Friday, November 17, 2017

Weekly Learning Theme: Nocturnal Animals

I thought a theme on nocturnal animals would be a lot of fun and could piggy back off our theme on Halloween. I used some of the same materials and just changed up the sensory bin a little bit. We actually did this theme before Halloween but I was way behind on learning theme posts and figured it would be better to get the Halloween theme done closer to Halloween so I did it before writing up this one. Doing this learning theme before Halloween was a way for me to pull out some of the fun Halloween stuff I was excited about without actually getting out all the Halloween things. It worked out great. Carter had a lot of fun with this theme and we'll say Elise did too, but who really knows. She only half pays attention most of the time. Carter was obsessed with wanting to go outside when it was dark so he could see the nocturnal animals out. It probably didn't help that I told him when I run early in the morning and it's still dark I see owls, rabbits, and even a coyote once while running! Then he really wanted to go see some for himself!

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:

Writing Skills:
  • holds a pencil with 2 fingers and a thumb grasp.
  • draws a circle, plus sign, and square.
  • uses scissors to cut a 4 inch line. 
  • uses pictures to write a story.
  • writes name.
Reading Skills:
  • blends sounds to say word.
  • chunks words into syllables.
  • hears and identifies rhyming words.
  • recognizes and names uppercase and lowercase letters.
  • isolates and identifies beginning and ending sounds in spoken words.
 Math Skills:
  • counts to 20.
  • counts with one to one correspondence.
  • represents a number of objects with a written numeral (0-10).
  • compares objects in sets with more, less, or equal to.
  • creates and extends patterns.
  • identifies shapes and describes attributes. 
  • understands that addition means adding to.
  • understands that subtraction means taking from.                   
 Experiences Elise was exposed to during our theme this week are highlighted below:
  1. Continue to improve fine motor skills and drawing (specifically I'm looking for her to be able to copy a circle and a square as well as eventually draw a person with 2-4 body parts).
  2. Understand same and different.
  3. Accurately tell stories as well as retell the story from a book. 
  4. Use age appropriate scissors. 
  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 such as size, color, hard, soft).
  7. Count and understand what the numbers mean.
  • I wrote out Nocturnal Animals on a sentence strip and we did the typical naming of the letters and practicing blending the segments I said to him to make a word.
  • I put together a sensory bin with black beans for the base since the night sky is dark. Then I threw in a few star beads to emphasize nighttime. I added some different nocturnal animals such as owls and bats for the kids to play with. As Carter played we'd do things like count to see how many bats there were and how many owls there were.
  • I found some nocturnal animal cards here. I cut them apart so the picture of the animal and it's name were on separate pieces. Then I had Carter match the animal up to its name by using the beginning sound of the animal's name to help him. Then I helped him read the different names by telling him the sounds and having him blend them together. He was able to segment and blend bat and cat on his own. I just did about 6 animal cards at a time so he wouldn't get overwhelmed and he did a great job! When he was finished matching the animals up with their names we put the animals in alphabetical order. Carter enjoyed practicing with the animal names so much that he wanted to write them down when we were done and did that on his own.

  • We used bat toys and foam bats to make patterns. I've noticed Carter has gotten so used to making color patterns that he only thinks of color patterns. I want to broaden his understanding of patterns to anything that repeats over and over so I've started making sure we do patterns based on other characteristics. He enjoyed making patterns based on size but still wanted it to be a color pattern as well.
  • I came across black sand while wandering through Dollar Tree and got so excited to use it for this learning theme. I asked Carter why he thought we were using black sand and he said because the night sky is black. I had him write his name and then practice some shapes. I also had him listen to me say sounds and then write them to make a word. He wanted to show off and wrote bat and cat without any help. Then I asked him to come up with some words that rhyme with bat. I thought he might use bat and change out the beginning sound in the sand, but he just started listing them without any help. I wrote the words he came up with down on a foam bat. When it was Elise's turn she drew a circle and then I showed her how to make a square. She attempted one and then drew some more circles. I wrote her name and told her the letters in her name as I wrote.
  • We also read a cute poem about nocturnal animals I found here. I had Carter listen and see if he could identify any rhyming words in the poem.
  • We watched a few videos of spiders creating their webs. I had Carter really pay attention to how the spider made the web and what order she went in along with what shapes she created. It was really neat to watch and see how a web is actually made. Then we did like what the spiders did to create a tape web on the table. I ran out of masking tape while creating the base of our web. It worked out great because Carter asked me how we were going to make the middle part of the web sticky like a real spider's web. We left the outline the way it was even though I didn't make all the lines we wanted since that portion of the web is made with a different kind of silk that isn't sticky. Then we made the inside of the web with double sided tape. I had the kids help me peel off the paper after we'd made the web. They used foam spiders to play on the web and we used pom poms, pretending they were insects stuck to the web. We threw the insects at the web and watched to see where they'd stick. Carter liked making his spider go over to the insects to eat them. I didn't go into too much detail about how a spider eats insects, just that it wraps it up before sucking out it's food.
  • We used some finger puppets the kids made to retell the story of Stellaluna. I pulled out a small bird's nest we have with our craft supplies to use in the telling of the story. Carter had a lot of fun retelling the story and then changing it up to his own version after that.
Playing with the finger puppets.
Elise loved the baby birdies and kept putting them in the nest.
  • I pulled random animal toys from around the house for Carter to sort based on when they are awake. He made a pile of nocturnal animals and a pile of diurnal animals. I was impressed with how quickly and easily he was able to do it! When he was done sorting I asked him which pile had the most and which had the least. He discovered they had an equal number. Then he counted to check and see how many he had in each pile.
  •  We read a Scholastic News all about bats. Carter liked looking at the picture of a bat body and finding different body parts on the bat. I had Elise compare our body parts to bat body parts and helped her describe how they were the same and how they were different. We also read a Scholastic News about night hunters and discussed how the animals were the same and how they were different.

  • I played some nocturnal animal sounds and asked the kids to identify what animal might make that sound. Carter would get so excited, he'd scream it out the minute he heard the sound rather than give Elise a chance to guess. She seemed pretty clueless on most of them anyway but was excited to guess wolf correctly. Carter got stumped on bat for a while but finally figured it out.
  • A Scholastic News about owls had a graph on the back. I asked Carter which animal there was the most of and which there was the least of. Then Carter and I read the questions about the graph and I had him answer them.
  • I had another Scholastic News about bats. On the back there was a section to compare bats to bids. We discussed how bats are similar to birds and how they are different. I told Carter bats are actually mammals and explained to him what makes them mammals.
  • One of Carter's favorite Scholastic Newses we read showed different kinds of bats. We read about them and Carter liked pointing out how they looked the same and how they looked different. We discussed the names of the bats and talked about why they might have been given that name.
  • I talked with Elise about day and night. We described day as the time when the sun is out and it is light outside. We described night as the time when the sun is no longer out and it is dark outside. I asked her when we are awake and told her that some animals are awake at night.
  • We read the book The Very Busy Spider and I had Carter and Elise both feel the raised up spider web on the pages. Then we created our own spider webs using glue on dark paper. We let them dry and then ran our fingers over them to feel the web. Elise didn't want to make one but enjoyed watching us do it.
  • I printed bat finger puppets I found here and bird finger puppets I found here so the kids could use them in retelling the story of Stellaluna. Carter and Elise each colored a bat finger puppet and they each colored a few bird puppets. They were so proud of them and Elise would actually walk around wearing her bird finger puppets like they were rings. It was pretty cute!
    Working on their finger puppets.
  • I saw an adorable fox craft here. I figured it would be a perfect craft for the kids to practice their scissor skills. I folded the paper plates down to the triangle of the head and drew lines for them to cut on. I turned Carter loose and he cut all by himself and did a great job. I held Elise's plate for her and helped guide her scissors onto the line by moving the plate as she cut. She really already does such a great job with scissors. I think it probably helped that she's seen Carter cutting so she already knew how to hold scissors. She's never tried to hold them with two hands like most kids do when first experiencing scissors. Ripping apart the tissue paper to decorate the fox's face was more practice with the fine motor skills needing for cutting as well. I gave the kids scraps from the paper plate with triangles drawn on so they could make ears. Elise didn't want any help so she cut her ears down to mostly nothing.

    Carter's finished fox.
  • I always love paper plate crafts because they are cheap and easy and I have a ton of paper plates still leftover from my classroom. So when I saw this cute porcupine craft I knew I could change it up by using a paper plate. I gave Carter a paper plate with a line drawn down the middle so he could cut it in half. Then one half was his and the other was Elise's. They decorated their porcupines and then glued toothpicks to the back. I thought they'd love gluing the toothpicks and figured they'd go wild with them but they both only did a few, I was surprised!
  • Carter made an adorable owl craft at school while we were doing our learning theme on nocturnal animals. He told me they made it by using a marshmallow clipped to a clothespin as a stamper.
  • Carter  made a fun spider web craft at school where he laced yarn through holes in a paper plate and then they added a spider ring to the yarn so he could move the spider along the web. It was a really neat idea.
  • Carter also made a cute bat craft at school where they taped down a bat and then painted the paper. The paint left the bat silhouette on the paper.
  • I had some foam bats I got on sale after Halloween last year. I got them out for the kids to draw on and decorate. Carter loved that he knows how to write the word bat so he made sure to write bat on his foam bat. It was very cute!
  • We also made paper plate owl crafts. The kids each decorated two paper plates. Then they cut one of the paper plates in half to use as the wings. I asked them to draw circle eyes and a triangle beak for the owl's face. Elise decided she didn't want to draw eyes on her bat so she just left the face blank.
Special Snack:
  • I had fun pulling out my bat cookie cutter and making lots of bat shaped food for the kids. During our learning theme I cut Carter's lunch meat and cheese into a bat multiple times. Side note: Neither of my kids really eat sandwiches. They just pull the meat and cheese off the bread and eat them separately so I just skip the bread. It's really better for them that way anyway and I've taken their lead on that.
  • I saw an adorable idea for raccoon bread on Pinterest and changed it to use what we already had and to make it easier for me. We made toast and then I buttered it with some special white chocolate peanut butter my mom gave us. Then I used some dark chocolate peanut butter she'd given us to make the rings for the raccoon's eyes and the stripes on the tail. I used marshmallows for eyes. The kids loved it and asked for a second serving. I ended up just giving them each a spoonful of peanut butter because it was hard to make the raccoon toast!
Make Believe:
  • Carter and Elise always have so much fun pretending to be animals. I told them we were going to pretend to be nocturnal animals. They both picked bats and had a lot of fun flying around the house and then hanging upside down from the bed.
  • There were so many cute nocturnal animals songs on Pinterest. I found quite a few I liked and we enjoyed singing them together. We sang a cute song called Bats are Sleeping that I found here. Another one we sang was I'm a Little Raccoon to the tune of I'm a Little Teapot. Find the song here. The kids enjoyed the actions that went along with it. Flutter, Flutter Little Bat was also a hit because Carter still adores Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star. The song can be found here.
  • We played The Great Nocturnal Hat Hunt on PBS Kids here. Carter got so excited seeing the different ways he was going to be able to search for the hat and trying to guess which animal it was before the game told him. He showed Elise how to play and let her have turns. It was very sweet!
 Field Trip/Interactive Experience:
  • I used the animal cards I printed to make us a sheet for recording which nocturnal animals we saw at the zoo. Then when we went to the zoo I forgot it in the car because I was flustered from running an emergency errand that caused us to arrive way late. I just had Carter identify any nocturnal animals we saw and then when we got home he recorded which ones we'd seen by placing an x next to their picture. I actually didn't even have to remind him to look for nocturnal animals, he was so excited about our learning theme, he'd yell, "This is a nocturnal animal!" as we walked up to an exhibit. He also remembered that they feed the raccoons, river otters, and beavers during the day at the aquarium so they will come out and we can see them, otherwise they wouldn't come out since they're nocturnal. At home once he'd marked which animals we'd seen I had him sort the animal pictures based on whether we'd seen them or not. Then I asked him which pile there was more of, animals we'd seen or hadn't seen. Then we counted to see how many were in each group.
    Excited to see the river otters which he pointed out were sleeping since they're nocturnal.
Recording the nocturnal animals he saw at the zoo.
Looking to see whether there were more we saw than didn't see.

  • What the Sun Sees/What the Moon Sees by Nancy Tafuri
  • What's Special at Night by Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood
  • Moon Child by Nadia Krilanovich
  • Secret Pizza Party by Adam Rubin
  • Owlet's First Flight by Mitra Modarressi
  • Stellaluna by Janell Cannon
  • Who's Next Door by Mayuko Kishira and Jun Takabatake
  • Hoot and Peep by Lita Judge
  • Hooray for Today! by Brian Won
  • Hello, Day! by Anita Lobel
  • Owl Bat Bat Owl by Marie-Louise Fitzpatrick
  • Sunrise, Moonrise by Betsy Thompson
  • Night Animals by Gianna Marino
  • The Night World by Mordicai Gerstein
  • Little Owl's Night by Divya Srinivasan
  • When It Is Night/When It Is Day by Jenny Tyers
  • Owl Babies by Martin Waddell
  • While the World Is Sleeping by Pamela Duncan Edwards
  • The Fox in the Dark by Alison Green
  • Night-night, Forest Friends by Annie Bach
  • The Midnight Library by Kazuno Kohara
  • Moon Forest by Patricia McCarthy
  • Amazing Animals at Night by Alix Wood
  • I See the Moon by Jacqueline Mitton
  • Whoo Goes There? by Jennifer A. Ericsson
  • One Nighttime Sea: An Ocean Counting Book by Deborah Lee Rose
  • Nighttime by Jill Esbaum
  • Daylight Starlight Wildlife by Wendell Minor
  • Forest Bright, Forest Night by Jennifer Ward
  • Nocturnal Animals by Kelli L. Hicks
  • Owl Sees Owl by Laura Godwin
  • The Very Busy Spider by Eric Carle
  • The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn    

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