art · family activity · STEAM · story · teaching thoughts · topic

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs

Today I want to share one of my favorite books to read in my classes Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs by Judi Barrett. Grandpa tells the best stories… Travel to the Land of Chewandswallow where it rains food three times a day. (In my opinion this book is WAY better than the movie!). There are two more books in this series Pickles to Pittsburgh and Planet of the Pies.

Each of these fun books easily lends themselves to lots of fun and creative activities! Write a weather report for the Land of Chewandswallow to go with Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs. What would you like to see it rain for breakfast, lunch and dinner? Have your child help you plan and cook a meal of their choosing and pretend the ingredients fell from the sky.

Design a machine that the Falling Food Company can use to help move and package the food for delivery, after reading Pickles to Pittsburgh. This machine can be drawn, built, or even just explained from your imagination.

After reading Planet of the Pies, design a box to deliver the Martian pies to Earth. Create a machine to safely catch the pies before the hit Mars. Bake a pie!

Using literature as a jumping off spot for lessons is a great way to expand upon the learning. When children begin to make connections between the story and real life they are more connected to the learning. It will also help with working on comprehension skills as you can ask them to share pieces of the story that connect to the activity you are choosing to do at home.

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art · story · topic

Jazz on a Saturday Night

Today we will read the story Jazz on a Saturday Night by Leo & Diane Dillon. I have to say that I not only enjoyed this story, but the teacher who is sharing this book extends the learning to explain a bit about the musicians in the story.

The first activity today is to listen to Thelonious Monk’s Monk’s Mood. While you listen to this song, draw. Drawing to music is a great way to express feelings. There is no right or wrong way to draw to music and just as Thelonious Monk believed in adding dissonance to his music, encourage your child to add things that look a bit “off” to their art. When I draw to music, I tend to just like to draw in the abstract, but many children find inspiration to more true to life drawings.

Next, listen to Eboni Ramm and the band explore the various types of jazz combining the story Kayla and Eli Discover Jazz by Steven Earl and samples of the types of music. (click here for the link to SC Jazz Festival’s exploration of this story and music). While listening to this story and music, do not sit and watch the video, get up and move! Listen to the different styles of jazz. How can you move your body to match the different jazz styles? Some music types might make you want to move your whole body and others just your head, toes or fingers. There is not a right way… the goal is to move. Which type of jazz did you like best? Did you like the jazz that gets you moving a lot or the ones that make you just want to sway?

family activity · STEAM · story · teaching thoughts · writing

Cookies!

Who doesn’t love cookies? I love cookies. I love to eat cookies. I love to bake cookies and I love to share cookies. Here are two “stories” from the same author about cookies, sort of? These books are more of a dictionary of sorts… each page defines a word such as considerate, cooperate and other life lesson words. The author ties these words to enjoying cookies.

Sugar Cookies, Sweet Little Lessons on Love and Cookies, Bite Size Life Lessons by Amy Krause Rosenthal

I love to introduce children to cooking and baking. My own sons were in the kitchen helping starting around age 2. Check out this post from BBC goodfood on kitchen skills by age. Remember as always, age suggestions are just suggestions, you know your child best and there may be things they are ready for before the age suggestion or maybe they aren’t ready yet. But it gives you ideas of what kiddos can do in the kitchen.

Here is a link to a cookie recipe on my other blog. It is very simple and young children can help with almost every step. Cake Mix cookies Have your child help you choose the cake mix flavor, think about mix-ins and frostings to go with your cookie flavor. Then let them help. The can easily pour the mix into the bowl, pour the eggs and oil out of a measuring cup (I crack the eggs into my liquid measuring cup to make it easy for children to pour them in) and stir. Older children (5 and up) can also often help scooping the dough to form the balls. Younger children (and up) can help flatten the dough before baking.

While the cookies are baking, have your children write our recipe cards. Talk through the steps of making the cookies. Don’t worry if they don’t get all the steps. The key is to get things in the right order. You can’t put the frosting on before you bake the cookies. You can’t bake them before you mix them.

STEAM · story · topic

Penguins

This week we are going to learn about an Antarctic bird… penguins! Penguins live near the south pole, or in the Antarctic circle. While many penguins live on Antarctica, not all penguins live there, certain types of penguins live in New Zealand, Australia, South America and Africa. They are also found on the islands near Antarctica.

Let’s learn some more about penguins. Here are two stories for you Penguins by Gail Gibbons and Penguins by Jill Esbaum (A National Geographic Kids book). While you listen to these stories, think about the facts the authors share. What can you learn about penguins?

Create your own Can, Are, Have chart and write or draw facts about penguins to remember. Then uses these statements to write sentences, you already have the foundation: Penguins can waddles. Penguins are flightless birds. Penguins have pouches to keep their eggs warm. Look… you already wrote three informational facts about penguins! Now draw a picture to show what you wrote.

art · STEAM · story · teaching thoughts · writing

Let’s Build a Snowman!

Even before Frozen asked “Do you want to build a snowman?….”, building a snowman was a favorite snowy weather activity. (I found out that the first recording of building a snowman was in 1380.)

So, how do you build a snowman? Well… SciShow Kids will tell you in Do you want to build a snowman? So yes, the answer to how to build a snowman is SCIENCE! And I just have to share this favorite from my classes MooseTube’s Yes, I want to build a snowman.

And since we are sharing favorites from my classes. Here are two favorite snowman building stories: Sadie and the Snowman by Allen Morgan and All You Need for a Snowman by Alice Schertle.

Ok… now that we have heard and seen how to build a snowman… let’s write about it.

This is the beginning steps of informative writing… how do you build a snowman? first, then, next, finally for the steps. I chose to fold the paper into four columns this time, but you could do the same thing by folding the paper into four quadrants. The goal is to break it down into simple steps. If you do not have your child doing the writing, make sure to have them articulate the steps.

This is a narrative writing based on Sadie and the Snowman. Sadie used different snack items to make her snowman’s face each time. Have your child draw a picture of a snowman and decide what (s)he would use for the eyes, nose and mouth.

STEAM · topic

Hibernating Animals

I hope you enjoyed learning about migration. This week we will work on hibernation. Today we will learn about the concept of hibernation.

Snuggle Down Deep by Diane Ohanesian

Why Do Animals Hibernate by David Martin

Getting Ready for Hibernation from SciShow Kids

So why do animals hibernate? Here are some facts Hibernation fact from Scholastic and 10 Fascinating Facts about Hibernation from National Geographic Kids.

Most animals hibernate because of a lack of food. They are unable to store enough food to have enough food to eat through the winter. Most hibernating animals are warm blooded (bears, groundhogs, chipmunks and other), but there are also some cold blooded animals who hibernate (frogs, snails and snakes)

Hibernation allows an animals body to slow down, this is not sleep. The animals whole body slows down, including their lungs, heart and other essential organs. They use the energy they stored to use keep their organs functioning at a slower rate than normal. Some hibernating animals sleep through the winter, others wake from time to time to “use the bathroom” and eat some food they have stored.

Ask your child… Would you want to hibernate for the winter? Now draw and write about your answer. I really do like winter, it’s cold, but it is pretty!

STEAM · story · teaching thoughts · topic

What do animals do to get ready for the winter? (graphic organizers)

Over the next few weeks, we will explore what animals do to get ready for the winter. Today we will do an overview of this topic and then tomorrow we will begin our week long focus on migration.

Did you ever think about what animals need to do to get ready for the winter months? Ask your child what they think animals need to do. Let’s use a graphic organizer to get our thoughts in order! I have suggested 3 different types from easy to complicated (from simple information to a collection of knowledge)

  • Create a circle map. Draw two circles inside the other. On the inner circle write How animals get ready for winter.
    • Brainstorm ways you know animals get ready for winter and write it on the inside of the outer circle.
    • Ask… how do you know that? Write this information on the outside of the outer circle.
  • Create a KWL (know, want to know, learned) chart with your child.
    • K–Brainstorm with your child what they already know about animals getting ready for the winter. (there are no wrong answers here)
    • W–Brainstorm what they want to learn about this how animals get ready for the winter. (there are no wrong answers)
    • L-What did you learn about animals getting ready for the winter. Review new information and misconceptions on the K part.
  • Create a Schema Map (what I know, connections to what I learned and enlightenment of misconceptions). Divide a wall, window, chart paper whatever into 3 sections (schema, new knowledge and misconceptions)
    • On post it notes write down your schema (prior knowledge) one thought per post it
    • As you learn (listen to stories, participate in experiments and experiences, and other research), write down new learning on a different color post it. Connect the knowledge to schema when you expand on prior knowledge.
    • Move schema post it’s into misconceptions as you disprove the misconception (use another color sticky note to show the why)

Now listen to these stories and see what information you have learned, confirmed or now can disprove a misconception… add these facts to your charts!

art · topic · writing

Monster’s Underpants!

When we are nervous about life we are told to picture others in their underpants… maybe this helps children too if they think about monsters in underpants? Children love monsters… and they think underpants are too funny. So put monsters in their underpants and there is nothing that will bring more smiles, giggles and funny images!

Today listen to the story Monsters Love Underpants by Claire Freedman & Ben Cort.

Time to draw, paint… create a monster of your own!

My monster is wearing plaid underwear

Not sure how to get started or can’t think of a monster on your own? check out Art for Kit Hub’s paint a monster as inspiration… But, make sure to add underpants to your monster!

This is a great opportunity to encourage your child to write!! I guarantee your child has a story in his/her head about this underwear loving monster. You can provide words like monster, underpants, but encourage him/her to sound out the words the best they can. The purpose of children writing is not for them to spell every word correctly … it is for them to see him/herself as a writer. To put down their thoughts on paper. To see the connection between sounding out words to read and write. So encourage your child to write. Have them read what they wrote and praise the attempt, not criticize the imperfection.

art · story · topic

Jack O’Lantern Art

It’s Friday!! Did you have fun learning about pumpkins this week? You will have to let me know which activities you tried and which types you’d like to see more of in the weeks to come!

Today’s stories:

Pumpkin Jack by Will Hubbell– Tim carved the best pumpkin and named him Jack. He puts the pumpkin out into the garden as it begins to rot. Tim watches Jack change over time. Watch to see what becomes of Jack over the days, weeks and months.

Pumpkin Circle: The Story of a Garden by George Levenson — in this informational text you follow the life cycle from seed to seed of a pumpkin. Story written in flowing and bouncy verse to match beautiful and vivid photographs.

Here is a fun song to learn and sing together.

Little Jack O’Lantern (sung to the Battle Hymn of the Republic)

  • Little Jack O’Lantern had a candle lit inside
  • Little Jack O’Lantern had a candle lit inside
  • Little Jack O’Lantern had a candle lit inside
  • Till somebody blew it out. (then blow out the “candle”)

Now let’s make a Jack O’Lantern!

For this activity in school I would typically give the children the option of drawing and cutting out their own pumpkin shape or using a tracer. At home, you can either let them create their own or trace something to make the basic shape (plate, bowl, or other roundish item).

  1. Determine if you want your pumpkin to be tall and skinny or short and plump.
  2. Trace/draw the outline of your pumpkin onto an orange sheet of paper… or make it a green pumpkin, or a white pumpkin… you pick!
  3. Does your pumpkin have a stem or is it a “stumpkin”?
  4. now cut out the pumpkin… only cut the outside (trust me say this as some will cut ALL the lines they drew!)
  5. Now design the face of your pumpkin.- you can either cut pieces out of yellow, white or black paper and glue it onto the pumpkin or cut the pieces out of the orange paper. I show the children how to bend the paper to start cutting into where you want the openings.
  6. Use markers or crayons to add the pumpkin lines, color in the steam, and add more details
  7. If you cut out the eyes, you can either leave them or back the pumpkin in yellow or black paper to see the depth.
phonemic awareness · word work

Word Family Pumpkins

Here are two more great Pumpkin stories: Christopher Pumpkin by Sue Hendra & Paul Linnet and Stumpkin by Lucy Ruth Cummins. Both these stories talk about pumpkins that don’t quite fit in, but stand out all the same.

For Words Wednesday we will work on short “a” word families. Word families is a great way to work on sounding out words, for those ready for this skill, but it is also a great way to work on rhyming words. I will explain how you can alter these activities based on what skill your child is ready for at this time.

For the first activity, have your child draw 2-4 pumpkins on the page. Make sure they are big enough to draw inside. Label each pumpkin with an “a” word family (-ab, -ack, -ad, -ag, -am, -an, -ap, -at). Brainstorm with your child words that could fit in that word family. I typically ask the children if they can come up with one on their own, if they can… go from there. If they can’t then I will give an example or two and then see if they get the concept and can move on. For children who are working on this skill strictly as a phonemic awareness skill, they will just draw pictures of the words. For children who are working on reading and writing these CVC, CVCC words, they will illustrate and write the word. Continue to do to the same for each pumpkin on your page.

The second activity is real vs nonsense words. Children love playing with nonsense words. They love to create words that just sound funny. So… why not play with nonsense words with word families. Pick a word family, see list above. Divide a sheet of paper in half, and write real words on one side and nonsense words on the other side. Now work the same concepts. Put different beginning sounds on to the rime and see if the word is real or nonsense. Using magnetic letter or other letter tiles helps with this skill as children often struggle to go through the alphabet to find more words. You can do this totally orally as a phonemic awareness skill or write it on paper as a phonics activity.