Monday, July 17, 2017

Weekly Learning Theme: Senses

Since I started doing learning themes way back when I started staying home with Carter, I just write down ideas for themes in a spiral notebook when I think of a theme and then as I find books that fit into themes, I write them down in my notebook with the theme's title. I have more ideas than we can get through so I currently have 3 different spiral notebooks going since each time I fill one with ideas, I start a new one. I've been trying to finish off the themes from my first notebook so I can be down to 2 notebooks left but I still have 11 themes left in it. I decided to finish planning and then jump into a learning theme on our senses. I figured it would be a fun and simple theme and it would be one less theme in my first spiral notebook since when I finish a theme I tear it out of the notebook and add it to a spiral notebook in alphabetical order with all other finished themes. I feel like my system is organized but fairly free-style. It works for me. Carter had a blast with this learning theme and Elise surprised me with how much she retained!

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 introduced the learning theme by showing Carter the word senses on a sentence strip and telling him it was our next learning theme. I had him count to see how many letters were in the word. Then I asked him to identify what letters made up the word senses. Then I asked him if there were any letters in the word more than once and he pointed out the letter e was in the word twice and the letter s was in the word 3 times. We also talked about letter sounds. I love using this as a way to introduce what our next learning theme will be because Carter gets excited to discover what the sentence strip says so he'll know what we will be learning about. It is also such a simple way to incorporate various learning opportunities such as counting, letter recognition, and letter/sound recognition, as well as identifying items that are the same and items that are different.
  • We started off our learning about senses by referring to a chart I used in my classroom during science lessons to help guide students to use all their senses in observing the world around them. I had Carter point out the pictures along the side of the chart, identifying the body part and telling me what sense we use that body part for. Then I had Elise point out those body parts on herself. I expanded touch to not just our hands but all of our skin as we can feel things with any part of our body, it's just easiest to manipulate while feeling with our hands. Then I read Carter the questions written next to each sense and discussed how they can help us describe objects to others.
  • We used Mr. Potato Head to discuss our body parts we use for each sense. I told Carter a sense and asked him to find the body part that goes with it to place on the potato head. When he was finished I told Elise different body parts and asked her to point them out on the potato head.
    Elise identifying body parts on the potato head.
    Carter adding body parts to the potato head.
  • Of course we also had to play the old tried and true, reach into the bag and guess what's in it by using your sense of touch. Carter is really good at this game and always really enjoys it. I had him stretch himself by attempting to describe how it felt. I reminded him of some different ways we describe how things feel such as: hard, soft, squishy, rough, smooth, round, pointed, etc. He did a pretty good job telling me how the object felt but he always wanted to identify what it was first. Then I'd have him tell me how he knew what it was, what things did he feel that gave it away. I tried playing this with Elise but she didn't want to put her hand in the bag. She just wanted to dump the bag out.
  • We have two different kinds of blocks. We have some wooden blocks and some squishy blocks. I got out a few of each to play with. I had Elise feel a wooden block and I told her it was hard. Then I had her feel the rubber block and I told her it was soft. I had Carter help her sort the blocks into two groups: soft and hard. We then counted how many hard blocks we had, how many soft blocks we had, and how many blocks we had all together. Then I had Carter practice with his sense of touch by blindfolding him and asking him to build towers without using his sense of sight. He was really good at it and loved playing with a blindfold on.
  • Throughout the week we talked a lot about how things look the same and how they look different. We also talked about how things smell and compared them to other smells, discussing how they smell the same and how they smell different. We did this with each of our senses. One day we were getting in the car and Carter told me he wanted to play a special game since we're learning about senses and he suggested playing "I Spy with My Little Eye." It was very cute and we enjoyed playing it! 
  • I planned to set up a sound sensory area in the form of a music center filled with lots of instruments. When I did that I came up with the idea of making a special sensory area for each sense in different places within our house. I put a label with the name of the sense we used in that area and we talked about it when we played. The sound sensory area was a big hit and Carter loved trying out different instruments and discussing the sounds they made. It cracked me up because he has a drawer of instruments in his room to play with and I just pulled it out and put it on the living room floor. Since it was in a different room it was like having totally different toys!
  • For our sight sensory area I put the word see on the window along with a sentence strip with the question, "What do you see?" Carter named the letters in the words and we counted to see how many letters were in each word. He loved looking out the window and describing to me what he saw. I asked him to describe with more detail than just telling me the names of things he saw, but also telling me attributes of the objects.
  • Four our sense of touch we created a sensory bin. I put beans down as the base. Then I asked Carter to help me find materials to put in our sensory bin. I'd ask him to find me a toy that was hard, then a toy that was soft, a toy that was smooth, and then a toy that was rough. He liked being the one to add things to the sensory bin. Then as we played with the sensory bin we discussed how things felt, how they sounded, how they looked, and even how they smelled.
  • To make a smelling sensory area I decided to dip little cards into liquids or rub different items across the bottom so the cards would have a small scented section. Then I wrote the name of what was on the card on the top. I put each card under Carter's nose for him to smell with the card upside-down so he wouldn't see what color the item was and get a hint. He did a great job, guessing each scent correctly except for hand sanitizer which he guessed was soap, so very close! He loved the activity. I put all the cards out on a cookie sheet for our smelling sensory area. He'd go over and smell things and we noted how the smells faded over time. Thomas came over one day and Carter was really excited to have him try the smelling challenge. Thomas didn't do nearly as well as Carter did!
    Carter smelling something and guessing what it is.
    Carter playing the smelling area.
  • I wrote each of the five senses down on a sentence strip. I had Carter match letters based on their beginning letter sounds. Then we counted to see how many words we had that started with the same letter. I had Carter guess what each word said based on his knowledge of the beginning letter sounds and of the five senses. We talked about how the words looked the same and how they looked different.
  • We played a "What's that Sound" game where I pulled up sound clips on Youtube and had the kids try to identify what was making the sound. I started with animal noises and then went off to random sounds like rain and a door closing. Carter loved that game and carried it on throughout the week. He'd make an animal noise and ask me to identify what animal it belonged to. He was amazingly good at picking sounds that could be various different animals such as whale or wolf (when he made the sounds they were very similar). 
  • At the end of the school year Carter brought home a progress report showing which letters he could identify by name and which letter sounds he could identify among other things. I hung it on the fridge and use it to practice more with the letters he didn't identify at school. To practice with sight I wrote the letters on little notecards. Then I asked Carter to point to the letter when I said it's name. Then to work on sounds I had him point to the letter when he heard it's sound. We talked about how he was actually using both his sense of sight and his sense of sound with both those activities.
    Pointing out letters when I say their name.
    Pointing at letters when I say their sound.
  • Carter created a book about senses while we went on a sensory walk and Elise created a page about senses. I helped Carter with his book by putting sentence starters in the book "I see... I hear... I smell... I taste... I feel..." When he had something to write down, we'd stop our walk and he'd draw a picture while I either helped him write the word or I wrote it for him. Elise drew on her page whenever Carter worked on his. Then as we walked if Elise told me something she saw, heard, smelled, tasted, or felt, I wrote it down on her paper to record it.
Carter's book about his senses.

Elise's work, she had just gotten stickers in the mail and wanted to use them on her page.
  • A while back with I was looking at fun ideas for practicing names, I saw an idea for creating scratch and sniff names using Jell-O. I thought a learning theme about senses would be the perfect time to do it! We had some expired chocolate pudding that I haven't wanted to throw away but have been concerned wouldn't set up right since it was expired so we used that. I had Carter write his name with marker, then go over the marker with glue, and finally pour chocolate pudding mix over it and pouring the excess off to make his scratch and sniff name. I did the writing and glue for Elise and let her pour the pudding mixture over her name. When we were done with their names I let them play in the leftover mix. I had Carter describe the mix using all of his senses and asked him to guess what it was. He said it smelled like chocolate.
    Carter writing his name with glue.
    Elise drawing in the pudding powder.
    Carter putting pudding powder to make his name scratch and sniff.
  • The kids used their senses to paint. I knew I wanted to do a fun activity where they'd paint blindfolded but didn't want a huge mess or to waste a bunch of paint. I decided to make our own water colors using food coloring and water. Then I took a huge piece of butcher paper outside and planned to tape it to the wall but Carter wanted me to tape it to the ground instead so I did. Carter painted half the paper blindfolded and then the other half without a blindfold. I tried blindfolding Elise but she didn't like it so I took it off. She ended up painting for a little bit and then just dumping her water colors into other containers until she had all her colors mixed into one container of brown paint.
    Carter painting while blindfolded.
    The kids painting.
    Elise mixing her paint colors.
Special Snack:
  • We had some vanilla pudding mix that wasn't expired. I poured the mix out and had the kids describe it using all their senses. Then I asked them to compare and contrast it to the chocolate pudding. I asked them how the mixtures were the same and how they were different. Carter guessed that the mixture was vanilla flavored. Then we made the pudding and they got to eat it. First we ate some that had just cooled a little bit and then we ate some I had cooled in the fridge. I asked them how it was different and Elise said one was hot and one was cold. Carter loved using his sense of touch to investigate the pudding. We also compared the powder to the pudding and discussed how it was different once we added the milk.
Make Believe:
  • I had planned to pretend to be in different environments. We would walk around pretending we were on the beach or in the jungle or wherever we chose. Then we would describe what we saw, heard, smelled, tasted, and felt. One morning Carter was having a blast playing with his reusable sticker set and I noticed one set was different habitats with animals to put on them. So when he finished one we would pretend we were in the picture and would use our senses to describe it as well as pretend we were doing something we would do there. When we got to the ocean one Carter wanted to pretend to be a whale so we also listened to the sounds whales make and then we pretended to swim around like whales.
  • We listened to a Kidboomers song about senses on Youtube. Both the kids enjoyed it and I had Elise point to her body part as it discussed body parts in the song.
  • We also listened to Mr. R's Five Senses song on Youtube. It was pretty simple but the kids loved it, especially Elise. She loved yelling out the body parts along with the song.
  • Carter played an ABCya! senses game here. I liked that it had a short little video before the game to review the senses.
    Listening to the explanation before playing the game.
  • He also played a Sid the Science Kid senses game here. It was pretty easy for him but he still enjoyed it.
    Pointing out something that would smell bad.
 Field Trip/Interactive Experience:
  • I planned to take the kids to a special event at the Botanic Garden they were putting on for International Mud Day with a pit of mud to play in, tons of toys for digging and making mud pies or muffins, and an area to paint with mud. I knew it would be the perfect opportunity to discuss our senses, pointing out the different ways we experienced the mud. Plus it would tie back in what we learned in our last theme about under the ground. While we were there I was asking Carter to describe the mud using his different senses and looked over to see a sign they had up all about the senses, it was perfect! The kids had a blast and Carter enjoyed describing the mud as he played.
    Elise just getting started in the mud!
    Carter playing over by the sign they had up.
  • We read a book about how sharks have a 6th electomagnetic sense that we don't have and Carter thought that was so cool. I made sure we hit up the aquarium during our learning theme so we could visit the shark area and learn more about their 6th sense. Carter has always loved pushing the button for the areas on the shark's head to light up where they can detect using this sense. He thought it was even cooler after having discussed our senses a bit more.
  • One of my favorite activities was when we went on a senses walk. Before we left I told the kids I really wanted them to be scientists and use all their senses to observe the world around them on their walk. I had Carter review all the senses for Elise before we left. As we walked Carter would stop to add to his book and Elise would tell me things she heard and saw to add to her page about senses. It was a lot of fun.
  • Too Pickley by Jean Reidy
  • Five for a Little One by Chris Raschka
  • The Five Senses by Julie Murray
  • Tasting by Kimberly Jane Pryor
  • Hearing by Kimberly Jane Pryor
  • Seeing by Kimberly Jane Pryor
  • Smelling by Kimberly Jane Pryor
  • I Can Touch by Julie Murray
  • I Can Hear by Julie Murray
  • I Can See by Julie Murray
  • I Can Smell by Julie Murray
  • I Can Taste by Julie Murray
  • Curious George Discovers the Senses by Adah Nuchi
  • My Five Senses by Aliki
  • Sharks Have Six Senses by John F. Waters
  • Me and My Senses by Joan Sweeney
  • David Smells! by David Shannon
  • I Hear a Pickle by Rachel Isadora
  • The Bear Went Over the Mountain by Iza Trapani
  • I Feel a Foot by Maranke Rinck
  • The Penguin and the Pea by Janet Perlman
  • Cold, Crunchy, Colorful:Using Our Senses by Janet Brocket
  • The Magic School Bus Explores the Senses by Joanna Cole
  • Big Smelly Bear by Britta Teckentrup
  • Horton Hears a Who by Dr. Seuss
  • Animal Taste by Kristen Hall