Friday, April 7, 2017

Weekly Learning Theme: St. Patrick's Day

I'm super late getting this post up. We did our St. Patrick's Day learning theme the week of St. Patrick's Day but since that fell right before Elise's birthday I was too busy with her birthday posts to do this one. St. Patrick's Day has always been a fun holiday to do a learning theme for. There are so many activities that go along with the color green and I always enjoy any excuse to use food coloring. Read about our St. Patrick's Day learning theme in 2015 here. We have done fun St. Patrick's Day activities each year but that was the only other year I made it into a learning 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.
  • To start our theme off I wrote St. Patrick's Day on a sentence strip. I had Carter look at the words on the sentence strip and point out the letters he recognized. We used the sentence strip to talk about the letter Tt. I had him point out the lower case t's in the words and then I asked him to tell me what a capital T looks like.
  • Carter brought home an assessment sheet from school a while ago where he was asked to identify certain items. One thing on the sheet was identifying capital and lowercase letters. There were some lowercase letters he didn't recognize so we are working more on them. Each learning theme I will pick out a letter in the word on his sentence strip to review. This week was Tt so I made capital and lowercase Tt's out of yarn and glued them to paper. I taped them to our door so Carter could look at them and run his fingers over the yarn to feel it before leaving the house. He also used his special letter cards from his Opa to practice writing capital and lowercase Tt's.
  • We talked about how green is the color of St. Patrick's Day. We used that as an opportunity to review mixing colors and I talked with Carter about which colors we mix together to make green. Then we played with shaving foam. I let Carter and his friend who was over for the day add the food coloring to their shaving foam. Then they mixed the colors together to make the shaving foam green. While we were playing with the shaving foam I had Carter practice writing his name.
  • I printed a cute rainbow scavenger hunt I found here. I taped it to a page in Carter's notebook and he took it along in the car. He loved looking out the window, finding items that fit the color he was looking for, and recording them. I told him he could write or draw what he saw and he ended up just drawing scribbles on the lines but was able to tell me everything he found. He was very proud that he found something to fit each color. He was so cute in his car seat with the notebook in his lap and a pen behind his ear!
  • I saw a cute alphabet matching game here. I did the same thing, making circles on a piece of paper the size of our gold coins. Then I wrote the lowercase letters on them. I traced our gold coins onto sticky paper and then cut the circles out and wrote the capital letters on them. I told Carter a leprechaun needed his help matching his gold to the letter that matched it on the paper. If he could do it, the leprechaun would give him a treat. It was interesting to watch him go through and pick out the lowercase letters he knew and then find their capital letter. Then he looked at the lowercase letters and guessed what letter they may be based on his knowledge of what the capital letters look like. He did a great job and when he was finished I gave him a gold coin that was chocolate inside. He loved the game and wanted to play it over and over, taking turns pretending to be the leprechaun. The leprechaun would hide the gold and the other person would find it and then sort it onto the paper. It was a lot of fun!
  • I put together a St. Patrick's Day sensory bin using beans as the base. Then I added in green beads, green scarves, gold coins, green shovels, and shamrocks. I had Carter pick up a number and then count out gold to find the correct number of gold coins.
  • During our last St. Patrick's Day learning theme I cut small, medium, and large shamrocks out of green construction paper so Carter could sort them based on size. I did the activity with Elise this time, talking about the size of the shamrocks and then working on sorting them together.
  • I made a shamrock balance beam using foam shamrocks I got at Dollar Tree last year. I taped the shamrocks to the ground in a line with double sided tape. Carter immediately noticed I had created a pattern and pointed it out to me, explaining what my pattern was. Then he practiced walking on it. It was harder for him to walk in a straight line than I had expected. Elise saw him walking on it and was desperate to try it too.
  • We had a special green bath on St. Patrick's Day. I added in the green toys from our sensory bin for the kids to play with. When we went to make the water green I asked Carter to tell me what colors we needed to use to make green and then each of the kids got to throw a tablet into the water.
  • We used the foam shamrocks to play with Elise. I showed her the shamrock in different places and told her the shamrock was over, under, beside, and behind as I moved the shamrock. Then I asked her to put it different places, even adding in some body parts to cover using the shamrock. 
  • I had a few St. Patrick's Day Scholastic News articles which I pulled out along with our St. Patrick's Day books. Carter enjoyed reading them and pointing out the gold on each page. One had a pie chart which we talked about and I asked him questions about it that he answered by interpreting the information on it.
  • I printed an outline of a leprechaun's face here. The kids drew a face on their leprechaun and then colored the rest of the picture. Carter was very upset that Elise colored a little bit on his paper with a purple marker as he was finishing up.
  • We used marshmallows as stamps to make shamrocks. I showed the kids how to dip the marshmallow into paint and then use it as a stamp to make 3 circles before adding a stem to make it into a shamrock. Carter had a blast with it. Elise just kept trying to eat her marshmallow even though it had paint on it, even after I gave her a clean one to eat. She ended up just fingerpainting because it was too tempting to eat the marshmallow!
  • We also did a marble shamrock painting. I cut a shamrock out of white paper and taped it to the bottom of a pan. Then I put a little green paint on it and let the kids drop a marble into the paint. They then held the pan and turned it in different directions to get the marble to make tracks on their paper. Elise thought it was a lot of fun to watch but mostly wanted me to do the moving of the marble so she could watch.
Special Snack:
  • We started a tradition a few years ago of reading Green Eggs and Ham on St. Patrick's Day and then eating green eggs for breakfast. The kids love it. This year when I was done reading the book Elise picked it up and started "reading" it to us.
  • Oma and Opa brought us some special shamrock cupcakes when they came to visit for the St. Patrick's Day 5k. They had green icing and were mint flavored. I'm not big on mint so I was pleased to discover the mint flavor was very minimal.
  • We also enjoyed green milk along with kiwi and broccoli with our lunch on St. Patrick's Day. As an extra treat we had some macaroni and cheese to go with it. I put the green dye down into the kids' cups and then poured the milk in. Carter hadn't seen me put the dye into his cup so he was shocked when it turned green and couldn't figure out how I had done it! He decided I must be magic, like a leprechaun, before I explained to him how I did it.
Make Believe:
  • My favorite was pretending to be leprechauns. I had set out a dress up box in the living room full of green clothes and props. Carter went in one day and put on a bunch of the clothes, pretending to be a leprechaun. We took turns being leprechauns and hiding our gold. The other person would search for the gold. We used a green mug as our pot and we'd make sure to count the coins as we found them so we knew for sure we'd found all the coins when we were finished.
  • Every year on St. Patrick's Day we listen to a St. Patrick's Day station on my Pandora account. Carter has always loved it in the past but was less impressed by it this year.
  • We also sang songs I had previously used in my classroom.
St. Patrick's Day Is Here
To the tune of "The Farmer in the Dell"
St. Patrick's Day is here.     
St. Patrick's Day is here.     
Let's give a clap and dance a jig,
St. Patrick's Day is here.   
Catch Him If You Can
To the tune of "The Muffin Man"
Oh, have you seen a leprechaun,
A leprechaun, a leprechaun?
Oh, have you seen a leprechaun,
Who comes from Ireland?
Among the shamrocks he may hide,
He may hide, he may hide.
Among the shamrocks he may hide,
So catch him if you can.     
I'm a Little Leprechaun
To the tune of "I'm a Little Teapot"
I'm a little leprechaun
Dressed in green,
The tiniest man
That you have ever seen.
If you ever catch me, so it's told,
I'll give you my pot of gold.
  • We read a cute story called Find a Four Leaf Clover here. Carter liked following the directions in the book and then seeing the rainbow pop up.
  • I found a St. Patrick's Day memory game here. Carter loves playing memory and wanted to play this one a few different times. Each time he'd win, it would add more cards to the next game and he kept going for a few games before wanting to go on to something else.
 Field Trip/Interactive Experience:
  • We went to the Botanic Garden for a special event called Good, Green Fun. They had a table set up for kids to do a craft and they had musicians playing Irish music throughout the day. There were also golden rocks hidden throughout the children's garden for the kids to find. I didn't even realize they had done that until Carter found one. He had the option of keeping the rock or turning it in for a temporary tattoo and he picked to keep the rock. Elise found a rock later with Carter's help so they each had one. Carter had asked me to put his rock in my backpack which I did. Then Elise threw her rock into the pond. When I bent over to get her rock out of the water, Carter's rock fell out of my bag and into the water. It was pretty funny. I was able to retrieve both of their rocks.
    Carter and Elise with their rocks, Elise had poured water on her pants, that's why she's just in a onesie.

I was less than impressed with a lot of the books I got at the library during our 2015 learning theme so I just stuck with the books we have at home this year.
  • Green, Green by Kana Riley
  • Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss
  • The Night Before St. Patrick's Day by Natasha Wing
  • Just a Little Luck by Mercer Mayer
  • Looking for Leprechauns by Sheila Keenan
  • The Leprechaun Who Lost His Rainbow by Sean Callahan
  • St. Patrick's Day by Mari Schuh
  • Patrick, Patron Saint of Ireland by Tomie DePaola
  • St. Patrick's Day by Josie Keogh
  • There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed a Clover by Lucille Colandro

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