Sunday, April 28, 2013

Earth Day, Every Day! Learning About Caring For Our Planet!

Enjoy Nature--plant a garden!

  We 've started a little garden behind our classroom. This week we've worked hard to make sure it is watered properly and even planted a new plant someone gave us. 

We have a little blue skink that lives in our garden! I think it may be the same one from last year. He is getting a little bolder and sticking around a little longer so we can get a better look at him!

Enjoy Nature--Climb a tree!

We've talked and read a lot about how trees are vital to our environment. We've also talked about ways to enjoy trees around us. This is a small tree on our playground that we enjoy hanging out in!

Enjoy Nature--Ride Your Bike
We've talked about how riding bikes or walking instead of driving can help our environment. All that talk of bikes prompted a little bike race!

Make art using recycled materials
 Instead of giving my students a precise craft to replicate, often I give them some materials and a few instructions and let them explore their creativity. For this project, I gave the kids the box of recycled art materials and asked them to create something. They were allowed to use any other materials available, as long as they used items from the box. I was so tickled to see the creativity some of them expressed!

This is a little tree. There are actually layers I couldn't capture with the camera that has sequins as owls in the nest on the tree!

A few of them were exploring with the tape and started making disguises! These few pieces of tape provided TONS of giggles!!!

The 3 year old class made these adorable robots using cereal boxes and toilet paper tubes!

Here's another activity the 3's did for Earth week.

Earth Collage
We pulled some blue, green and white paper from the recycled art box and tore it into small pieces, then used them to make a collage of the Earth. (I do this every year and each year they turn out a little different!) 

Trash Collage
This trash collage was made in the 3 year old class. They simply glued some trash onto a garbage can shape.

Painting the Earth
A couple of the friends painted the earth on paper.

Twist Art Earths
I saw this on Teach Preschool (Earth Day Blog Hop:Give The World A Little Spinand HAD to try it! It was perfect and foolproof, as well as a lot of fun! All the designs were beautiful and unique!

The Water Pollution Experiment
I asked my students to bring in some relatively "clean" garbage the day before. I took a large clear plastic container and asked the kids to find plastic animals around the classroom that might live in ponds or oceans. After we gave all the animals a "home", I make up a little scenario of how each piece of trash might find its way into the water and they take turns "polluting" the water. "As Hannah was walking, she dropped her wrapper and it fell. The wind blew it into the water." By the time each child has had the chance to "accidentally" drop one piece of litter, the container is pretty full. We talk about how the animals are crowded and have to navigate around the trash. The next day, the water has turned color and any dirt particles clinging to the garbage have made the water murky. We go back to the container and take out the trash and talk about how dirty the water is, even with the trash removed. This really helps the kids envision "pollution" in a concrete way!

 The afterschoolers have a new art craze this week. they've been making hair bows from colored duck tape! It only takes a little bit, so it's perfect for that last little bit of tape at the end of a roll! We LOVE DuckTape! They also have several crafts on their site.

This is my BIG "little illumination"! We've had a terrible time with glue bottles this year. Some years, the groups doesn't have any trouble opening and closing the glue bottles, but this year, our glue is always open and clogged. My solution was to use refillable condiment bottles, but the ones we ended up getting had removable tops that were tiny and soon lost. More clogged glue. As I was brushing my teeth, I had an epiphany. I had a little stash of toothpaste bottles that I was saving that would be perfect! The tops flip open and shut, they are small and easily squeezed by small hands. 

Reading About Recycling
Of course, we've read lots of good books about recycling and taking care of our planet. Here are a few of our favorite books about recycling:

Thanks for visiting! Share your thoughts and leave a little "comment love" ~ I love hearing from you!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

How Does Your Garden Grow? Learning About Plants in Pre-K

I'm thrilled to be a part of the 2013 Gardening With Kids Linky, co-hosted by Erin Dean from The Usual Mayhem and Amy Ahola from Child Central Station. Be sure to check out the links at the bottom of this post for tons of more garden and planting ideas! 

Already this year, we've learned about the life cycle of an apple tree, vegetables and farming and pumpkin life cycles, but Spring is the time where we "dig in" to learning about planting a garden. We've used the plants and flowers theme all across the curriculum and in our learning centers.

Planting Seeds to make a Window Garden
One of our small group activities was to wet a cotton ball and put it and a lima bean in a baggie to hang in our window. We will be able to watch the seed begin to sprout.

Making Flowers in Art Center
I got out the collage box to make a couple of flowers for our Spring bulletin board. Watching me create with the materials inspired some of the children to make flowers of their own. 

I also made a coffee filter flower, using coffee filters, markers and some leftover painted paper and before I knew it, we had a garden of those flowers, as well.

A few of the children drew their favorite vegetables one day.

Here's the Spring bulletin board so far. The carrots were leftover from another project, so we "planted" them in the dirt, and added the vegetables the children drew. We tucked the flowers in the grass and added the butterflies that some of the kids made while exploring with the coffee filters. We'll add to it as the children make more flowers or bugs. 

Plant Experiments
As often happens, things don't always turn out as planned. I wanted to show the children how a plant "drinks" water. We were to put cut flowers in water colored with dye and watch the dye as it traveled to the parts of the plant. When I shopped for cut flowers, I couldn't find carnations like I've used in the past. I picked what I thought was a suitable substitute. Things started off good, but a week later when Spring Break began, our flower petals still had not changed color. I did go back to the school mid week to try to take some pictures to show the children when they returned, but I was told that most of the petals had fallen off and thrown away. The few remaining flowers were STILL white! Oh well, we'll try again another time! As is often my luck, sometimes things just don't go as planned. In the photos below, you can see a bit of the color seeping into the flowers, but just in small areas.

We've also cut an avocado open and observed the giant seed. We put toothpicks in to prop it over a cup, so that half the seed is in water and half is out. We'll be watching this begin to grow roots and sprout into a tree.

Getting our Garden Ready For Planting
We've started getting our garden ready now that the weather is starting to warm up. We'll plant seeds this week and see the first flowers just before summer break. 

When school started, the garden was lush and filled with blooms from the previous Spring planting. The children have been excited to make a garden like the one last year's class planted.  

Creating a Flower Shop in Dramatic Play
Before we left for break, the children suggested opening a floral shop in dramatic play. I had planned on doing that anyway, but it is so much more meaningful to the kids when it is their own idea. On Monday when we return, I'll have them help me create the learning center. Here are some of the pictures from previous years of how I've transformed the dramatic play center into a floral shop.

Music and Movement
We've been singing and dancing to "plant" songs. One of the songs we've sung is a song I've picked up somewhere along the way. I think Dr. Jean does a version, too. We touch our head for "flowers", our torso for "stem", hands out flat for "leaves" and feet and legs for "roots". We like to start slow and get faster and faster! 

Flower, Stem, Leaves and Roots
 (tune: Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes)
Flower, stem, leaves and roots, leaves and roots. 
Flower, stem, leaves and roots, leaves and roots. 
All it needs is sun and showers 
And the seed grows into a flower!

We love Deborah Stewart's (from Teach Preschool) song, "The Seed Begins In The Garden". The children curl up like seeds and start to grow and grow as the song builds until they are standing tall! 

Here's a little video of the song. The entire cd, "Simple Songs for Preschoolers" is great! Pop on over to Teach Preschool if you'd like to order a copy!

Reading about Planting and Gardens
As I mentioned in an earlier post, the publishers at Scholastic sent over complimentary copies of "Clifford's My Big World" classroom magazines. In our small groups, we read the issue on plants and discussed plant life cycles. If you'd like to hear more about these magazines, you'll find information in my post, "Singing In The Rain: Learning About Weather in Pre-K".

We've also read some really great books about plants! Here are some of our favorites:

Thanks for visiting!  Be sure to leave a little "comment love"---I'd love for you to share your thoughts! 

Check out the little illuminations facebook fan page and see what we're sharing today!

Don't forget to scroll down and check out the great links below! If you've got a post about gardening, we'd love for you to add it to the linky below! 

The Usual Mayhem Child Central Station

Thanks for stopping by!

Popular Posts