Nature Week – Day 1 and 2.

In honor of Earth Day this week we are having Nature Week at the Wunderlich household.

Monday’s Lesson: What is Nature?

On Monday we learned about what we count as Nature.

Activity 1: Look around the backyard and decide what is nature and what is not nature. We ran around the backyard yelling, “Nature,” or “Not nature,” about everything. Nicholas correctly told me that the plants, trees, grass, dirt, bird, clouds, sky, puddles, and seeds were nature. Then the boards, nails, fence, patio, toys, chalk, chalkboard, bee catcher, plane in the air, and house were “not nature.”

Activity 2: Drawing nature. We did some art time today. I wrote the words, “tree, flower, bush, sun, clouds,” on separate sheets of paper. He drew various pictures of each one on the right paper. We did end up with purple clouds, red trees, and brown flowers – and all the drawings looked rather alike – but he attempted it.

Activity 3: Trace the words. I wrote several words in block lettering that related to nature. He then used his pencil and traced the words. Then he tried writing the words, with helpful guidance from me, on a separate sheet of paper.

Tuesday’s Lesson: Flowers and Trees.

In preparation for this activity, I looked online and printed out color pictures of roses, poppies, tulips, and daisies. I also printed pictures of ever greens (pine), maples, oaks, and willows. I put these pictures on a sheet of paper with the right names next to them. I also printed out basic information about each type of flower or tree that included: How it grows, how big it can get, what colors is comes in, what its leaves/flowers look like, and where it grows.

Activity 1: Naming things. We named all the pictures and talked about the difference between a tree and a flower. He then circled all the flowers on the page in red, and all the trees in green.

Activity 2: How things grow. I did a preschool version of how things grow. Things grow from a seed to a plant with water, sunlight, and good dirt. We went outside and watered plants and made sure all our plants got sunlight. He walked to each plant and put water on it and made sure it could get sunlight. We got online and looked at pictures of different seeds and the plants they grow into.

Activity 3: I then cut the pictures of flowers and trees apart. I helped him write the number for all tall they will get – in inches – on the bottom of each picture. Then he had to arrange them in order from the smallest to the largest. Then we mixed them up and did largest to smallest. We did this multiple times because he thought it was fun.

Activity 4: I made a word search puzzle for him, using the words on the sheet of paper that he traced. It was a large word search – I had to tape 2 pieces of paper together to make it. Each time he found a word we crossed it off the other sheet of paper. He eventually found them all, but he did need help.

Activity 5: I drew a grass field and a sky with a sun on a piece of paper. Then I gave him nature stickers that included birds, trees, flowers, et al. He got to make a nature scene on the piece of paper.

The rest of the lessons

The rest of the lessons will be posted as I do them. Wednesday is going to be clouds. Thursday is going to be a nature scavenger hunt and rocks. Friday will be about lakes, oceans, and rivers.

Online Resources I Used

http://www.sciencekids.co.nz/gamesactivities/plantsgrow.html

http://www.ehow.com/how_14847_explain-children-trees.html

http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/scienceclips/teachersresources/ages5_6/tr_ages5_6.shtml

http://www.first-school.ws/activities/science/seedsgrow.htm

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Tips for reading with children

Tips for reading with Preschoolers:

  • Read together every day. The more you make it a habit, the more reading will get done.
  • Talk about everything. If you child asks a question, answer it. The more you talk about things, the more their vocabulary will grow.
  • Read in different voices. For each character, use a different voice to make it interesting.
  • Be interactive. Discuss what is happening with the book. Ask questions: What do you think will happen next? Why did this happen?
  • Read things over and over and over again. Kids love repetition.
  • Point out familiar words on signs, in stores, and everywhere.

Tips for reading with Toddlers:

  • Don’t expect them to sit still for the book. It is okay if they run around while you are reading – you will be surprised at how much they are listening and learning.
  • Singing songs and rhymes helps toddlers learn words and word order. Deliberately make a mistake in your toddler’s favorite song and see how long it takes before they correct you.
  • Keep reading short. Do it more often rather than having more time at one sitting.
  • Read about things they are interested in. A book with a ton of truck pictures, even if the words seem too big for a toddler, will hold their attention better than a book with no pictures or pictures they are not interested in.

Tips for reading with Babies:

  • Snuggle up with a book. Babies love to be held and snuggled so reading a book while doing this is a bonus.
  • Choose baby-friendly books. These are books that can be touched and played with and handled hard. The heirloom edition of fairy tales might be nice to have, but it is not nice for babies to read.
  • Encourage your baby to talk to you. They will use coos and gurgles, but these are the beginnings of words and vocalizations. The more these are encouraged the more they will develop.
  • Make reading a habit. Just like good sleeping habits, good reading habits start early.

Reading time

Do you read with your children?

The recommended time to read is at least 15 minutes a day. This doesn’t seem like a big commmitment, and it isn’t. Everyone can spend 15 minutes a day reading with their children. Here are some strategies to make reading more fun.

1. Pick kid-friendly books on kid-friendly topics. I know some parents like to simply read whatever they are reading to the kids, and this works while they are babies and can’t go anywhere, but once they are bigger you need kid friendly books. Some favorites in our house are Dr. Seuss, anything with Cars (Disney movie), and anything with trucks or fire engines. If you don’t know what your child would like, schedule a time to go to the library and let them roam around and choose. In Sacramento, the libraries let you take out 30 books at a time, renew them online, and even get children library cards. This is a fun and free way to read.

2. Settle down before reading. Reading is not a run-around-the-house activity. It is a more settled activity. So this means you need to settle down before reading. If you have an active child, like mine, then you need a period of active play before reading. Only then can kids settle down to focus on reading.

3. Have fun. If you treat this as a chore, so will your children.

Books can open up whole new worlds. They can take kids to space, explain the weather, and make new friends. Reading is not only important, it is fun.

The M&M game.

M&M’s are great learning tools. They are small enough you can use them to learn numbers and counting, they come in various colors to learn sorting and patterns, and they can be made into shapes. Then, as a treat, they can get eaten at the end of the lesson! Here are some lessons you can do with M&M’s – what our family calls “The M&M game.”

Sorting

Simply place the M&M’s on the table – how every many you want – and ask the child to sort them into color groups. Sorting emphasizes that some things are the same (the same colors) and others are different (not the right color). Then have the child name the various colors that were sorted.

Patterns

Take M&M’s and make a pattern. The first one we did was yellow-brown-yellow-brown-yellow (The contrast of the two colors is great). Then have the child do two tasks: First, add 3 M&M’s (or however many you want) to the end of the chain. This reinforces that patterns can continue. Second, have the child make a similar pattern with a set of M&M’s. This is a copying skill – you are asking your child to mimic something they see.

Counting

Decide what number you want to count to and place that many M&M’s in a pile. Ask the child to count the M&M’s in the pile. Once this is done correctly, eat the M&M’s. You can do this in conjunction with the other games: In the sorting game, have the child count the number in each pile before eating them. In the pattern game, have the child count the number in each pattern before they eat them.

Addition and Subtraction

Put some M&M’s on the table. Place one in front of the child. Ask how many have to be added to make two. Then have them move how ever many they say (one, two, or three) to the first M&M and count them. If they are wrong – if they said you needed to add 3 to the 1, instead of 1 to the 1, then they will count themselves wrong. Repeat this until the child has added correctly. You can do this with any number and any addition problems. It also works with subtraction.

 

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