Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Appreciating Trees

Is the air getting warmer? Do you see tiny sprouts peeping from the ground? Help your children to see these early signs of spring. Following is one activity we like young learners to engage in as they not only develop a sense of understanding for seasons, but also encourages them to understand that trees are important.

Begin by showing pictures of trees. Elicit from children the many positive things we get from trees. For example, they might discuss beauty, shade, homes for animals, and places to play, etc.

Put up a picture of a large tree. Have children stand in front of the tree and breathe in and out deeply. Explain to them that the tree helps give them good air to breathe and then takes out the bad air that they breathe out. Have them stand and practice this several times as it will help them remember and appreciate the “work” of trees as they use gross motor skills.

Make the point that trees help us so we should and can help them, too. Have a conversation about what children think trees need. After they have shared ideas, have them participate in a “little play” about a tree.

Hold up a seed from a tree that is local to your area. Tell children to pretend to be this seed. Children should scrunch down on floor.  Explain that the seed needs to land in good soil. This is like the homes they each have – a tree needs a good home, too.

Then dramatically tell the children that rain starts to fall.  You can even play the sound of rain to make this more fun. Explain that seeds need water to sprout.

Encourage children to begin sprouting. You can show them how to begin moving their hands/arms away from their scrunched body.

Explain that besides good soil, trees need the sun. This warmth helps the seed to break its way through the soil. Have children act out breaking through the good soil.

Tell children that over time, through many years, the tree grows. Its roots become strong. Have children stand still carefully in one place like tree roots. Talk about the development of a strong and sturdy trunk and have children stand up straight.  Tell them that more rain comes to help the tree and that the sun lets the tree make food.

Continue with your tree “play” by having children make branches by putting out their arms and wiggling their fingers for leaves.

Share that trees develop their seeds, which fall to the ground or might be carried to other place by animals. New trees grow. If appropriate, have children start their “play” all over again.

To extend this activity, show pictures of different types of soil (sand, mountainside, etc.) Discuss how these might be challenging for a tree’s growth.

Standards Alignment:
NAEYC – 2.G.02 & 2.J.
Head Start – III.B. & XI.B.2.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Subitizing: Fun and Interactive!

Many educators and mathematicians believe subitizing is an important readiness skill for later math success. This means we should be aware of what this is and how to help children and families.

Subitizing is the ability to “instantly see how many.” In other words, children can immediately see how many objects are in a set.

For more information on subitizing, watch the video below.
You can make subitizing tactile by using puffy balls or other 3 dimensional objects that children can touch and manipulate in various arrangements. See our previous blog post for more ideas http://www.maggiesbighome.com/2013/10/a-predictor-of-later-math-success.html

In addition to the ability to visually tell how many objects are in a set, children can also use auditory skills. Stomp, clap, or ring a bell and ask children to tell you what they heard. Children can even draw dots or lines to represent the number of stomps, etc.

We also encourage you to use nature to provide subitizing opportunities. When walking, point out groups of trees or flowers. Invite children to tell you “how many.” Gather children around and show them how to put fallen leaves in different arrangements and then ask a friend to tell how many leaves they see. Collecting pine cones or acorns? Have children arrange them in different ways and ask others to tell how many are seen. Children can arrange and rearrange them.

This is something you can encourage families to do at home. Soon, you will notice that children are doing this on their own!

Why not give families a definition of subitizing in your newsletter? Or better yet, give them the link to this website!

See our weekly free activity for more information. Sign-up to receive these free printable and age-appropriate activities for classroom or home use by providing your email in the white box. You can see examples by clicking on the Emergent Activities and Spanish tabs.

Standards Alignment:
NAEYC - 2.F.02 & 04.
Head Start - X.A.1, 4, & 5. 

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Connecting the Curriculum with Abraham Lincoln!

February is such an exciting month, and especially this year with talk of the Olympics along with those we celebrate as part of Black History Month. For more on this, please sign up for our free weekly activities. This week we feature Ruby Bridges, all grown up and still working for equality in New Orleans. Additionally, February brings us Valentine’s Day and Presidents’ Day. This week I wanted to share a favorite art activity from our days in the classroom. I often hear from our former students and this is one of the crafts these students remember with affection.

I often read books that featured the presidents, but because this post focuses on Abraham Lincoln, I’ll mention a few of my favorite Lincoln books:

Looking At Lincoln by Maira Kalman
Abe Lincoln’s Hat by Martha Brenner
Abe Lincoln: The Boy Who Loved Books by Kay Winters
Honest Abe Lincoln by David A. Adler

After reading these books and making a class list about the life of Abraham Lincoln, we study pennies. I hand out a penny to each child and have them discuss ways these coins are alike and ways they are different. Of course, there may be much discussion about the years these pennies were minted. If I really want to get young minds working, I often go through my pennies and use only those coins that were minted in the birth years of my students. That makes the activity more meaningful!

Next we do a bit of science and clean the dirty pennies using a solution of white vinegar and salt. Children love to watch the transformation!

Review the life of Abraham Lincoln, taking special note of his young life in a log cabin. Hand out craft sticks so children can make their own log cabins. 

Then have them use some math to cut out shapes: a square for the window, a rectangle for the door, and a triangle for the roof. 


Finally, have children place their clean Lincoln penny in the log cabin window!

Standards Alignment:

NAEYC – 2.C.03., 2.F.06., 2.J.05., 2.L.11.

Head Start – I.D.4., III.C.1., V.C.3., X.C.1.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

I Appreciate You!

Valentine’s Day is quickly approaching and we thought this was a good time to remind you to show the love – for your profession! We all know that teachers are not always appreciated. So, take this week to do something nice for yourself and for your colleagues.

One way to build morale is create a “What I Appreciate About You” board or wall. Just put a pad of sticky notes next to an empty space and create smiles by sharing specifics about colleagues. For example, avoid saying a generality like, “You care about the children in your class.” Say something like, “I always hear you complimenting the way your class lines up. This has inspired me to talk in a more positive manner to my children.” When you can be clear about a detail and then share how a person has impacted you, it makes that teacher feel more appreciated. If you choose to share a space like this in a public area, you may find family members joining in, too. This certainly creates a positive atmosphere.

You may want to look around at your colleagues and make a list of little things that might make each one smile. Coffee lover in the group? Find out what goodies she likes to stir into her brew. Give this peer a thank you bag with her favorite sweetener and a few biscuits to enjoy with her morning drink. This let her know that you noticed and care.

Another meaningful expression is to fix up goodie bags with travel-sized necessities for classroom teacher fix-ups – band-aids, hair spray, change for the snack machine, etc. This small gesture lets your colleagues know you care about their daily mental health.

You may want to develop a child care exchange to support those colleagues with young ones at home. For example, set up a few days where the staff rotates taking care of another person’s babysitting needs so teachers can get needed adult time.

Cooking at home? Make double of whatever meal you prepared and bring the extra portion to a colleague who may need a break. What a wonderful way to tell someone that you have noticed how much they do – and this is appreciated!

In our world, where teachers are overworked, underpaid, and too often criticized, we need to take care of one another. Let us know in the Comment section how you are letting your colleagues how much they are appreciated! 

And remember, we at Maggie's Earth Adventures and Maggie's Big Home appreciate YOU!