Sunday, September 30, 2012

PeeWees: If You Give a Dog a Donut (week 2)

[More from Lisa on Week 2 of If You Give a Dog a Donut.]

 Arrival:  We started the day with sidewalk chalk – trying to use our imaginations like the dog does in the book. That was a very short-lived activity, just not much interest. So we moved on to the water fight. Everyone got a squirt gun or spray bottle and the laughing and running began (the dog has a water fight in the book).

From there we moved on to circle time but remained outside – the weather was just too good to miss. The big change was that I used apples to count and they LOVED that. They had to pick an apple and we lined them all up, one at a time. Then recounted from one each time a new apple was added – I will definitely use objects to count again in the future.
Snack: “pirate's booty” popcorn, apple slices, and apple juice (the dog dresses as a pirate in the book).
Art:  Kite making – very easy and fun. (the dog finds a kite)
Activity:  The bulk of the time was tee ball. I learned a lot from this activity. First, they LOVE being active. Second, LOTS of lessons can be learned by them from a “turn-taking” game – I will definitely try to do more turn-taking games in the future.  I was really impressed how well they all did – it’s hard to wait your turn. They ran and ran and ran – hitting the ball every fourth person. They really never got tired of this activity. (the dog plays baseball in the book too).
We returned to circle time, re-read the book, said the good-bye song and then it was off to the front for running with kites.

Friday, September 28, 2012

PeeWees Field Trip: Apple Picking

About once a month, we will take the PeeWees on a field trip.  Ideally, it will relate in some way to the current book.  The time was just right for If You Give a Dog a Donut because in the book, he goes apple picking.  So we did, too.

It was a long drive, so we had to have a snack once we got to the orchard.

The owners directed us to a section of October Fujis, which were perfect - not only because they were medium-sized and crisp, perfect for eating, but also because the trees were young and small - perfect for PeeWee pickers!

Most of our group were industrious pickers, making the most of our visit.

But Poppy, well she picked exactly one apple, then climbed in the shady stroller and munched on it until we left.  I was the only Hickman picking that day.

Here are the PeeWee apple pickers - and eaters - plus a few other friends we met at the farm that day.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

PeeWees: If You Give a Dog a Donut (week 1)

[I didn't teach this time - we take turns.  But we are trying to email out a recap of the day to the other moms when it is our turn, so we know what the kids did, and can talk about it with them over the week.  So most of this post's text comes from PeeWee mom Lisa.]

If You Give a Dog a Donut by Laura Numeroff

Concept:  The idea is that if you give a dog a donut, he’ll want some apple juice, and when he drinks it all up, he’ll want more. So he goes outside to pick apples which reminds him of baseball, then when he hits a home run he’ll find an old kite, then he’ll get dirty and need a bath, then he’ll use the bandana from drying him off to dress like a pirate…and you get the idea – everything leads to something new.

Kari was right, these little guys are loving this and are at the perfect age for what we’re doing. They’re super engaged and want to learn – very fun.

Arrival/Open play time: Playdough with shapes – there are lots of shapes in the book, (donut is round, kites are diamond, etc) – photo attached. Then circle time and just before snack with did our first song “Who Let the Dogs Out” so everyone could run around and dance.

Snack: a small donut, apple juice, and sliced apples.

Art:  Apple trees. I was really impressed with how well they followed the “one finger in the paint” directions to make their apples.

Activity:  We dressed up like pirates – with the same outfit as the dog in the book – and went on a treasure hunt (just like the dog in the book). The treasure hunt was a series of colored shapes they had to find around the yard. The last shape was a big yellow “X” and below it was a treasure box with plastic coins.

We came back inside, re-capped the book and the activities of the day then did one more “happy dance” (also from the book).

Great day. They are really fun kids.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

PeeWees: Not a Box (week 2)

This week we continued where we left off.  There was box playing.  Much of it.

When, during circle time, the kids started tipping out of their boxes for fun, and someone bonked his head on the wood floor, it was a good time to introduce and distract with Not a Stick.

Everyone got a piggie.  Or two.  We talked about pigs' ears and tail, learned the word "snout", and definitely practiced our snorting.  We did not give everyone a stick.  But we had a great time reading the book and finding out all the things Pig pretended his stick to be.  Then we went back and examined the two pages they were most interested in - the dragon, and the dark cave.

Snack - Boxes of raisins, boxes of pretzel sticks.  Loose discussion about other foods that look like sticks, and what we like to do with sticks or pretend them to be (mostly dragons since we really liked that page in the book.)

Art - Riding on the success of last week, more painting.  This time painting sticks I'd glued onto cardboard, with blue glittery paint.

Poppy said hers was a "scary movie." 
 Activity - One of our favorites from the Crazy Box - sorting toothpicks into Parmesan cheese shakers.  Each child  got an empty shaker and a bowl full of toothpicks.  One or two at a time, drop them in the holes.  You will not believe how it holds their focus, even the most active and distractible of the bunch.  And I gave them a lot of toothpicks.  They did it for over ten minutes.  Then when they were done, they emptied them out and did it again.  Hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills for sure.  Plus it's just fun.  If you have a two- or three-year-old, you've got to try this! 

But there is no question that BY FAR the most popular activity at PeeWees is running the loop in my house to music on the computer, instruments in hand.  I led them out in a little marching and galloping, but mostly I stepped aside and let them do their thing.  Ran them for about 10 minutes, then we gathered for closing circle time - reread our books, goodbye song, clean up the rug squares.  Then more running to music until the Moms came.  I think next time we may even do this more often, between transitions.  For 2-year-olds, it's the best.

Thursday, September 06, 2012

PeeWees: Not a Box (week 1)

Poppy is two this year.  Which means PeeWees is back.  It's a small cooperative toddler "school" I did with some other moms when Ginger was two.  And we're doing it again with our next set of munchkins.

There are four kids in our group.  We meet once a week for a 2-hour drop-off block.  Each mom takes a turn hosting/teaching the group for two consecutive weeks, then she has six weeks off.  We each follow the same basic schedule: arrival/free play, welcome/circle, snack, art, activity, circle/goodbye.  We share and pass around a bin of supplies: paints, markers, smocks, alphabet chart, parachute, CD, rug squares. Our teacher pool consists of an art historian, an avid athlete and outdoorswoman, a speech-language pathologist, and an early childhood music teacher.  Not bad, eh?

But here's what I'm really excited about.  This year we are using an approach called The Storybook Journey.  I first experienced it when I was doing my graduate practicum hours in  the Child Learning Center at the University of Colorado.  It's a literature-based approach to every aspect of curriculum: "The environment, materials, and experiences are intentionally designed to immerse the children in a playful exploration of the story's rich literacy potential, concepts, vocabulary, sequence, and plot, as well as the sheer delight of exploring a story through their play." (The Storybook Journey: Pathways to Learning through Story and Play by Sue McCord.)

We are obviously more low-key than a full-blown preschool program, but here's how we will do it.  Each teacher will choose a book she wants to use for each 2-week block.  She plans by brainstorming every single concept she can eek from it, from colors and art, to concrete objects, to life lessons and emotional or literary concepts, etc.  Then she chooses how she can apply any or all of those ideas into the daily schedule.  We'll always introduce and read the book during welcome/circle time, and again at closing circle time.  And in between, well, that's the journey!

I went first this year.  Here's what we did.

Not a Box by Antoinette Portis

Concepts: bunnies, cardboard, black & white, black/white & red, pretending a thing is something different, boxes, squares/rectangles, firemen, mountains/mountain climbing, robots, cars, thinking, asking and answering questions, "NOT", pirates, boats/ships, elephants, hot air balloons, rocket ships, wh-questions, things that rhyme with "box"

Related/support books: Too Princessy by Jean Reidy, Not a Stick by Antoinette Portis

Week 1
Arrival -  Big and little empty boxes to play with
Snack - Boxes of goldfish and boxes of juice; loose discussion about what else comes in boxes

Art - Paint your own "Not a Box" page (with glittery red paint!)

My sample

Artists at work

Finished prducts
 Activity - Building with blocks

They all worked together to build "a city"
In closing - Everyone got a bunny (or two or three) and sat in a box while we re-read the book for the third or fourth time.

Then after the goodbye song, we turned on music and hopped around the house like bunnies until the moms came. 

Poppy's conclusion of the day: "I like my school.  They are all boys.  But it is good."  When I asked her what was her favorite part, and named a few of her choices, she replied, "I like all of those.  They are all my favorite."
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