Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Dinosaur Unit

I'm going to start putting my lesson on here for several reasons:

-Show the parents exactly what we're doing and give them the resources to do further learning at home.

-Share the ideas and links with my fellow teachers.  I sure have benefitted a lot from other teacher's blogs!

-So I don't forget!  I want to do a circular curriculum, meaning that we revisit topics each year but on a new level or in a new way.  This is a great way to learn as it's appropriate for all age levels (my stuff is geared towards toddlers now) but have great extension activities for older children.

I'm a lazy (read busy.  I said toddlers right?) blogger so I'll try to be as complete as possible with the links but I may add on to them the next time we visit this unit.  Also every lesson plan is different and mine change with the child's age so I won't classify activities.  Something I used as an outdoor activity might work for your science lesson and something I did for a cultural activity might be a good language activity for your kids.  Mix and Match and feel free to add your suggestions or link in the comment section!

So here's the first one:

Online storybooks:

               Short and sweet.
               Long but good!  Music and reading really fun.  Love the accent!

Online Videos:
               No sound and grainy image.  Do not maximize for better image.  
               We used this short video to discuss the parts of a volcano.
               Not our favorite.  Slow and don't match our slideshow cards
             Fun for older children (some of the toddler we're nervous about the images.
             Features real life dinosaur bones and an image of Camille Saint Saens.
             Surprise ending the the kids liked but some found scary.
            By far their favorite!  Short and fun.  Features fossils verse by Ogden Nash

Dinosaur Breakfast!  One plain and one goat cheese and honey toast with blueberries.

My Pinterest Board for This Unit:

My Slide Shows (often based on printable resources below):

     I added Pterodactyl to the cards below and the sounds
     We use this each time we feature a composer in the set

Printable Resources:


What's on Our Shelves:

Homemade Laminated Sandpaper Land and Water Form Cards (instructions on French but used templates in reduced size with laminated squares of blue construction paper and sandpaper cutouts) and a Velociraptor from Target's dollar bins.  We use the landform names when we play with the dino on the cards.  One of my girls loves to have the dino drink from or fall in the water.  "oh, no! The Velociraptor fell in the bay!"  The younger children just experiece the cards as "rough" and "smooth" Can also match these to the real life images in the Land and Water Forms slide show. 

Wooden "dino" eggs and egg cups hand-dyed with food coloring.  To match by color.  Younger children work with one at a time as a simple puzzle or match one to one without matching colors.  The older children place the eggs in the egg cups on the tray at one end of the room and the empty egg bowl on the other and use the wooden spoon to walk it across the room and deposit it in the bowl.  They needed my help putting the egg on the spoon but the almost-2-year-old could do it with little trouble.  The younger toddlers used the spoon to "cook".  Wooden spoon from Dollar Tree and dyed with RIT.  Silver tray from Dollar Tree.

Alphabet Dinosaur Bones Excavation using "real tools".  Dish tub and magnifying glasses from Dollar Tree.  Bones laminated from Dino Dig! file folder game.  Paintbrushes from IKEA.  Spoon/chopsticks from Target dollar bins.  Sand "borrowed" from local playground. ;)

Friday, March 21, 2014

Vegetable Proteins

Here at daycare, we eat mostly vegetarian.  With the exception of some tuna or deli meat from time to time, it's veggies for us.  But where's the protein?  Lisa Leake, author of the blog 100 Days of Real Food said it best, in regards to the meals she packed for her children's lunches,  when she said "no one's ever heard of someone having protein deficiency."  Why?  Because there are lots of ways to get protein without meat.  Here's her full opinion on protein.

Ok, so feeling better already.  But still having trouble when making meals that are well rounded? Here's how I plan our meals.  I think of a main dish I want to make.  Then I think, does it contain protein, grain, dairy or vegetables?  If so, cross those off the list.  If not, add a side.  Then add some fruit and a glass of milk or water.  Voila!  Easy balanced meal.

Remember that some items are both proteins and dairy like milk and cheese.  Or both vegetables and proteins like broccoli or legumes.  Items can be dairy in one meal and protein in another meal of you want.  Shoot for half a plate of fruits and vegetables, 1/4 a plate of protein and 1/4 plate of grain plus a glass of milk.

So what else besides peanut butter and cheese count as a protein?  Here's a great list of proteins found in plant food:

Some of my other quick go to proteins are yogurt, egg, cheese, hummus, and nuts (though be careful to chop or grind nuts for smaller children.)

Have fun with your meal planning.  I hope this makes meals easier for you and your child as well as quicker and less costly.  It's been said that making just one family meal a week vegetarian can do great things for you health, immunity and even weight loss.  


Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Book Review: The Smiley Book of Colors

I picked up this book at the library for a colors and rainbow unit.  I skimmed it and didn't fully read it until I got home and I just fell in love with the words of this book!  Such a great message about happiness.  I think I'll add it to our Emotions unit too.  We like to read it twice.  Once with the words  (I love that it rhymes) and then again with only the color words.  The smiley faces in the book encourage us to look for smiley when we're out and about.  I'm for sure putting this book on my wish list for our future classroom library!

Here's the Summary from Amazon:

This unique book, which grew out of the popular website Spontaneous Smiley, will appeal to kids and adults. Who can resist the wacky, cute smiley faces to be spied in photos of colorful found objects? Young readers will enjoy learning their colors as they're identifying what the smileys are made from—an electrical outlet, a hubcap, even a piece of toast—and readers of all ages will appreciate the witty rhyming text, and its inspirational message about choosing happiness.

And here's a bit about the author:

RUTH KAISER is a mom, an artist, an actor, and a teacher. Her Internet-based Spontaneous Smiley project is made up of thousands of people photographing and posting smiley faces they find in everyday objects. (This was started long before the recent American Express ad campaign featuring similar images.) In August 2009, Spontaneous Smiley began a partnership with the charity Operation Smile, which funds surgeries for children around the globe with facial deformities. A smiley upload earns a $1 donation to Operation Smile.
Spontaneous Smiley, which has recieved well over 13 million page requests, has been used in high-school art projects in New Jersey and Washington State, and for a Girl Scout troop in California. It has gotten lots of press globally—including China—and it was recently featured on the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Have Printer....Will Teach!

Thanks to all the super people out there who make tons of Montessori-style printables and cards, we have lots to learn.  The best part?  All I have to do is print them out!

Here's my secret system 

to one of the easiest and cheapest 

ways to teach:

1. Three-Part Cards

    • First find what you want to teach (parts of a bird, types of flowers, planets, etc...)  Then use internet images to make three-part cards (picture and name, picture alone, name alone)
    • Here's a template  that I use.  It's so easy!  Don't forget to store a copy on your computer in case you need to replace a card piece.
    • Laminate for durability if desired.  You can use clear shelf liner contact paper or laminating pouches
    • Cut apart

2. Control Cards (File Folder Games)

    • Use a glue stick to attach the picture and name card (control card) to a colored or plain file folder.  Think about the layout.  (If you know a song about the continents, put the cards down in that order.  Place planet cards in order by which is closest to the sun.  Place life-cycle cards in a circular shape on the file folder...)
    • Laminate for durability if desired.  You can use clear shelf liner contact paper or laminating pouches
    • Punch closed file folder on folded edge with a three-hole punch.
    • Store file folder games in a three-ring binder

3. Cardstock Storage Folders

    • Take a single sheet of colored or plain cardstock and fold it into a small pocketed folder following the tutorial (click on above image from Montessori Printshop.)
    • Laminate for durability if desired.  You can use clear shelf liner contact paper or laminating pouches
    • Attach velcro dots or large paperclips for closures if desired
    • Label top edges and file in a box

4. Power Point Flash Cards

    • Now use those same images to make a simple Power Point slide show (flash cards) to go along with the cards.  We go through the current cards twice a day for two weeks.

5. Related Toys and Books

    • Now put any related toys or books out that week. (Learning about Animals of Africa?  Take out Manacala, African print fabrics, toy animals, globe, books on animals or Africa, put grass clippings and sand in the sensory tub.....use what you have on hand!)

That's it!!!  So Easy!!!

Let's review:

  1. Print / Make Cards
  2. Make File Folder Game (Control Cards)
  3. Store Cards
  4. Make Power Point Flash Cards
  5. Take out Related Toys and Books

Now how to use them:

  • Match the picture cards to the control cards
  • Match the picture and name cards to the control cards
  • Match the name cards to the picture cards (check control cards after for self-correction)
  • Match 3D items to the control or picture cards
  • Match The name cards to a poster, puzzle, book or just about anything
  • Line up or sort the picture cards by attributes
  • Use the cards as discussion starters
  • Match related cards to control cards (animals to continents, vehicles to community helpers...)

That's just a few ideas.  

Here's a couple more creative ways to add to your teaching:

  • Use the file folder control cards and the picture cards as a bingo board
  • Use the file folder control cards and sound effects on the computer as a sound bingo game
  • Make doubles of the picture cards for matching or memory game
  • Mix and match cards to make a new set (Africa= continent card, cheetah card, lion card...)

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Praise vs. Encouragement (the lingo)

We’ve been hearing a lot about how over-praising our children can set them up for failure (needing outside approval to feel good, giving up quickly if they can’t succeed, block the building of self-esteem and personal pride, building anxiety…to name a few) And I’m totally on board!  But I find myself at a loss for the correct phrases and so I go back to the old stand-bys (“I like how Mary…”, “You’re so smart!”…) 
So I compiled this list of encouragement phrases from several sources to help adults by focusing not on the outcome (which the child cannot always control) but on something they can control, their effort! o “Thank you for hanging your coat up.  That sure helps keep the cubby area clean.” 

o “I noticed how you….”

o “Tell me about what you did at circle time today.” 

o “Tell me about your painting.” 

o “Wow, you used a lot of blocks in this structure.  Tell me about it.”

o “You sat with your body still and your eyes right on me.  It looked like you were working very hard to listen carefully.”

o “You’ve really stuck with that.  You’re working really hard.”  “It looks like that’s getting a little easier.  You must have been practicing.”

o “You worked hard.  You must be so proud of yourself.”

o “Thanks for helping”

o “You used all those different colors.”

o “You straightened all the bookshelves.”

o “You should be proud of yourself.”

o “You tried very hard to be on time.”

o “Any teacher would appreciate you.”

o “You’re being so careful with that.”

o "I have faith in you."

o "I trust your decision."

o "I knew you could do it."

o "You did your best and you didn't give up."

o "I really appreciate your help."

o "I love you no matter what."

o “You have picked a nice outfit today.”

o “Look what you did with your hair today.”

o “You are studying hard.”

o “You are working really hard at figuring that out.”

o “How do you think you did?”

o “Why is that?”

o “How did you figure that out?”

o "Go on. Have a try/ Have a go/ Have a guess."

o “How do you think you will handle it next time?”

o "You were almost right/ That's almost it/ You've almost got it. Try again."

o  "There's no need to rush/ There's no hurry/ We have plenty of time."

o "(That was a) nice try/ attempt."

o "(This/ that is/ was) much better than last time/ last week/ yesterday."

o "Keep going/ Don't give up/ You can do it! (You’re) nearly there/ almost there/ getting there/ getting warmer/ getting closer (You’re) getting better."

In a nutshell:

Say “I noticed…”

Say “Thank you for…”
Say “Tell me about…”
Say “Try again” or “You can do it.”
Say “look how (careful/detailed/quiet/gentle…) you’re being with that.”
Say “Look how hard you’re working on that.”
Make a detailed statement about what you see
Simply give them a warm smile

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Our Weekly Menu System

I'm really trying to install some rhythm to our days, especially when it come to meal time.  I like cooking and baking but hate thinking of a meal idea on the spot or planning shopping lists.  (We're the "walk down the aisles at Trader Joe's grabbing what we typically buy and anything that interests us" types.)  I don't know how many times we've gone out for bar food because neither of us wanted to think of what to make or verify if we had all the right ingredients for something.  Since I work from home managing a small family child care, I'm making meals and snacks several times a day and I wanted to make it more automatic and easy.

So I came up with this awesome flexible Family Menu:

Check out the entire article and how I use my Family Menu combined with this Weekly Menu Planner below to make meals a breeze!

click here for full articel

Our Weekly Menu System

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Science Bottles and Free Printable

Here's a quick post about some of our Toddler Science Bottles.

A Science Bottle is a bottle containing a science experiment or phenomenon that can not be opened and is meant to be explored visually and otherwise.

Most people do these with individual sized plastic drink bottles.  I'm using plastic peanut butter jars.  That's for two reasons, one I like the conformity of the size and two, I'm tired of seeing kids slobber all over the caps of the bottles.  Even my preschoolers put that part of the bottle in their mouth (they often played with them in the Home Living area as play food bottles) and it's yucky.

The jars have other advantages over bottles too.  There's no ridges to obstruct view and the lid is large giving me space to place the label without covering up any of the contents.

My basic set is 6 jars of simple science including: Separation, Settle Down, Density, I Spy, Bubbles, and Magnetism.

Here's how we make each one:

Separation: 1/2 water tinted with blue food coloring, 1/2 vegetable oil

Settle Down: 1 small container of glitter glue, 1 tsp loose glitter, hot water to almost the top

Density: (river rock) 1/4 honey, (popcorn kernels)1/4 maple syrup, (plastic bead) 1/4 red tinted water, (bottle cap) 1/4 vegetable oil, (cork)

Colors and Shapes:  rice, many colored beads in various shapes and colors

Bubbles: 1/2 colored water and a generous squirt of dish soap

Magnetism: paperclips, snips of pipe cleaner, safety pins, various screws, nuts and bolts etc...

And here's how we use each one:

Separation: Tilt from side to side and remark how the colors stay separated.  Compare the motion it make to a wave. Shake it up, see how the blue water and yellow oil combine to make green.  Watch the colors separate, explain that water is denser than oil so it separates to the bottom while oil is less dense than water and moves to the top.

Settle Down:  Give the jar a good shake.  Now hold it or set it on the table and watch the glitter swirl and settle to the bottom.  Very relaxing.  Great for before bed or to "settle down" and calm your mind.  Shaking gets the aggresion out and watching it setttle helps children relax.  Try shaking the jar sideways and watch how the glitter swirls sideways before settling down.  Explain that the glitter falls to the bottom because it's heavier or denser than the water.

Density: Discuss the various items and colors of liquids in the bottle.  Discuss density and how denser liquids move to the bottom and less dense liquids move to the top.  Compare the density of the liquids compared to themselves. Point out the various object trapped between each layer.  Make statements about the density of the items compared to the liquids.  "The bead is less dense than maple syrup but denser than the water."  Compare the density of the objects compared to themselves.  Shake it up.  Watch the colors and objects separate.  Play "I Spy" with it and look for certain objects.  Ask the child to make statements on where an object is using preposition words (on, under, between...) or density words (less dense than, more dense than, but not as dense as...)

Colors and Shapes: Take a photo of the items in the bottle before it is assembled. 
Slowly rotate the bottle and note the items the child recognizes inside.  Ask them to find certain colors or shapes.  Ask them to try and find two of something.  Look at the photo of the items and try to find one particular item.  Great activity for nap time or to settle down with.  Practice saying or signing color and shape words.  Play "I Spy" with colors or shapes and have the child find them.

Bubbles: Shake the jar and watch how the bubbles fill up the container.  Explain that a bubble is a liquid ball filled with air.  Watch the bubbles pop.  Tilt the jar back and forth and notice how the bubbles stay on top.  Practice saying the word 'bubbles".  Point out other bubbles in the real word like when you wash dishes or your hands.

Magnetism: Take a photo of the items in the bottle before it is assembled.  Have a discussion about which type of things are magnetic.  Make predictions on which items the child thinks will react to the magnet.  Use a magnet wand or large horseshoe magnet on the side of the bottle..  Note which items reacted to the magnet.  Compare results to predictions and draw conclusions to why the child thinks each item acted as it did.  Try to grab only one particular item with the magnet and move it around.  Try to move an item from the bottom of the bottle to the top using the magnet.  Move the magnet away and watch the item drop.

Here's are the sets of labels I designed for the tops of the peanut butter jars.

Words Only 

Words and Images

You can place these on the sides of your bottles if you prefer.  I recommend printing them on sticker paper, waterproofing them with clear packing tape or clear contact paper and then cutting them out by hand or with a large hole punch.  Then adhere them to the jar lids or bottle sides.

I'm looking forward to adding more as the children grow!!