Saturday, November 22, 2014

Snow Paint

Our last activity for our Weather Theme was Snow Painting. Now, while there is snow in some part of the country right now, here in Southern New Mexico it's pretty scarce. So we were forced to come up with our own snow to play in, and this is what we found.

We got out some blue paper, whipped up a batch of snow paint, and had some fun painting our snow pictures. These are now on display in Erik's room. Once dry, the paint does have a tendency to crack if the papers get bent, but they do have a really neat texture.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Make it Rain!

So I have a confession. Or two. This activity actually happened on accident, it wasn't really something I had planned. Also, these pictures are from the first time we did this, almost a year ago now. Somehow I never got a post up about this, so you finally get to see it. 
One day it was really cold in our apartment and Erik was bored and driving me nuts. So I stuck him in a nice warm bubble bath and gave him some of my kitchen stuff to play with. It turned out that the colander plus the bubbles were the perfect way to teach about what happens when it rains. Every time Erik scooped up the bubbly water in his colander it made a rainstorm, which he was thrilled about! He had been interested in the rain we'd had recently and I'd tried to explain where it came from, but I just don't think he was getting it. 
 As he sat in the bath that day we talked about how the clouds in the sky fill up with water until they are so dark and heavy they can't hold it anymore. When he would submerge his colander the bubbles would float up on the water and look puffier. Also something about the lighting made the bubbles look grayish when there was water underneath them, so they even looked like dark(ish) rain clouds. Then, when his colander full of bubbles had all the water it could hold, he would lift it up and watch his "clouds" deflate and whiten as the "rain" poured out the bottom. It was SO perfect!
This was such a simple and fun way to learn about the science of rain!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Weather Reading

As I am planning all my different themes, I am trying really hard to find books to go with them. Literature is an excellent way to introduce new concepts, new vocabulary, and to explore things you otherwise couldn't. Erik is much more likely to understand what I'm telling him about if there's interesting pictures and an entertaining story line to follow.
The town we live in has a pretty impressive library (for a town of this size, anyways), mostly because they will bend over backwards to help you out. If they don't have the book you want (and let's face it, they're tiny so there's a good chance they don't) they will borrow it from another library for you. This means that as long as I plan far enough in advance I can get just about anything I want. Unfortunately for planning our Weather Theme, I didn't want to wait for books to come in, so I just crossed my fingers that they would have one or two books that would work and went for it. I ended up finding five books there that had something to do with weather (actually there were a few more, but they were too advanced for Erik) which was way better than I'd hoped and we've been enjoying reading them ever since. 
In addition to the books we've been reading, I also found a free app for our Ipad that allows children to explore the weather. Erik loves to play with it and it's one that we'll probably keep around for a while. 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Make Your Own Windsock

As part of our Weather Theme, I thought it would be fun to make a windsock to aid Erik in his observations of the weather at our home. I found lots of fun ideas online, but this is the one we decided to go with. Why? Because I already had everything I needed right here at home, so what could be more perfect? I had hoped Erik would be more involved in making the windsock, but he just wasn't all that interested. He did really enjoy it once it was hanging outside though, so I count it as a success. 

First, we assembled all the materials we would need:
Plastic bags, scissors, tape, string, an empty plastic container
Second, you cut off a section of your empty container so that you have a plastic ring, I think ours was probably about 1 1/2 - 2 inches tall. You can dispose of the rest of the container as you see fit, we only need the top ring.
 Third, lay out your plastic bags so they are nice and flat, then cut them up into strips. I think mine were about an inch wide. I think we used three bags, but it all depends on the size of the container you used in step 2. I had hoped to have Erik help with this part of this since he LOVES to cut, but the bags were a bit difficult to cut and he got frustrated.
 Fourth, fold each strip of plastic bag in half and thread the fold through your ring, then pull the ends through the fold. If that doesn't make sense (and since I didn't think to take pictures of that part) you can go back to the original site and they have better pictures. Add strips of plastic on until you have covered all of the plastic ring.
 Fifth, attach three pieces of sting to the ring, spaced somewhat evenly around. Tie these into a knot about a foot away from the ring to create a yoke for the windsock to hang on.
 Sixth, tie your windsock to a tree or fence post or something outside where it's easily visible, and enjoy watching your child observe the world around them.
Of course, we didn't have any wind for about two days after we made this, but Erik was SO excited when he finally got to see his windsock flying in the breeze. We've got this right outside our front window, so we can watch it all day to see when the wind picks up.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Weather Counting Wall

This activity may be one of my favorite that we did during our Weather Theme. It took a bit of work to get it ready to go, but it got a lot of use and is something that I can save (most of it anyways) for future use. I took the idea of the Sticky Wall that we've done several times in the past, combined with this idea from Pinterest, and adapted it to fit our theme. 

I cut out LOTS of little shapes out of foam sheets. I wanted to practice one-to-one correspondence (meaning a child has the ability to match ONE object to ONE corresponding number or object), so I cut out the shapes in sets:
1 Rainbow
2 Windsocks
3 Lightning Bolts
4 Windmills
5 Snowflakes
6 Puddles
7 Suns
8 Clouds
9 Hailstones
10 Raindrops

 Next, and this is the tricky part, I took a sheet of contact paper and on the back (NOT sticky) side I wrote the number of objects in each set, a word or two to label the objects in the set, and then traced the outline of the corresponding foam pieces. Why is that so tricky? Well, you have to do it all backwards as it will be reversed when you turn it sticky side out to hang on the wall. You may notice in these pictures that I made a spelling error, and chose not to redo the entire thing just to fix a word that Erik can't read yet anyways. It's really hard to spell correctly when you're doing it all backwards!
 Next, you remove the backing off of the contact paper and hang it sticky side out on a wall or window low enough to be comfortable for your little one. Give them the foam pieces, and turn them loose! The first few times I sat by Erik and we sorted and counted together, but after that I let him do it on his own. He would choose to come back to this (with no prompting form me) at least once a day for the two weeks we had this hung up, which means it was something he really enjoyed (I'll be honest, that kinda surprised me, I thought I'd have to encourage him to spend time counting the shapes, but he loved it!)
The stickiness of the contact paper eventually wore off (or got covered by dirt and grime, much more likely) so that part of this activity just went in the trash when we were done with it, but I'll save the counters for future use.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Observing and Naming Types of Weather

One of the first things we did as part of our Weather Theme was to talk about some different kinds of weather. I pulled out some paper and crayons and we drew some pictures of different kinds of weather then I labelled each one.

 I tried to encourage Erik to help me draw/color the things we were talking about, but he has never had much interest in coloring. I keep trying, but it's just not his favorite thing. He did help me trace his hand for a tree, and then drew an ice cream cone (which is actually the first thing he's ever drawn that was recognizable, so that was kinda fun). He was way more interested in the letters I was using to label things with, which shows he's gaining an awareness of print (meaning he recognizes that those squiggly lines I make when I write have a real world meaning; an important pre-reading skill), and he insisted that his ice cream cone get it's own label.
When we were done drawing our pictures, we hung them on the wall next to our front window, so that we can look outside and compare what is going on outside with the types of weather we've learned about. It was fun to see that after a few days of making a point of observing the weather with him, he started to do it on his own. He would come find me and tell me it was windy, or cloudy, or whatever. Observing the world around us is a key skill for future science learning. 

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Weather Week

I have been trying to be more intentional with Erik's activities lately, and I thought it would be fun to try to create themes for each week (or two weeks, depending on the theme and what's going on at the time). For our first weekly theme, I chose to do Weather, since Erik has been incredibly interested in the weather lately. It started with a fascination about rain a few months ago, and hasn't gone away since.
I have been using a book my Mother-in-Law loaned to me to help me make sure that I am getting a good balance of activities covering several skills, How To Be Your Child's First Teacher. So far it has been really fun and very useful to look through. I didn't get all the different subjects covered in this unit, but we had enough to keep us busy and we had lots of fun learning about the weather.



Here's our lesson plan for this theme, and as I get the individual posts for each activity up I'll add in links in this post.

Language Arts:
     *Read weather related books from the library
     *Label pictures of different types of weather
Math:
     *Weather Counting Wall
Creative Arts:
     *Draw pictures of different types of weather
     *Snow Painting
Science:
     *Make a Windsock
     *Make daily weather observations
     *Make it Rain