Hands-on learning is an integral component in early childhood education.
The manipulation and experimenting of materials provide a reference of learned concepts, and enables young children to construct meaningful experiences that aid their ability to commit new information to memory.
For this activity, your little one learned about shipbuilding in colonial America. To tie this in to our Thanksgiving theme, we discussed how the pilgrims sailed to the United States on a boat called the Mayflower.
They also learned that they were at sea for sixty-six days and landed at Plymouth Rock in the year 1620.
Using styrofoam blocks, blocks, small boxes, and “sails”, we created our own version of the Mayflower!
We then added small people as our pilgrims to supplement our play.
We have all come to recognize the cornucopia as a symbol of Thanksgiving or the fall harvest and many of us use one to decorate our
dining room tables as the centerpiece to our traditional feast. There is more, however, to this horn-shaped figure than meets the eye. Its name, entered into the English dictionary in 1508, originates from two Latin words; Cornu
meaning “horn” and Copia
meaning “plenty”. Hence the nickname Horn of Plenty, which in most cases today refers to an abundance of something.
In ancient times and in cases associated with Thanksgiving, it refers to a horn-shaped basket or hallowed out gourd filled with fruits and vegetables gathered from a good harvest and sometimes may contain flowers for added beauty.
To incorporate the cornucopia into our Thanksgiving curriculum, we used magnets. We did this by attaching magnetic food to the inside of magnetic cornucopias.
By placing the food inside a fixed space (a cone-shaped cornucopia), your children practiced representation (making mathematical ideas real by using objects – the magnets), spatial sense (practicing position, size, and space), and estimation (how many magnets will fit inside?).
Using play food, REAL cornucopias, plates, and utensils, we made our very own Thanksgiving Feast!
We wore Pilgrim hats, and used our words to talk about all things Thanksgiving!
This gave your little ones one a chance to act out and mimic the things we have been reading about all week!
Our dramatic play also encouraged cooperation with each other, perception of meaning, and increased language skills.
Using fruit, toothpicks, and their tummies, your little ones made a colorful array of turkeys!
Young children enjoy manipulating real-life materials in their learning environments, and found much satisfaction in creating turkeys out of kiwi, strawberries, pineapple and blueberries.
Children at this age learn more from three-dimensional items, objects they can see and understand firsthand, rather than simply drawing concepts on a piece of paper.
Indians used music as a means to celebrate, mourn, and communicate. Young children love to play music, and even more so, together!
Using drums, our hands, and our creativity, we performed a variety of rhythms, using a popular call and response game. Performing as a group fosters a child’s sense of community, increases self-esteem, and encourages listening skills.
The Ancient Pueblo People, or the Anasazi, are the cultural group often recognized as the ancestors to the modern day Pueblo people.
They were a populous and thriving civilization that resided in cliff dwellings, comprised of adobe bricks, and constructed atop mesas, or against the edges of natural caves as the bases of canyons.
To help solidify our understanding of this fascinating civilization, we created our very own Anasazi village!
As your little ones participated in this activity, they were given several opportunities to converse with their classmates, and discuss the best way to manipulate their three dimensional habitats.
Creating historical structures provides a medium for learning that younger learners enjoy.
These environments allow them to tell a story, stimulate inquiry and depict reality!
The Wampanoag tribe shared the first Thanksgiving feast with the Pilgrims. After arriving in Massachusetts, the Pilgrims were exhausted, following a two month voyage from England.
Being severely weakened, many pilgrims did not survive. They were unfamiliar with the harsh weather of the New World and relied on the Wampanoag Indians to teach them the land.
This tribe combined bark and other plant materials to make their homes, called longhouses. The inside of these longhouses had a dirt floor. The dirt permitted the use of a small fire to keep warm.
To convey the complex history of the Wampanoag Indians, we created our very own longhouses.
We first discussed the construction of the longhouse during circle time. Students then built two-dimensional longhouses out of craft sticks. Following, your little ones used flower foam, sticks, and wicker planters to create three-dimensional longhouse structures.
Young children are fascinated by the many dwelling places of the various American Indian tribes, and love to recreate the things they learn through dramatic play.
What they enjoy more, however, is creating the materials that they use for the imaginary worlds they create. For this activity, we decorated teepees. Following their creation, your little one participated in small world dramatic play. Doing so contributes to their development in several ways.
For one thing, it helps them work together toward a common goal. As they played with their teepees, they combined their worlds. Working together like this teaches teamwork, fuels creative thinking, and also exercises your little one’s ability to use make believe as a means to integrate the information they have been introduced to at school.