Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Learning About Letters & More

Nature's Puppet Show
Here's one way we use our indoor props to learn about nature. I usually start by presenting a puppet show with a new theme like Habitats, The Food Chain, or Mammals. Then the children use my language, ideas and themes to recreate their own show. You can see the beginning of The Food Chain puppet show above.

Nature Mirror Painting
We also use water colors and tempura paints to create landscapes and other natural images. Children love to paint animal tracks and trees like shown above.

Natural School Sitings

You wouldn't believe the variety of wildlife we've seen in our backyard! Today we went out to greet our friends and found coyote tracks and scat. We decided to record all of our sitings in a Nature Journal. We're beginning to collect photos and observations (stories) about our discoveries to paste into a 3 ring binder. This is something you can do at home too. Some people only record their findings from their backyard or you can create a notebook that is filled with wildlife from all of your travels.
Here is the beginning of our wildlife list:
Great blue herons

Bald Eagle
Pilated woodpeckers
Tufted Titmouse
Mourning Doves
Rose-breasted Nuthatch

Literacy & Math

Throughout our morning, academics are woven into our activities and centers. Here are some concepts we've focused on this month.


Each morning when we come inside we hang up our belongings, wash our hands and begin our Morning Meeting. This includes singing, movement, greetings and hand songs. Then we talk about our names. Each child has a name stick and we discuss beginning letters and most recently syllables. Your child has been saying names and clapping the parts. We talk about how many parts, beats or syllables are in each of our names. You can extend this activity into your home. Discuss how many syllables each of your family members have. Who has the most? Who has the same? Who has the least?

Identifying Letters

This week you may have found an alphabet linking chart and a game board in your child's backpack. We played a game called Letter Lotto. In each box on the game board there is a handwritten lowercase letter. In a basket, I put 26 uppercase letters. I used magnetic letters, but you could make letter cards and cut them up to use. To play, the child pulled out one letter from the basket, said the letter name (with help if needed-no struggling) and then looked to see if they had the matching lowercase letter on their game board. If they had a match, they placed the magnetic letter in the box. If they didn't, they placed it back in the basket. Then the next person takes a turn. The first person who filled all the boxes on the Lotto Card wins the game.

Before we begin playing I always discuss what to do if you win the game. "What do you look like? What do you say to the other players?" Then we do the same if you don't win the game. "What do you look like? What do you say?" I always give some funny examples and the children tell me if we should act like that or not. 

Understand the Principle

Children need to distinguish the features that make one letter different from other letters and an uppercase letter different from its lowercase form. Learning the shapes and their labels helps them talk about letters and connect letters and sounds. Here is some language I used to explain this principle to the children.
  • "A letter has two forms."
  • "One form is uppercase (or capital) and the other is lowercase (or small)."
  • Some lowercase forms look like the uppercase forms and some look different."


Children count the calendar each day at school. This consistent practice will help in recognizing number order and find patterns beyond 10. Counting up to 10 is wonderful! Counting up to 20 is fantastic and counting up to 30 is just incredible!! Keep practicing my friends!

Monday, March 21, 2016

Who Lives In A Tree?

"We're mixing oil...for the roads...for electricity...."
It's March 9th and 70 degrees! This morning we are surrounded by birds including cardinals, crows, a Pileated woodpecker, a tufted titmouse, chickadees and robins. We spent almost an hour outside in the sand before coming in for morning meeting. We also had the chance to venture down our old Stowe Road to check the river. It was flowing pretty good. We used our 5 senses while out on our walk. Well, actually we didn't taste anything so I guess that makes 4 senses. Here are the children's observations:
I CAN...
   Smell: Dirt & Spring
   Hear: Water, waves, birds, wind, ice cracking
   See: Mud, ice, trees, water, streams & a river, waterfall
   Touch: Mud, cold and warm rocks, ice

Brave explorers venturing out into their woods

This is a trolley! Ding, Ding!

Explorers of all ages observing and recording evidence of wildlife in a tree


During this lesson children develop an awareness of trees and some of the animals that call them home.

Quick Facts

A tree is "home" for many different animals. Some, such as beetles, ants, worms, and spiders, may spend their entire lives in and around a single tree. Others, such as squirrels, raccoons, opossums, or frogs may use one tree as a home base shelter, but venture afield for water, food or mates. Still others, like birds, bees or bats, may use a given tree only for a resting spot, temporary shelter, or to eat a meal. 

Trees provide food and shelter in many ways. Various animals may eat a tree's fruits, seeds, buds, flowers, leaves, bark and even its roots. Even with all the animal activity in and around a tree, it is quite possible to miss seeing any animals on a particular visit to the tree. May times, the animals are quite small and may go unnoticed. Other times, the animals may be hiding or out looking for food somewhere else. If they are not visible, look for clues that animals live in or near the tree. Chewed leaves, empty nests, or abandoned spider webs are all signs that animals live there.

Home Connections

We're learning about some of the animals that live in trees. Birds and squirrels are common and easily seen. Others may need a closer look. Explore the trees in your backyard and neighborhood with your child.

Backyard Tree Count: 

Go on a walk outside with your child. Together count how many trees there are in your backyard or in a certain area. Look closely at them as your count. How many different kinds of trees can you find? Place a leaf under a paper and rub a pencil on the page over the leaf. What do you see? We've talked a lot about how to identify maple, oak, white birch, pine and hemlock trees. See what your child may offer for discussion around these species.

Tree Spies:

Take your child to a natural area that has trees. Do you see any squirrels living there? What about birds or other animals? What are you doing? Can you find any small animals, like ants, moths, or spiders living in or around the trees? Help your child record what you find in his or her Nature Notebook or a paper to hang up to show off!

Learning About Habitats with Habitat Bingo

Responsible: The girls offered to fold the school towels...both days!

Making friends with shapes: "Do you want to play with this cone?"

The Hundred Board & Color Mixing
Painting Trees