piatok 10. februára 2012

ANIMAL WEEK - polar animals and hibernating animals

There are animals who like winter weather and animals who don't like it. This is why I combined those two topics in one week.

First we should talk about arctic animals. I prepared photos on my computer to show them to children. We can meet: an arctic fox, an arctic hare, a caribou, a muskox, a penguin, a polar bear, a seal, a snowy owl and a walrus. You might be surprised by the amount of different strange animals, but I think they are very exotic and interesting for children :)

Children get to know how is it possible for these animals to survive in low temperatures and more about their habits and natural habitat. They notice (or I can do it for them) that all of these animals move in a different way, that's why we do a physical activity "Walk like a..." ...polar bear (on four "legs"), penguin (with feel "glued" to each other), seal (laying on a belly, using just hands), arctic hare (jumping like a bunny), snowy owl (waving arms like wings).

I thought about practising fine motor skills by making an owl or a penguin - very easily, without any pattern. Just cut a random shape, looking more or less like a penguin or an owl (out of black or white paper) and draw the rest (or cut another pieces to make a white belly for penguin). The point of this activity is that it doesn't matter if you can cut or you cannot, every shape is a good shape, there might be baby penguins or grandpas owls, it is less stressful for children (they sometimes don't enjoy cutting with a pattern, because they can see it's far from perfection). We can make a gallery of penguins/snowy owls later :)

Another physical activity that I thought of is "Jump on the ice-float!". Children can "swim" around the classroom while the music is playing, but when it stops, they have to jump on the ice-float (a special place marked out with rope or in another way). Those who do it first become Masters of Survival :)

I realised that my children are very good in counting, they can count in English up to 15 (without a mistake!) and some of them even more. That is why I decided to introduce them to addition up to 5 (for a starter), using signs "+" and "=". An exercise for it I called "Add the penguins!" (of course at home you can add ANYTHING!). Children add the penguins standing on two ice-floats. They show on their fingers how many penguins are on the two ice-floats. Then they do the same, but on a worksheet - they have to draw as many dots as many penguins are in two boxes.

Similarly we get to know the hibernating animals. I prepared pictures on my computer, which we can watch and describe. You can see that there are just 5 animals on the pictures. I decided to limit that amount to animals hibernating in Slovakia and I chose only those who are the most popular and which children already should know.

So in the picture you can see a squirrel, a brown bear, an European chamster, a groundhog and a hedgehog.

Children get to know how these animals prepare to spend the winter, where they make their hiding-places (lairs, holes and burrows :), what happens when they wake up (some of them wake up few times in winter, eat a little bit and fall asleep again).

As we got to know two groups of animals, we can practise our classification skills. Children see two spots: an ice-float and a bed, on which some animals are sitting. But some animals actually forgot where they should be, children's task is to decide which animal shoud stand on the ice-float and which should go to bed.  The same they do on a worksheet.

I prepared for children also a drama activity. Children listen to a story about bears who get surprised by winter and very quickly have to prepare for hibernating. Children act out the story, being in roles of bears. This activity helps to show better our feeling, develops empathy skills and is also a good physical exercise :) it also develops listening skills and understanding English.

Also with hibernating animals we can add. "Add the hedgehogs!" is a parallel activity to "Add the penguins!", just now we're using hedgehogs instead. Children also finish that activity by filling a worksheet, which is a bit more difficult than the one with penguins.

That's what I prepared for Animal Week in a shortcut :) I hope that when I come back from my sick leave I will be able to do some of these things with your children... But don't be afraid, we will add anyway and practise other skills anyway :)  
Greetings! Irena
PS. If you want to have some winter-land-animal fun, see this link: http://lolsnaps.com/upload_pic/223.jpg :)

Some useful vocabulary: arctic fox, arctic hare, bear lair, brown bear, burrows, caribou, chamster, fat, fur, groundhog, hedgehog, hibernation, hiding-place, ice-float, muskox, penguin, polar bear, seal, snowy owl, squirrel, to stock up, walrus.

streda 1. februára 2012

Secrets of Winter - snow & winter clothes

First: sorry for such a long delay in writing, things were pretty crazy last week in my life ;)

Before that week I spent a weekend in High Tatras, in Horny Smokovec. I took some pictures of snow and packed some snow to take it to Bratislava :) I like telling children about my trips, because it helps them to talk about their life, they are more open and it helps bonding. I think it's very important for them to be able to share personal life with others, it develops their social and emotional skills, makes group a Group.

So we started the week from a riddle: Where was I this weekend? I gave them hints like "there is a lot of snow now" or "I had to climb up and later I slid down on a sled" or "I had to wear warm winter shoes and winter suits", finally they guessed that I was in the mountains :) Then we watched the pictures, children were describing them and we sung a part of a song about 4 seasons:

"- Hello winter what's your color?
- I am white, I am white, snow is white, ice is white, white is my favourite colour, white is my favourite colour!"

We played a short "Colour Game" - I asked: What else is white? Milk is white! Sun is white! etc. - first children where shouting "yeeees! noooo!" but because I don't like shouting in my classroom, we decided to show "yes" through putting our hands up and "no" through holding them on our knees. You can play that game with any colours you want - you can mix the colours or play only one colour at a time.

I asked children the  most important question: Is it possible to bring snow from Tatras to Bratislava? Of course almost all children knew that it would melt, some had an idea to put it into a fridge :) I showed them a jar with water and told them how I wanted to bring snow to Bratislava, since I heard that there was no snow anymore in here. Children looked at the water in a jar, they realised it's dirty and that they must not eat the snow. By the way we also got to know how snow is made: in the clouds, where are pieces of dust, water gathers around the pieces of dust and when it's very cold, raindrops freeze and turn into snowflakes, get 6 arms and fall on the ground. We sung a well known (by our children) song: "Snow is falling on the ground":

("Frere Jaques" tune)
Snow is falling, snow is falling
on the ground, on the ground,
wintertime is now here, wintertime is now here
look around, look around

I used that topic to repeat our knowledge about shapes:
* we saw pictures of mountains and we realised they look almost like triangles,
*we had an exercise with "shape snowflakes" (what shape is that? find another one? which one is bigger, which one is smaller? - you can simply practise it with your children, just cut out those shapes and ask them to find pairs)

* we had a very difficult worksheet:

* but we tried to make it easier with card game: "Find matching card" with similar shapes on the cards - that game was easier than the worksheet and gave children more fun (healthy competition and high-fiving those who found a pair :)
* on the beginning of circle time we often repeat shapes (square, triange, rectangle and circle) - we have them hung on the board, they are in 4 colours (yellow, green, red and white) and I ask them both: "what colour is square?" or "which shape is white?" or I just show the shape and children say the name.

On another day we focused on the shape of snowflakes. We saw pictures of snowflakes taken by Wilson Bentley (http://snowflakebentley.com/) and we pointed out that it's almost impossible to find two identical snowflakes. Later we made artworks - string snowflakes - you can see them in classroom. More snowflake artwork ideas you can find in internet :)

Note: Children weren't very happy when I showed them flour glue which I prepared for our artwork, some of them were quite afraid to put their fingers in it and during work they were wiping their hands all the time. It is very good for their sensory development to touch different substances (even dirt), the more impressions they get, the more developed their senses are :) We also don't want our children to grow to be mysophobic, so they need to know that a little bit of dirt doesn't kill us.
Sometimes, if you have some extra free time, bake with your children and let them mix the dough with their own hands or make some flour glue (it's non-toxic!) and make some paper-mache masks on a balloon. And let your children play in mud - if you don't want them to destroy nice clothes, dress them in daddy's old T-Shirts :)

The last topic part was "winter clothes". We had a Bag of Secrets, where we could find different clothes, children were deciding if they are made for winter or not. It was interesting that when I showed them a spaghetti-strap top, which in my mind was for summer, they noticed it can be worn under T-shirt in winter :) clever children :) so we practised our winter clothes vocabulary, we filled a worksheet about it and on another day we checked the words in Velky Obrazkovy Slovnik. Maybe that's not a lot, but remember that everyday we go outside and we practise that vocabulary in the best way - in real life experiences.

Some of the words we used last week: boots, circle, dust, gloves, hat, mittens, mountains, raindrops, rectangle, scarf, snow, snowflake, square, tights, triangle, warm socks, winter, winter jacket, winter suit.

That would be all, I will write soon about the plans I had for this week, but unfortunately I got sick and I need to stay at home for few days.
Enjoy your time with children! Greetings :)