M is for Moon Pre-Writing Activity

It all begins with scribbles. Aside from the decorative swirls, a few letters, and perhaps even their own names, most preschoolers start school not knowing how to write. Fortunately, this does not have to be as challenging as many parents believe.  From tracing the ABCs (culminating in higher level thinking skills like forming, organizing, and expressing complete thoughts), to using a pen and pencil on lined paper, writing is a learning adventure, similar to all of the other ones your child has experienced!

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The key to learning how to write is to break it into small, manageable steps. To prepare your child for this most exciting endeavor, we participate in an array  of “pre-writing” activities that make writing fun.

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For this one in particular, we practiced writing the letter M, using shaving cream and glitter. With their paint brushes, your little one learned that all letter making starts from up to down and left to right. A paint brush is a nice introductory implement, because they are familiar, and easy to grasp. Lastly, this activity aided your budding writer in their continual mastery of the tripod grasp.

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Star Grid Game

Grid games teach one to one correspondence, counting, and numeral identification to the preschool learner. To play this grid game, students rolled a game die, identified the numeral, and counted out that amount of manipulatives.

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Each manipulative was placed over a star in the grid. We played until the whole grid was full! These grids are a really useful tool when teaching young children counting and math. Displaying a specific range of numbers is also easy for students to read and allow for a range of activities.

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Astronaut Obstacle Course

Gross motor activities are an essential component to any preschool curriculum. These activities build skills that aid the development of young children, and prepare them for elementary school. Because your little ones are active and often on-the-go, it is important that they learn how to control their bodies.

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Comfort with gross motor skills means that your child is aware of his personal space. By controlling his body, he can respect other people’s personal spaces as well. For this activity, we learned that being an astronaut creates intense physical demands on the body.

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Because of this, potential astronauts undergo rigorous training to prepare them for the challenges of space travel. Using yellow rope and our bodies, we participated in an astronaut obstacle course! This enabled your child to practice accessing both sides of the body simultaneously to get through the rope maze.

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Hurricane Dramatic Play

Dramatic play is a wonderful way for young children to act out roles and express themselves. Providing dress up costumes and pretend real life items encourages them to get into character, express their feelings, and gain mastery over new concepts.  20140827_111123

When your child continues to play a new role and theme over and over again, it is a sign that they are applying and processing the concepts that may be too complicated for them to integrate from a book. In this activity, we prepared our “house” for an upcoming hurricane.

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We packed emergency kits, boarded up our windows, and crouched as Miss Carrie used instruments to recreate the sounds of a hurricane outside.

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Hurricane Emergency Kits

Young children are constantly exploring their environments. They enlist the help of other children and adults to give them the language to describe what they see. Because hurricanes are not a part of their everyday experience, your child may have a difficult time truly understanding what they are, and what happens when they strike. By creating emergency kits,  your little one was able to integrate concepts from this portion of our theme.

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Initially, your little one learned  that for those living in areas frequented by hurricanes, it makes sense to be familiar with emergency procedures put in place by local and national governments. It was then explained to your children that emergency kits are necessary during any natural disaster.

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For this component, we had bins and bowls filled with band-aids, plastic food, bottled water, toys, and flashlights. Your little one was given a wooden crate to use as their “kit”, to place their necessary items inside. Before the “hurricane” commenced, your little one was urged to check on their friends, and as a group, go into the playhouse with their kits.20140827_110239

As you may know, dramatic play invites learning and promotes all different kinds of development. By providing a few interesting tools to our classroom, we had writing, communication, social development, fine motor development, cooperation, organization, and the exploration of new material to enjoy.

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Cyclone in a Bottle

Your little scientists had a blast with this hands-on experiment. They used jars, bottles, water, a funnel, and dish soap to create a cyclone in a jar! To initiate this activity, your little one learned that tornadoes form when cold and hot air combine and spin very quickly.

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They also learned that the swirling winds of a tornado are called a vortex. Following this brief introduction, they poured water into containers until they were about ¾ full.

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This component of the activity required teamwork. One of the students would hold the bottle, while the other one poured the liquid in. Then we added a few squirts of dish soap.

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It really did not take much and we took the funnel off for this part so we would not have to wait for it to drip through the funnel. Then we added two drops of food coloring.

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Next, we put the funnel back on to add in some glitter. This made the tornado easier to see. We talked about debris and how tornadoes have high winds that can break things and carry debris to other places.

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To view our tornadoes, the kids turned their bottles upside down and held them by the neck. Then they quickly spun the bottle in circular motion for a few seconds.

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When they stopped, they were able to see a mini tornado forming in the water!As a result of this activity, your budding meteorologist experimented with the physical properties of water: density, volume, polarity, and cause and effect.

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Students also participated in inquiry-based science, which enabled them to formulate explanations based on evidence, and then connect those explanations to the topic at hand.

 

 

 

 

Waterspout Tornadoes

Waterspout tornadoes fall into two categories: fair weather waterspouts and tornadic waterspouts. Tornadic waterspouts are tornadoes that form over water, or move from land to water. They have the same characteristics as a land tornado, are associated with severe thunderstorms, and are often accompanied by high winds and seas, large hail, and frequent dangerous lightning. Fair weather waterspouts usually form along the dark flat base of a line of developing cumulus clouds. This type of waterspout is generally not associated with thunderstorms.

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To help your little one grasp the idea of the waterspout tornado, we created our very own at the water table. Using pre-made funnels, constructed of paper and plastic bags, we produced whirlpools, watching with glee as our “tornadoes” sloshed the water around the water table, sucking up fish and other debris. This activity enabled your little one to explore the physical properties of water: density, volume, polarity, and cause and effect. Young children are naturally curious. To help foster their understanding of how the world works, it is essential that they learn about the various weather patterns that exist, and the interactions between them. This activity also cultivated their observation skills.

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Tornado Watch

The Storm Prediction Center is one of nine National Centers for Environmental Prediction. Their mission is to provide timely and accurate forecasts and watches for severe thunderstorms and tornadoes over the contiguous United States.  A tornado watch specifically includes the large hail and damaging wind threats, as well as the possibility of multiple tornadoes.

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Typical watches cover about 25,000 square miles. To convey this knowledge to our students, we had a circle time discussion regarding the function of the Storm Prediction Center, followed by a period of dramatic play. Using toy computers, phones, and a variety of other implements, we ventured into the world of meteorologists, call centers, and tornado chasers!

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Dramatic play poses as a host for a variety of skill sets. One is that of role playing. This is where your little one imitates behaviors and verbal expressions of someone they are pretending to be. This enables them to practice their social and interaction skills.

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As your child climbs the social skill ladder of development through play, they will go from pretending at the same time without any actual interaction, to pretending that involves several children playing different roles and relating to each other from the perspective of their assigned roles.

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