Monday, July 30, 2018

Weekly Learning Theme: Prairie

We completed this learning theme way back in the spring and I never finished the post on it. We've completed one learning theme since then and have spent the summer with less formal learning. I still have the kids' learning objectives in mind and practice those skills. Carter has had a weekly sight word to practice and we've had a lot of fun playing school. I can write a post more on ways we practice with sight words at home. From now on I see us continuing with less formal learning at home. Carter will be in full time school, Elise will be starting school, and I'll be working 3 days a week.

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.
  • At the beginning of the week I showed Carter the word prairie on a sentence strip. I had him tell me the letter names and then the sounds. Then he counted to see how many letters were in the word.
  • I found some prairie finger puppets here. The kids colored them. Carter cut his out and I helped Elise with hers. Then we played with them, making up games and having the animals talk to each other. Carter liked making up stories and acting them out.

  • We researched prairie animals and plants by reading nonfiction books. I gave each of the kids a clip board with a piece of paper. They kept track of different animals and plants from the books by recording them on their paper. It was good practice for Elise to look at the plant or animal and decide which column to put them in. I had Carter determine which column was animal and which was plant by identifying the beginning sounds in the words. When we were finished Carter counted to see how many he had in each column.

    Carter's finished recording sheet.
  • After researching life in the prairie we turned our hallway into a prairie. We measured out 6.5 feet for the height of bluestem prairie grass. It was good practice for Carter to place his finger at the end of the ruler and then lay the ruler end to end to get a correct measurement with no gaps between the rulers. Both kids enjoyed cutting up the piece of paper to make the blades of the grass to make the grass.

  • I made different prairie animals out of tangrams for Carter to practice making. There was a coyote and a rabbit. We used the time to talk about shapes and their attributes.
  • We used prairie animal cards to play with. Carter sorted the animal cards and told me how he sorted them. We sorted based on herbivore and carnivore the first time which I thought was smart! Then I had him sort the animals based on their beginning sounds. We also used the cards to make patterns. I had two sets of cards so Elise played with them, matching like cards together. Then we all played memory together.

  • Carter's sight word for the week was in so he made a book with his sight word in it. We used prairie animal pictures for his story. He glued a picture to each page and then I wrote "The ____ lives" and Carter would write "in". I'd finish out the sentence by writing, "the prairie." He loved reading the book since he knew the words and because he'd written part of it on his own. 

  • I made pattern block templates of an owl and a bison for the kids to make. Carter counted the number of each shape he had in his picture and we talked about how many sides each shape had. Elise and I talked about colors and shape names.
  • With Elise I talked about what the prairie would look like in the morning, noon, and night. We discussed which animals you might see out and what you'd see in the sky
  • One day when we were playing school we did a little minilesson about habitats. I wrote the definition of a habitat on paper. Then the kids drew an example of a plant and an example of an animal on the paper. Carter wanted to write the name of the plant and animal he drew so I helped him sound the words out to spell them.

  • I had Carter practice blending sounds and putting them together to make animal names. We did grass, bison, rabbit, hog, deer, and owl.
  • Carter used the prairie animal finger puppets to point out each sight word on the word wall as he read it. It was a fun way to practice his sight words.
  • I used parts of different prairie animals' names to practice coming up with rhyming words. Carter thought it was fun because I had him do it on a dry erase board and he got to use a dry erase marker.
  • Elise practiced with same and different by pointing out ways prairie animals were alike and how they were different. I'd place 2 pictures down and ask her to tell me what was the same about them and then what was different about them.
  • Carter practiced chunking sounds by chunking animal names into different parts. We practiced with bison and rabbit. I also had him say bison without the son and rabbit without the ra. It was fun to see what a good, little reader he is becoming!
  • Carter saw a picture in one of our prairie books and wanted to paint it. He ended up painting a prairie picture.
  • I found some prairie coloring pages for the kids. Elise enjoyed coloring hers and wanted to display it in the hallway when we turned the hallway into a prairie.
Elise coloring a page with different prairie animals on it.
Elise working on her coloring page of a bison from Prairie.
  • Carter and Elise drew plants and animals to decorate the hallway so we could turn the hallway into a prairie. My favorite was Carter's prairie dog village.
    Carter drawing a sunflower for the hallway.

  • We listened to and sang, "Home on the Range" during our learning theme.

  • Carter built a tallgrass prairie and then a shortgrass prairie with a fun game here. He liked guessing which plants and animals would live in the different kinds of prairies and counting to see if he'd chosen 4 on each section. It was really informational. I sat with him and read sections to him so he could learn as he played.
 Field Trip/Interactive Experience:

  • We visited Woolaroc where we got to see bison. You stay in the car and get to watch them roam around on the premises. They also had a mountain man camp going so we got to see how fur traders would have lived when they first lived in our country.

Standing by a covered wagon at the mountain man camp.
We were so close to the bison!
Baby bison!

  • When we visited Keystone State Park for a hike we found some tall grass and stood by it to compare it to the prairie grasses we learned about. While we hiked we looked for prairie animals and plants.
  • In the museum there was a stuffed bison.
    We also visited Osage Hills State Park and pointed out different plants and animals you might also see in a prairie.

  • Bison by Melissa Gish
  • Bison Babies! by Donald M. Jones
  • There's a Bison Bouncing on the Bed! by Paul Bright
  • Antelope, Bison, Cougar: A National Park Wildlife Alphabet Book by Steven P. Medley
  • Prairies by Melissa S. Cole
  • Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder (audiobook)
  • The Prince of the Prairie by Betty Selakovich Casey
  • The Tallgrass Prairie Alphabet by Claudia McGehee
  • Prairie Dog Song by Susan L. Roth
  • A Little Prairie House by Laura Ingalls Wilder
  • Prairie Food Chains by Rebecca Pettiford
  • Prairie Dogs by Patricia J. Murphy
  • Prairie Chicken Little by Jackie Hopkins
  • If You're Not From the Prairie by Dave Bouchard
  • Prairie Train by Marsha Wilson Chall
  • Prairie Summer by Nancy Hundal
  • Prairie Town by Bonnie Geisert
  • Tallgrass Prairie Wildflowers by Dougals M. Ladd
  • Out on the Prairie by Donna M. Bateman
  • What Lives in the Prairie? by Oona Gaarder-Juntti
  • Who Needs a Prairie? by Karen Patkau
  • Prairie Habitats by Mirella S. Miller
  • Plants in Different Habitats by Bobbie Kalman


  1. Very good. I also liked Carter thinking his Uncie J would be taller than the prairie grass.