Crozet Play School

Kids at Play in Crozet


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Our “Mixed Up Animals”

 

535D59FB-EB66-4E21-ADE9-6ABC1C91D5CD.jpgAs we began our journey to learning more about animals, I went through my classroom library searching for any books that would work well to kick off our study!  Next thing I knew I had a huge pile of Eric Carle books.  His books are beautiful, easy to read, and classics that all children love.

We started reading “Brown Bear, Brown Bear” every day for a week before we went outside.  The children loved the repetitive nature of the story and singing it along with me.    We added “Baby Bear, Baby Bear, What do you see?” and “Polar Bear, Polar Bear What do you see?” to our favorite song book list.

During all of these read-alouds we worked on three key literacy terms:

Author

Illustrator

Title Page

When you are reading books with your children at night, take some time to talk to them about the author/illustrator of the story, where their names are located, and where they can find the title page inside the book.  These are great early literacy skills!

I just happened to pick up “What’s Your Favorite Animal?” by Eric Carle at the library.  The children were very intrigued by the picture on the cover.  The discussions kept going back to the funny animal on the front page and what were all of the different types of animal parts that made the cover picture.

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After some discussion about this silly animal the children wanted to make up their own animals too.  We studied the covers and illustrations of Eric Carle’s books and looked closely at the paints, lines, and textures he created in his pictures.  Then each child got a turn to paint two large pieces of thick watercolor paper with paint.  They put the paint on very thick and then used forks, cups, popsicle sticks and rollers to make different impressions on the papers.  I got the idea for this from Merri Cherry’s blog and Eric Carle.

Below is a picture of A making marks on her beautiful blue painting.  The right side shows an up close picture of orange paint that was scraped with a fork.

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M is below painting her large paper, and then getting ready to scrape it!

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T and H working together painting and scraping their papers.

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For some reason I always love the aftermath.  Here is our table after everyone was done painting.  There is something really satisfying about a messy workspace and children that got busy painting the morning away.

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Once the papers dried, Mrs. Brittany and I cut apart different animals parts to make “creation station” of sorts.  We cut out silly animal heads, some with long necks, bear heads, bird heads, etc.  We cut out wings of different shapes and sizes, and legs that were webbed, flat, curved, and had hooves.  The children came over the cut up pieces and picked what they liked best to create their own unique, one of a kind animal.  Once their animal was completed, we dictated a story about their mixed up animal.  IMG_3205.jpg

“My baby bird likes to fly.  He likes to eat worms.  The mama gives the baby the worms.  He knows how to fly.  He likes to fly in the trees.”

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T’s amazing animal

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C’s Flying Bear

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M’s Flying Cat Bat

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M’s Flying Cat

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D’s Flying Cat

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What an amazing project!  This will definitely be done again in the future!  I think I had as much fun seeing their mixed up animals, as they had creating them.

 


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Animal Adventures Part Two

We have had so much fun exploring animals of all different shapes and sizes!  This animal unit of study came about from the children playing with these large sized animals from Learning Resources, as shown below.  They are great toys to have around the house, because you can get them muddy, dirty, and even covered with paint and they wash right up!  They also provide the type of open ended play that can go on and on without a intended goal in mind.  They might made a great gift to fill up an Easter Basket?

Here is a link to some of the animals we love so much:

 

jungle animals

 

Jumbo Jungle Animals

house petsHouse Pets

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Ocean Animals

 

endangered

Endangered Animals

 

We made animal footprints with our large animals by dipping them in a plate of paint.  The girls thought this was really fun!  I was hoping that the “prints” of the animals would show up a bit better, but they enjoyed the process so much I decided that wasn’t important.

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I love how C decided to make his animals have a little dance party, and it made his paint smear all over the paper.  It is amazing what happens when we let go of our “ideas about what they should do” and just let the children explore freely.

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Fine Motor Activities:

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I set up this really fun cutting activity last week for the children at the table using crepe paper.  My good friend is a pediatric OT, and she shared this simple idea with me.  It was a fun and unique way to practice our scissor skills while standing, moving, and cutting something unique.

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After we had a few days to work on our cutting I gathered up a new fine motor activity that we hadn’t seen this year:

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A bath mat flipped upside down, marbles, and tongs.

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The children all worked diligently to fill up the bathmat.  After they had used every last marble in the room H asked if there was anything else they could use for the project.  I got them some gems to fill up any of the last holes on the mat.  The marbles required more fine motor skill to keep them from rolling away, but the finished product of the whole mat filled with objects was really neat to see.  I love when they will stick with a project for the entire duration!

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Animal Adventures:

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We had a whole group discussion about what we already know about animals (which was a WHOLE LOT) and what we wonder about animals.  The overall theme that kept being discussed is where animals live.  They knew the names of many of the habitats, but we unsure of some of the animals that lived in each biome.  I have decided to move along those lines with our animal study, and we got our hands dirty playing in a sandy safari habitat above.  I used my sand cloud dough, added my large safari animals, scoops, rocks, and fake large leaves.  The weather was so beautiful we were able to have the sensory tub outside with the doors open to the school.

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I found M and D building this awesome animal habitat with the blocks.  I loved how the used the hollow blocks turned sideways and each little animal had a resting place inside the block.

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After morning meeting we also sorted our mini animal figures into two categories: wild animals and tame animals.  We read Dr. Suess’ new book “What Pet Should I Get” and discussed which types of animals live in people’s homes.  They were especially interested in animals such as birds or turtles that can be found in the wild AND in people’s homes.  Such detailed discussions happening everyday!

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Of course these little animals just begged to be played with, which M got right to work making them come to life one morning last week:

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Collaborative Art:

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Lastly, the children came in last week to find this blank rainforest mural hanging up in the classroom.  I got the foundation of the mural started, and then each day we added a new animal to the mural to make it complete!

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Although many of the animals are bit more on the “crafty” side as far as projects I choose to do with the children, I wanted to make a finished product that would allow them to visualize the rainforest.  I tried to choose child made animals as much as possible!  The toucans were cut out using paper that they had painted for their Eric Carle project.  They added feathers and eyes to their birds.  The snakes were stamped using painted bubble wrap.  Above is a picture of J painting the bubble wrap green, and then we pressed the plate onto the bubble wrap.  Lastly, we painted anteaters using forks and dipping them in brown paint to make the fir.  The mural turned out beautifully, and after we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day this week, we will begin our mural of the savannah.

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Thank you for coming along on our animal adventures!