bought goldfish as a special beach snack. We ate them with our lunch on the plane on the way to Florida and then also enjoyed them as a snack at the beach, even sharing them with some birds. We talked about the colors of the goldfish because Carter picked out the colorful ones. Then we sorted them and made some patterns with them as well. Perfect entertainment on the plane!
Make Believe:
  • Before we left for Florida we pretended we were getting ready for the beach. I asked Carter what we needed to pack in our beach bag. He listed different things he thought we would need and we collected them and put them in our beach bag. We also talked about the importance of sunscreen and practiced applying it to our exposed skin. As we packed clothing we talked about what part of our body we wear it on and I had Elise point out that body part on herself.
  • We had so much fun pretending to be different ocean animals. We would move and talk like certain animals. Carter's favorite was making whale noises. It was so cute to hear him do it too.
  • We enjoyed singing Baby Beluga which used to be one of Carter's favorite songs. We also sang Down By the Bay which is a current favorite of his.
  • I found quite a few different ocean themed app games on my phone. My favorite was an Ocean dot-to-dot game where Carter had to identify the numerals and connect the dots between the numbers to make the lines. His favorites were ocean coloring pages and a game where you played seashells to make music. I also downloaded an ocean match and some ocean puzzle games. He liked them all and Elise enjoyed an Ocean Counting game which I let her play for a little bit on the plane.
 Field Trip/Interactive Experience:

  • Before we left on our trip we went to the aquarium and looked at different ocean animals. We discussed which animals lived in the ocean and which ones might also live on the beach. We talked about what animals we might see while we were there and Carter thought he was most likely to see a crab. He even told my grandpa he thought he might see a crab on the beach! We read the names of the different animals and as we walked around we discussed how the animals were the same and how they were different.
  • The highlight of this learning theme was our trip to the beach. It's not often when we are able to end a learning theme by actually going to the place we've been learning about! Carter loved playing in the sand as well as running around in the waves. The sand was definitely a huge hit with Elise having a blast playing in it as well! To her it was like a giant sand box!
  • Beach by John Hutton
  • At the Beach by Salina Yoon
  • Who Grows Up in the Ocean? by Theresa Longenecker
  • Seaweed Soup by Stuart J. Murphy
  • Scaredy Squirrel at the Beach by Melanie Watt
  • Peekaboo! Sea by Laura Green
  • Wave by Suzy Lee
  • Llama Llama Sand and Sun by Anna Dewdney
  • Max Explores the Beach by Reji Laberje
  • Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister
  • One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish by Dr. Seuss
  • Baby Beluga by Raffi
  • Down By the Bay by Raffi
  • Mister Seahorse by Eric Carle
  • Swimmy by Leo Lionni
  • Happy by Miles van Hout
  • A Day at the Beach: A Book of 123s by Sterling Children's Books
  • Deep Deep Sea by Frann Preston-Gannon
  • Fish Eyes by Lois Ehlert
  • Baby Animals in the Sea by Kingfisher
  • Kiss, Kiss, Pout-Pout Fish by Deborah Diesen
  • Patterns at the Seashore by Dawn Bluemel Oldfield
  • The Seashore Book by Charlotte Zolotow
  • Senses at the Seashore by Shelley Rotner
  • At the Beach by Anne F. Rockwell
  • Miranda's Beach Day by Holly Keller
  • One White Wishing Stone: A Beach Day Counting Book by Doris K. Gayzagian
  • Baby Dolphin at Home in the Ocean by Sarah Toast
  • My Shell Book by Ellen Kirk
  • If You Want to See a Whale by Julie Fogliano
  • Sail Away by Donald Crews
  • One Fish, Two Fish, Three, Four, Five Fish by Dr. Seuss Nursery
  • A House for Hermit Crab by Eric Carle
  • The Pout-Pout Fish in the Big-Big Dark by Deborah Diesen