Monday, November 10, 2014

"Giving Thanks" Turkey Box

I found this fabulous little "Give Thanks" box idea from i heart crafty things and decided to give it a try with my son.




First, I collected all the materials:

  1. Tissue box 
  2. Acrylic paint in orange, red, and yellow
  3. Glow-in-the-dark paint in orange and yellow
  4. Paintbrushes
  5. Three sheets of white card stock
  6. One sheet of brown card stock (or you can get one more piece of white card stock and paint it brown)
  7. Construction paper scraps in red and yellow
  8. Google eyes
  9. Feathers for adornment

Then, we sat down to create our very own "I am thankful for.." turkey box!

In the original project, the tissue box was painted brown, but I happened to like the colors on my tissue box, so I left it as is. Instead, we skipped straight to painting the three sheets of card stock: one yellow, one orange, and one red. After painting the base colors, my son and I had some fun splatter painting the alternating colors. For example, on the red painted sheet, we splatter-painted orange and yellow. To put my own little twist on this project, I also splatter-painted glow-in-the-dark paint (I haven't yet tested the glow-in-the-dark effect, but will post a picture once I do :-):





From each sheet, I cut three "feathers". To help them lay straight, I placed all nine "feathers" underneath a heavy book while we worked on the rest of the project. I cut a peanut shape from the brown card stock for the turkey head and body. My son cut out a folded triangle, that he observed made a diamond when opened, for the beak, while I cut out another peanut shape from the red construction paper scrap. My son picked out colored googly eyes, and then we glued everything on.




Once the face features dried, we glued our turkey onto the tissue box:


By this time, the "feathers" were nice and flat, ready for gluing. Before we glued, though, I had my son create a pattern out of the colored "feathers":




To add some pizzazz, and another little personal touch to our project, I used craft feathers, in the same colors as the paint, to adorn our turkey:



We had to let each row of "feathers" dry completely before applying the next row, so in between "feather" installation, we read some Thanksgiving books we got from our local library:


After applying the final set of "feathers", I went to work on making "I am thankful for..." business cards on which to write our daily thanksgivings. I waiting until our project was completed, snapped a photo of my son with our "give thanks" turkey box, and used it to decorate our cards. Here are some of the pictures I had to choose from...





...and, here's the one I used:


This morning, we wrote our first thanksgivings and placed them in the turkey box. My son said he was thankful for his baby cousin, Nahla, and wrote her name on his card:



And, of course, I wrote that I am thankful for my children, my son and our two dogs :-)

Monday, November 3, 2014

Authentic Preschool Spelling Activity: Autumn Leaf

I am always looking for authentic ways to introduce spelling into my son's learning. He was quite resistant, early on, to practice letter recognition, and I didn't want to make it worse by forcing him, so I piqued his interest by creating "real-life" experiences for letter recognition and practice.

Naturally, this has extended to our more recent ventures in learning how to spell.

One day, while collecting Autumn leaves at the park, a thought struck me: why not teach my son how to spell a word using the actual item. This idea culminated into today's Slice of Life...



I'm sure this has already been done in classrooms across the world -- heck, I've even used manipulatives to teach spelling and vocabulary with my 5th graders -- but this day at the park proved to be an epiphanonic moment for me in regards to my young son's spelling development!

When we got home, I placed the leaves inside a book to help flatten them. A couple days later, I pulled the leaves out, gathered the letter manipulatives I had created, and set up our activity.


First, I showed my son the word: LEAF. We identified each letter and then sounded them out until he realized the letters created the word "leaf". Then, I had him find the letters on our Clothespin Alphabet. Once we found the letters, I helped him clip each leaf to a wire hanger using the corresponding letters to spell L-E-A-F:








This activity allowed my son to relate individual letters and their sounds to words in a tangible, authentic way. He understood that the letters, L-E-A-F, strung together didn't just spell a word, they actually spelled something he could touch, feel, and see.

I'm always on the look out for more authentic learning opportunities for my son, so if you have any, please share in the comments below :-)

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Preschool Science Curriculum: Interdisciplinary Reptiles Unit

This week, I am celebrating my very first preschool science unit on reptiles. You can share your celebrations over at Ruth Ayres website: Ruth Ayres Writes.

The idea came to me one day while we were visiting one of my son's favorite places, the Reptile Room at CD's Pet Emporium.


I had been trying to find authentic, meaningful opportunities to introduce science instruction to my four-year old when I walked right into one, literally :-)

This is the first of a series of blog posts detailing how I turned an everyday visit to our local pet store into an interdisciplinary learning opportunity. Over the course of a week, my son and I engaged in reading, writing, math, science, and art, all reptile related.

I began our unit on our most recent visit to the Reptile Room. As we walked around the cavernous quarters, I asked my son to tell me what was inside each habitat. Right there, we had the opportunity for an authentic mini-lesson on what the word habitat means. Rather than simply tell my son the definition, we were able to observe and discuss each reptile's habitat, making the learning more meaningful.

We talked about the differences in each habitat and why certain animals are better suited for certain environments. For example, Box Turtles live on land, so their habitat consisted of a mulch floor and wood land features, where they could roam around and climb into.


Whereas, the Aquatic Turtles live most of their lives in the water. For their habitat, the pet store has created a wonderful water feature with rocks and sticks, and a few Koi fish. Here's my son peeking over the edge to get a better look, until I caught him :-)


I am a huge animal lover, so I also discussed with my son the importance of providing the most natural habitat for these animals. We talked about how sad it is that they are in tanks; a sad fact, but a fact, nonetheless. I also told him they all would hopefully go to responsible, loving pet owners.

As we made our way from one end of the room to the other, I wrote down which reptiles he saw, so that we could use this data for the culminating activity of our reptiles unit. Before that, though, we had to conduct some additional research into the wonderful world of reptiles, so our next stop was the local library, but that's my next blog post.

Until then, I would like to leave you with some more pictures from our visit to the Reptile Room:





I hope you will check back later this week to see my next installment of our interdisciplinary Reptiles Unit. Have any thoughts or suggestions? Feel free to leave them as a comment below :-)